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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Rhubarb and Ginger Sticky Cake

Please forgive me – this recipe lives in my head in “old money”, i.e. Imperial rather than metric – sorry!

  • 6oz self-raising flour
  • 6oz butter
  • 3oz sugar
  • 3oz black treacle( the secret ingredient)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger (can be substituted with cinnamon)
  • 2 sticks of washed and roughly chopped rhubarb (can be substituted with seasonal fruit such as berries)

Combine all the ingredients except the rhubarb together, until smooth. You may need to warm the butter to soften before you add it.

Scrape all the mixture into a well greased and lined cake tin. The raw mixture should only come halfway up the side of the tin. Scatter the top of the uncooked cake with the chopped rhubarb and bake in a pre-heated oven at 190°c for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the cake is firm and springy to the touch. Serve warm with cream or ice cream, or just with a cup of tea!

Pork Escalopes

Bash out some pork steaks with a meat tenderiser or a stout rolling pin, or use some thin steaks cut from a joint.

Dip these in some seasoned flour, then beaten egg, then bread crumbs, and finally add straight into a  moderate to hot frying pan with a little pork fat, or half vegetable oil and half butter. The animal fat helps with the flavour and the crispiness of the bread crumbs. Cook until golden brown on both sides – make sure the pork is properly cooked through. Eat as whole escalopes, or slice up into strips and serve with a mixed salad and new potatoes.

Spicy Lamb Bites

For this recipe you will need diced lamb, either ready diced or diced from a joint  ( you can marinade lamb chops in the same way, but they will take a little more cooking).

Marinade the lamb in:

  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 clove crushed and chopped garlic
  • 1 chilli chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper

Marinade overnight, or at least for a few hours, then fry hard in a hot pan until the meat begins to colour on the edges, stirring just occasionally. If you are using chops grill or bake.

The diced meat is also great on kebabs for the BBQ, and you can also treat other meats (pork, beef, or chicken) the same way.

Spinach

It’s a shame to cook spinach at this time of year, but if you prefer it cooked why not gratin, lightly steam, smother in a rich cheesy sauce, and grill.

Alternatively, curry with crushed new potatoes and serve with yogurt and the spicy lamb.

Spinach is a great breakfast food in a pancake or omelette, with a little cheese if you like. I steam the spinach lightly, chop it up very small, and drain of any excess water. I then add the chopped spinach to the omelette or pancake mix and cook as normal.

Sprouting beans

Use in stir-fries or salads.

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The weather is really all over the place. We have had heavy rain storms (with the rain running down the road) followed by blistering sun; all on the same day. We’ve put up with quite a dry spell, the driest for over 100 years, but not being one to complain, it can stop raining now!

There is a lot of failed germination in the field due to the drought, and really the rain is too late for these crops.

Good news, the kitchen garden is growing very well and is providing us with lots of lovely fresh vegetables and some fantastic fresh garlic in the boxes this week.

Fresh Garlic

The best way to use your fresh garlic is straight away. If, however, you want to save it for use later I would recommend peeling and putting in a clean jar and topping up with olive oil. (The oil can be used after the garlic has finished, it has a lovely flavour.) You can peel and finely chop the garlic and store in a clean jar with white wine vinegar with a splash of olive oil on the top to keep out the air, just like the lazy garlic you can buy in the shops. It also saves a lot of time when cooking later.

Store both these methods in the fridge.

Chard, Beet Tops, or Spinach

These greens are one of my favourite fresh summer vegetables, and can be prepared in a number of ways:

  • They are lovely and tasty just washed and lightly steamed with a little butter, sea salt, and a pinch of nutmeg.
  • Wash and rip up and serve as a robust green salad with mustard dressing.
  • Wash and steam, stir into a rich cheese sauce and wrap in savoury pancakes.
  • Wash, steam, and chop to add to the egg mixture in a quiche
  • Or simply stir fry in a splash of oil and some lovely fresh chopped garlic

If you need to freeze your fresh garden greens, pack them tightly in a plastic bag and freeze. They are not the same once frozen, but cook well and can be used for all the cooked recipes.

Squash

What a beauty. These squash are so fantastic to look at, I feel compelled to cut off the top like a hat and gouge out the insides. Make a savoury stuffing for the squash bowl. Stuff the cavity and replace its hat, brush with olive oil. Place the squash on a greased baking tray and roast in a hot oven until tender and hot all the way through.

Stuffing

Mix together:

  • Diced squash minus the seeds;
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped onion;
  • 1 clove of chopped garlic;
  • ½ cup of cooked rice or bread crumbs;
  • A pinch of mixed herbs;
  • 1 chopped tomato;
  • Salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

You can mess about with the stuffing and add some cold shredded cooked meat or some curry spices, perhaps a teaspoon of pesto, or some grated cheese.

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The rain we have been so desperate for has come at last, but it would be the day I am helping Lee to pack the organic vegetable boxes for delivery tomorrow.

I have come in with wet feet after discovering, too late, a hole in my work boots. I am very attached to my steel toe cap boots and generally can make them last for up to 2 years per pair. It doesn’t seem long but the wear and work they get  means they do work very hard for their living.

It was a lovely damp misty morning  on the farm and all the vegetables I have been picking and pulling were glossy with rain. The earth smells so warm and rich after heavy rain. Whilst packing the boxes I have been planning what we will be eating this week .

I will make a small salad with the lettuce, some of the onion, some grated carrot, some thin  slivers of the turnip, and some thin slivers of the lovely beetroot.

With the beetroot tops I will make a gratin. Simply steam the tops like spinach and pour over a rich cheese sauce. Sprinkle with a little grated cheese and bake in the oven.

Stir fry the cabbage with a little garlic and serve with cold meat and boiled new potatoes.

Par boil the new potatoes and store in the fridge until needed. Once par boiled you can quickly roast or skewer and BBQ or sauté.

I always make a vegetable soup with what’s left of the veg box every week, and freeze it. Most weeks it comes out of the freezer again and we eat it as a late supper with crusty bread,  garlic croutons, or cheese on toast. Something hot, tasty, and easy to eat when you come in late and tired.

The chard is one of our favourite summer vegetables and I will often just steam it and add a quick grating of nutmeg and some salt and pepper to serve. Treat it in a similar way to spinach, so you can eat it raw in a salad if you prefer. Chard also make a lovely sag aloo (potato and spinach curry).

Some of the beetroot can go into a moist and lovely chocolate and beetroot cake . This cake freezes very well. There are lots of recipes for chocolate beetroot cake but a quick and easy one is a simple chocolate sponge recipe (100g of flour/cocoa) with a fresh peeled and grated beetroot added. Bake as a normal sponge cake. I always add a tablespoon of milk to a chocolate sponge recipe to slacken the mixture. There are, however, some lovely rich recipes which contain real organic chocolate instead of cocoa powder which are worth making for a special treat.

 One of my favourite ways with beetroot is to roast it in wedges. Par boil the beets with their skin on. Rub off the skin (wear rubber gloves because the juice stains), cut into wedges, and splash with a little oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast in a hot oven until tender and caramelized.

If I can rescue the broad beans before the kids eat them all raw I will pod them and give them a gentle boil. They are nice crushed up and eaten on thick buttered toast with lots of black pepper – no need to share them!

We hope you all enjoy your organic vegetable boxes, wherever you buy them from.

You can look and see what we are up to on the farm on www.gandsorganics.com – check out the link to the farm blog.

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This savoury scone recipe is a must in your culinary armoury. It is so flexible and can be a simple afternoon snack, breakfast, or indulgent treat.

Cheese Scones

  • 175g  self-raising flour
  • 25g fat (butter, margarine or hard fat – it depends what you have in stock)
  • A pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard powder
  • 1oog grated really good mature cheddar (organic of course)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 tablespoon of cold milk

Put all the dry ingredients, except the grated cheese, into your mixing bowl or mixer. Combine them with the fat, or rub in with light movements using the end of your fingers. You’ll achieve a bread crumb like mixture.

At this point add the grated cheese and stir to distribute. With the mixer running, very slowly add the beaten egg and the milk. You may not need all the milk, just enough so that the mixture comes together into a ball, but not sticky.

Tip the ball out onto a floured board. Gently and lightly shape into a circle approx 3cm thick. Cut the circle into four triangles. Place on a greased baking tray and brush them with a little beaten egg.

Bake in a hot oven (220°C or gas mark 7) for 15 minutes until golden brown. Keep an eye on them after 10 minutes as you may need to turn the oven down slightly.

Remove the scones from the oven and allow too cool on a wire rack. Or just eat with as much butter as you can get on them!

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Chocolate orange cake

At last, a busy day in the coffee shop due, I think, to the lovely change in the weather. Actual heat in the sun, and people sitting out in the shop garden. Lots of happy smiley faces! The day goes so much more quickly and I managed lots of baking too.

An excellent offering for tea at home, which always goes down well in the shop, is a chocolate orange marble cake. Really easy to make, but you simply have to use good organic oranges. The zest is fantastic with lots of orangey oil and colour in the skin.

Chocolate sponge recipe

  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 100g sugar
  • 100gs butter
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoon of milk
  • ½ tsp of vanilla essence

Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well together.

Orange sponge recipe

  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 100g butter softened
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 organic oranges, zest and juice

Mix ingredients all together.

Chocolate butter icing

  • Chocolate
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Blend together and beat until smooth.

Orange butter icing

  • 60g butter, softened
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • zest from 1 orange

Again, blend together and beat until smooth. You can always add more icing sugar if too soft, or more liquid if too stiff.

Method

Make two sponge mixes, one orange and one quite dark chocolate.

In a well greased cake tin lined with greaseproof dollop alternate heaps of chocolate then orange mixture. Take a large metal spoon and swirl, with a cutting action, the sponge. Don’t over do it.

Bake in a moderate oven  gas mark 4 for 30 to 35 minutes. Do not over cook.

Once cool cut the sponge in half to give you two discs. Sandwich these back together with orange butter icing, not too much save the excesses for the top!

Decorate the top with 2 sorts of icing. chocolate butter cream and orange. again dollop on the icing one dollop chocolate then one orange and spread over cake in peaks not mixing them together too much. Sprinkle over some grated dark chocolate to finish.

Ice the cake, using swirly peaks of chocolate and orange icing.

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Trout outside

It’s not that often that you have the good fortune to be offered a lovely freshly caught trout and gutted to boot. Well that’s just the position I was in the other night. A smashing 4lb beauty.

But what to do with it. There are lots of options and the simple ones are generally the best.

It is still April and the evenings are beginning to stretch out, and lately it has been just warm enough to eat outside on the odd occasion. So I am opting for the spiced up version and a little table just outside the door. Lots of candle add a lovely atmosphere.

Simply fillet the trout with a very sharp knife – this gives you two large meaty portions. A fish this size could feed 4 to 6 for dinner.

With the back of a knife rub off the scales on the skin side of the fish and discard. Turn the fish over and rub the flesh with a good pinch of sea salt, a teaspoon of chopped fresh chillies, a pinch of ground ginger, and a pinch of ground garam masala.

Heat a dash of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the fish skin side down for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn it over and cook the flesh side for 2 to 3 minutes. Don’t overcook.

We enjoyed ours with a huge pile of steamed white sprouting broccoli and a large dollop of mayonnaise (there are some great organic ones available if you don’t have time to make your own, you can customise them with mustard, chillies or fresh garlic).

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This easter holiday I have not lived by my own rules. Result, a very  tired and grumpy me.

I really like to be very well prepared, and for one major reason, it is so much easier. I like to have meals made ready in my beloved freezer, the house reasonably tidy (and for those who know me that is a semi-organised chaos, two children , a beautiful partner, and three dogs). My bitch, Treacle, is due to have puppies in the middle of this month, so some lovely puppy pics will come in due course. So like I say, tidy house is almost an impossibility, but cupboards tidied out, the washing up to date, and the freezer groaning with prepared-ahead meals is how I like to start a holiday week or fortnight.

Well I have completely failed! I have chased my tail all week, throwing meals onto the table at the last-minute. Washing piling up and the dogs looking at me rushing about and muttering to myself. There is only one way to deal with the situation – get a grip on the domestic land-slide.  In my defence, George has been unwell with a sick bug, which is very unlike him, but we have had some sleepless nights.

So “clean out the kitchen cupboards” is my battle cry. I set about the task late into the night (late for me is past 9pm). With that job completed, I felt a strange sense of order descend (some therapist would make much of this, but for me it is strangely calming).

The next day, before work, I pegged out three loads of washing on the line (What would I do if I was in my grandmothers situation and had to wash by hand? There would only be one solution, a complete breakdown and a jacket that fastened at the back).

The house now seems to breathe a sigh of relief that I am back at the helm.  A little vinegar in the fabric conditioner slot in the washing machine (no fabric conditioner needed) freshens up the washing, softening the fabric and banishing any odours. Vinegar is good for removing stains, just pour on the stain and pop in the washing machine,. Don’t let the vinegar dry out on the garment, and wash as normal. After George’s bug the vinegar has been working its magic all over the house.

I quickly throw a thick spicy soup together for supper made with lots of root vegetables and stir-fried garlic-y greens piled in on the top of each bowl. As we all sit down at the table and I watch them all tuck in, everything is at peace in my world. Oh, I nearly forgot pudding, a quick jam sponge in the microwave.

Jam Pudding

  • Jam in the bottom of the microwaveable dish. The dish need to be quite large to accommodate the sponge rising.
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g sugar
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients, except the jam, and put the mixture on top of the jam in the microwaveable dish. Cook on high for 4 minutes, and then test the sponge to see if it is cooked. You may need to put it back in for another minute. Serve with ice cream, custard, or cream.

Happy Easter.

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