Sunday, 29 September 2013

Runner Bean Risotto

Like most households, we have a division of labour.  Andy is brilliant with technical stuff, good with tools, big and strong.  He does the traditional 'guy' stuff.  I love cooking, gardening, and am a bit of a neat freak.  I do the traditional  'girl' stuff. Sometimes the two overlap with varying consequences. Take this blog, for example.  This my experiment in technology.  I set it up ALL by myself and take all of the photographs ......

That is to say, I take the photographs when I remember to charge my camera battery, which I forgot to do so this is the only photo for this recipe.  I'll make this brief.  My neighbour, John, gave me some lovely runner beans and I made them into a risotto using THIS RECIPE .    Of course I didn't follow the recipe word for word.  I substituted cream cheese for the mascarpone and left out the broad beans. I used dried mixed herbs instead of fresh because that's what I had to hand.  It was VERY good.   If you have a glut of runner beans, this could be the recipe for you.  

Excuse me, please.... I am off to charge my battery!  

PS- Gender assignment of chores was meant in a light hearted way.  Have no doubt,  I am a VERY liberated woman.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Low Fat Applesauce and Oat Muffins

This next recipe will probably shock my regular readers, it's Low Fat Applesauce and Oat Muffins.  I know, low fat!  Sometimes even I feel like I need a healthier option.  

There is a secret to baking delicious, moist, low fat goodies.   It's applesauce!
When you add applesauce to cakes and muffins, you can decrease the butter and oil dramatically.  

You can use store bought applesauce but I've got so many apples that I decided to make my own.  You can find my easy applesauce recipe by clicking HERE.  

The remaining ingredients are basic store cupboard's the recipe:

1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 1/4 cups regular oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup soft brown sugar 
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil - I use canola oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1/2 raisins - optional

Heat the oven to 400F/200C.   Place 12 paper muffin cases into your tins and set to one side. 

In a large mixing bowl, place the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Stir the dry ingredient together until well combined. 

In another bowl, place all the remaining 'wet' ingredients and beat them together.   Pour the wet mixture into the large mixing bowl and stir JUST until all of the dry ingredients are moistened.  DO NOT OVER MIX or you will have tough muffins. 

Spoon the batter into the paper cases and bake for 16 - 20 minutes.  Let the muffins cool for a few minutes before removing them from the tin. Be sure to store any left over muffins in an airtight container.  There's only one more thing to do, enjoy a guilt free treat!  

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Colours of Autumn

Every day through the Spring and Summer I've managed to have a small bouquet of home grown flowers. 

Now Autumn has arrived, the bouquets are getting smaller and smaller.

The colour palette is getting smaller, too.  Most of the flowers are yellow or orange.

The colours may be limited but they are brighter than ever!

These really are the colours of Autumn.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Rose Petals for Breakfast

You won't believe this... I didn't believe it, but I HEARD this before I saw it!

It was very early this morning, long before anyone else was awake. I was making my usual dawn survey of my garden when I heard a soft munching, crunching sound.  

It was very near but there wasn't anyone else around.   Or so I thought, looking down I saw this!

Now, I don't usually like slugs.  The truth is they give me the creeps, but this little fellow was having such a lovely breakfast of fallen rose petals, I had to stop and watch him.  

I would have loved to see him finish his meal but he was a VERY slow eater and I have lots to do today.  I must say, I rather envy his leisurely brunch of delicate rose petals.  

Monday, 16 September 2013

Sydney, the Sourdough Starter, is TOAST

After days in a jar, making a failed escape attempt, and getting far too big for his own good,  Sydney the sourdough starter has been turned into this:

I don't think he looks too bad for my first attempt at baking bread from a home made sourdough starter.   He may be a little wonky in shape but he is delicious.

I am sure as he matures and ages, Sydney will develop more complex flavours.  I am very pleased with the results and it all started with a cup of flour and some warm water.  If you want to make  your own sourdough starter click HERE for the instructions.   There will be more about baking with Sydney in future posts.  Right now I just want to make a piece of toast!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Sydney the Sourdough Starter

Several days ago, on a whim, I decided to try to make my own SOURDOUGH STARTER .   I was doubtful about my chances for success but after about 48 hours things began to happen.   The first thing I noticed was an 'interesting' smell, something between bad apples and vinegar.  It wasn't awful but not very fragrant either.

Undaunted I fed Sydney, yes the sourdough starter has a name, turned off the kitchen lights and went to bed.  The next morning Sydney smelled of apple cider (which I like very much)  and he was making little bubbles!  My confidence grew and so did Sydney.

Everyday for a week I fed Sydney.  He grew bigger and stronger and smelled better.  One night, while everyone was asleep, Sydney decided his jar was a little claustrophobic.  Feeling brave and strong, he squeezed out of the small space around the lid of his jar and escaped to the kitchen counter.  The next morning I found a sticky puddle of Sydney and responded to his peripatetic behaviour by dividing him in half!  Now we have two starters, Sydney and Sheldon!

I've decided if this sourdough starter is strong enough to make a bid for freedom, it's strong enough to make a dough rise.  A loaf of Sheldon is in a warm bowl rising right now.  Stay tuned for the continuing sourdough saga and see what happens next!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Last of the Summer Roses

There is no denying it, Autumn is just about here.   Most of my garden has already given up on the Summer and has stopped blooming but the roses aren't going without one last glorious flush of flowers.   

So for Wordless Wednesday here are the last of the summer roses. 

They all look a bit tired and tattered now but not less beautiful for it.  The roses put on a brilliant show this year now it's time for them to have a well earned rest.   

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Peach Crumble

This time last year I was baking Windfall Crumble . Today the apples are still firmly attached to the trees and show no sign of shaking loose so I've baked a Peach Crumble.  

You can use almost any fruit you like to make crumble; apples, plums, peaches. blackberries.   One of the best crumbles I've ever eaten was a combination of apples and blackberries served with hot home made custard! 

But I only have peaches, so that's what I've used. Begin by heating the oven to 350F/180C.  Peel and slice about four cups of peaches, five or six medium sized peaches should be enough.  Place the sliced peaches into a mixing bowl and stir in the following:

3  packed Tablespoons of soft brown sugar
2 Tablespoons plain flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Butter a baking dish and pour the peach mixture into it.  Shake the baking dish to evenly distribute the peaches.  Set to one side and make the crumble topping.  

 For the crumble topping you will need:

50 grams plain flour
50 grams sugar
50 grams cold butter
50 grams oats

Place the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl.  Stir to combine, then using your fingertips, rub in the butter.  When this mixture looks like bread crumbs stir in the oats.  Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top of the peach slices and bake for 35 - 45  minutes.  The topping should be lightly browned and the peach juices should be bubbling hot. 

I like to eat my Peach Crumble warm with a splash of cream or a tiny bit of vanilla ice cream.  It's good cold with a little custard.... or just plain, all on it's own!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Sourdough Bread Starter

You never know when inspiration might strike.  I was filling the bread flour canister and about to but the empty flour bag into the recycling bin when something caught my eye.

First of all, the bag said 'Baking Mad' on it.  That's a pretty accurate description of me...but there was more.

On the back of the bag was this very easy recipe for making Sourdough Starter.  

I've never tried to make my own Sourdough starter.  All of the recipes seemed so complicated...put in this ....take out that...throw some away.  THROW SOME AWAY?!   I abhor food waste so this simple recipe is going to be my first step into the sourdough bread baking world.

Why don't you give it a try, too.   We can compare notes.  For heaven's sake, don't let me forget to feed the starter!  

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Peaches and Cream Scones

I woke up thinking of peaches!  This behaviour might seem odd to most people but I often wake up thinking of food.  I wake up early and hungry so it's not unusual for me to bake something for breakfast.  

This morning I made Peaches and Cream Scones.  In Britain scones are an afternoon tea treat but where I come from scones are biscuits and biscuits are often eaten at breakfast.  I can have a warm scone for breakfast and another for my afternoon tea.... if there are any left.

I made these peachy scones by adding fresh, ripe peaches to PAT'S DECADENT and DELICIOUS SCONE RECIPE.  Here's what I did:

Peel and remove the stones from two ripe peaches.  Dice them finely and place the diced peaches into a small bowl with a few drops of lemon juice and two teaspoons of sugar. Place the bowl to one side to macerate while you prepare the scone dough. 

Pat's Scone Ingredients

2 cups plain flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cold butter - cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 - 1 cup heavy cream - including the juice drained off the peaches

Place the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl.  Stir to combine, then add the butter.   Use a pastry tool or rub the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like bread crumbs.  Add the diced peaches and stir just enough to distribute them evenly.

Drain the peach juice into a measuring cup, add the vanilla extract and enough cream to measure 3/4 cup of liquid.  Pour the cream into the dry ingredients and gently toss together with a knife.   You may add a little more cream if the dough feels too dry but remember the peaches will add moisture to the dough.

Dust the work surface with a little flour, turn out the dough and very gently bring it all together into a large ball.  Divide the dough into two pieces. Gently press each piece into a thick round, about 1 inch thick.  Cut the round into quarters and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream and put them in the fridge for about 15 minutes to rest.   Heat the oven to 425F/220C.  Bake the scones for about 15-20 minutes.  Remember ovens vary so check the scones early to make sure they don't burn.  

Cool the baked scones on a wire rack but be sure to eat one warm with a bit of creamy butter.  For afternoon tea you can switch to clotted cream.... IF you have any left for afternoon tea.  

Monday, 2 September 2013

Calendula Salve

Isn't it strange how ancient herbal medicine seems so modern? All of the most expensive lotions and potions on the market today are made from organic plant extracts filled with vitamins, anti-oxidants, and flavoniods... just like this old fashioned recipe for Calendula Salve.

I heard about this recipe from some professional gardening friends.  They swear by the stuff for healing and soothing their hard working hands.  Since I garden and work in clay, my hands need all the help they can get.

This recipe contains only three simple ingredients, one of which are Calendula petals.  I have a garden full of them so the time to make Calendula Salve is now!  

It's a bit unsettling ripping the petals from the fresh flowers but after a while I began to feel like an alchemist or a medieval herbalist.  It's very satisfying filling the jars with the amber liquid and watching it solidify into a rich balm. 

To get the complete recipe and learn more about the medicinal benefits of Calendula Salve CLICK ON THIS LINK.  It will take you to the Higgledy Garden blog where you can order seeds, learn about growing flowers and lots of other interesting things.... like Carl Legge's Calendula Salve recipe!