Tag Archives: recipe

Old Fashioned Treacle Tart

Prior to the 17th century, treacle was used as a medicine; it was considered very good for the blood and was therefore used in antidotes to poisons. It starts cropping up in recipes for gingerbread in the mid-18th century. Jane Grigson mentions a gingerbread recipe from 1420 in her book English Food where spices and breadcrumbs were mixed together with plenty of honey to make a gingerbread that did not have any pastry crust. And although the name implies the tart is made with treacle, from when golden syrup was more readily available, treacle was rarely used.

I always have breadcrumbs in the freezer, the upside of making so much bread. Fresh soft white breadcrumbs are best, but I used a mixture in this case.

Treacle Tart

Ingredients

150g flour
90g butter, cold and cut into cubes

salt

1-2 tablespoons of cold water
1 egg (Wash)

2 tablespoons of cream
325g golden syrup
25g butter
1/4 teaspoon all spice
150g fresh breadcrumbs

Method

First make the pastry. Rub the butter into the flour, until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the salt. Add in the water 1 tablespoon at a time until you see the mixture coming together. Once the pastry has formed into a ball, knead briefly and wrap in cling film and place in the fridge.

Treacle Tart

Leave the pastry chill for about 30 minutes then roll it out gently to fit an 8″ fluted tart tin. I don’t need to grease the tin as mine is well weathered but if you are using a new or nearly new tin then grease it first. Return the lined tart tin to the fridge to rest while you make the filling. Roll out the leftover pastry into strips to make the lattice on the top of the tart.  Lie these on some baking parchment and refrigerate.

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC, and put a thin baking sheet on the rack. I wouldn’t normally advocate using an extra layer under pastry but in this case IF your filling leaks, you won’t thank me for the sticky mess on the bottom of your oven!

Treacle Tart

Next heat the butter in a saucepan with the golden syrup until the butter is melted. Stir in the spice, the breadcrumbs and the cream. Remove the tart shell, and the pastry lattice from the fridge and gently spoon the breadcrumb mixture into the tart.  Brush the edges of the tart gently with the egg wash and carefully place the lattice on top, pressing into the base to seal.

Treacle Tart

The filling looks a little mean  the size of tart tin, but the filling will expand and also with such a sweet centre, less is most definitely more in this case. Egg wash the whole lattice.

Place the tart on the baking sheet in the oven and cook for approximately 25 minutes. Leave the tart cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then take the tart tin off carefully.  Place on a cake plate to cool.

Serve warm of cold with some softly whipped cream.  Enjoy the decadence and and nostalgia. Divine.

 

Banana Brownies

When you have too many bananas there’s only so much you can do.  Banana bread is the usual staple bake. It’s simple and cost effective.  And quick.  But this time I wanted to add more than the usual handful of chocolate drops into the mixture.  So I came up with this, equally easy,  but slightly more decadent recipe.

Bananas are the staple fruit of most households, and athletes.  when we go any major orienteering event there must be hundreds upon hundreds of bananas consumed. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium and vitamin B6, fibre and carbohydrate, and supply some vitamin C. Since they have a lower water content than most fruit, bananas typically have more calories as well as a higher sugar content compared to other non-tropical fruits. This is good for those, like me, who will, no doubt be out on a mountain for quite some time!

Bananas are soothing to the digestion due to their high content of pectin – as soluble fibre that not only lowers cholesterol but normalises bowel function. The high fibre content of bananas helps you to feel full, another bonus if you will not see food again for some time.  No point being distracted from your running by a grumbling tummy!

The resistant starch in bananas also has a prebiotic effect, helping to keep gut bacteria happy by increasing the production of short chain fatty acids for digestive health. And you all by now know my obsession with healthy gut bacteria!

Banana Brownies

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My obsession with Pistachios continues….

I don’t really like nuts. In actual fact if I order a dessert and arrives with nuts (ALWAYS happens if you order a brownie), more often than not there’s an undeclared nut in it. Saying that, I have always eaten pistachios.  My poor Dad use to crunch his way down the drive if I had dropped any shells. This recipe ticks alot of boxes for me.

Chocolate √

Pistachios √

Smoked Salt √

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Pistachios, I fear, like pinenuts are going to be a thing of the past at some stage due to climate change. So maybe this recipe will have to change for the next generation. Makes me just a little sad. More than a little sad if the truth be told.

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Filled Brown Butter Cookies

Brown butter seems like such a cheffy thing.  It’s not.  Promise. And really gives a depth of flavour.  Mind you, you can’t leave it alone while browning, and it’s a little like caramel.  Turn your back on it for one second and it’s gone too far.

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My Chewy Chocolate Cookie Recipe

Even though everyone is probably sweeted out in January. A nice dark chocolate, Soft and Chewy, goes down very well with a nice coffee.

These are simple to make, and keep either cooked and frozen, or un-cooked and frozen.  Everybody needs a good cookie recipe in their repertoire.

The secret is the best quality chocolate and some leftover Christmas chocolate that noone really thinks they could/should eat.

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Bananas about Banana Bread

As usual we had too many bananas.  Reason? The eldest, the main banana consumer in the family, had gone orienteering in Sweden.  Now, I know the lowly banana has split many camps in regard to ethical/ organic / food miles.  but in reality, I think bananas are probably here to stay. So however uncomfortable I am about them, they are the essence of food used by orienteerers. Easily digestible and prepared food.  But now, with the *monkey* absent, a few bananas were going brown in the fruit basket. I took down a reasonable “posh” cookbook off my recipesto-try shelf.

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Strawberry Heaven in a tart

Who doesn’t associate strawberries with Summer? I know you can now get strawberries all year round, but honestly, there is NOTHING better than in season, local strawberries.  And as my love of pastry is always lurking somewhere beneath the surface, strawberries+ pastry= strawberry heaven.

As much as I always love my favourite recipes and make them often, it’s nice to try new things.  I picked up “The Boy Who Bakes”- Edd Kimber while in the UK on a trip.  Although I follow him on #Instagram, I had never seen him on TV on the GBBO, or tried one of his recipes.  Until now.

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Rocket Gnudi- Yep I’d never heard of them either

My Mum and Dad are great at spying recipes for me to try, and when they proudly presented me with this particular Gnudi one, there was a definite hint of -I’ve-stumped-you-now in my father’s eye.  But never one to resist a challenge, I went about making some. This recipe is  from the book – Too Good To Waste by Victoria Glass.

Technically dumplings, these billowy puffs of cheese are from Tuscany originally, where ricotta replaced potato in the more common Gnocchi. Gnudi is an English-adopted Tuscan word for the Italian term “nudi” (naked), the idea being that these balls of ricotta (and sometimes spinach) are “nude ravioli”, consisting of just the tasty filling without the pasta shell. Fine with me. I’m not adverse to a bowl of nude pasta if push comes to shove.

Rocket Gnudi

Ingredients:

150g Rocket/ or you could probably use baby spinach

250g ricotta

50g freshly grated Parmesan

1 egg, beaten

1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

250g semolina

Sage butter or tomato passata sauce to serve.

Method:

Place the rocket in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon of boiling water and heat until the leaves are just wilted. Drain well, cool and chop finely.  Mix this chopped rocket together with the ricotta, parmesan, egg, nutmeg, salt and some black pepper in a bowl.

Gnudi

Pour the semolina into a separate shallow bowl.

Gnudi

Wet your hands (to prevent sticking) and roll a walnut sized piece of ricotta mixture into balls in between your palms. Then coat this in semolina, leaving it to one side in the semolina dish when you move onto the next ball.

Continue like this until all the balls are used up.  Then roll all the balls again through the semolina to make sure that they are well coated.

Gnudi

At this stage they need to go uncovered into the fridge for at least 48 hours. Here the gnudi will develop a skin to make them easier to cook.  They can be frozen in a container at this stage.

When you are ready to cook the gnudi, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.  Adding a few gnudi at a time to this water, you will know when they are cooked as they will start to float.  Using a slotted spoon remove the cooked gnudi to a frying pan with sizzling melted butter to finish them off.

Rocket Gnudi

Rocket Gnudi

I love them just like this, with extra parmesan, but you could throw them into a bowl of bubbling passata if you were feeling indulgent.  Whatever way you chose they are divine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portugese Egg Custard Tarts- Easy and Tasty

These little beauties, also known as Pastel de nata are so moreish I’m forever grateful I don’t live near Portugal, I’d be the size of a house!  The history of them is very interesting, as they were originally made in FRANCE!

Pastéis de nata (the Portugese name means pastry cream as far as I can see, already winning me over) were thought to be created during the 18th century by Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery, Santa Maria de Belém, in Lisbon. These monks were originally based in France where these pastries were found in local bakeries. At the time, convents and monasteries used large quantities of egg-whites for starching clothes, such as nuns’ habits. It was therefore quite common for monasteries and convents to use the leftover egg yolks to make cakes and pastries, resulting in the proliferation of sweet pastry recipes throughout the country.

Portugese Custard Tart

Pasteis de Belem

Following the extinction of the religious orders in the aftermath of the Liberal Revolution of 1820, the monks started selling these dainty little pastries at a nearby sugar refinery to bring in some revenue. In 1834 the monastery was finally closed and the recipe was sold to the sugar refinery, whose owners in 1837 opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém. The descendants own the business to this day, a Portugese stalwart.  In this recipe I use bought puff pastry, but plan on making them again in a few weeks with homemade puff pastry.  My aim was to get the filling right.  And I think I did.  They were EXTREMELY popular.

Portugese Egg Custard Tarts

Ingredients:

1 egg
3 egg yolks
120g caster sugar
30g cornflour
400ml full fat milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (use good stuff please!)
1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry, I like the lidl one.

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Method:

Lightly grease a 12 hole muffin tin and pre-heat oven to 180oC

Put the egg, yolks,  caster sugar & cornflour in a saucepan and mix well together then gradually add the milk until mixture is well mixed and smooth.

Custard

Place pan on medium heat and stir constantly until mixture thickens and comes to the boil. Remove pan from heat and stir in your vanilla extract.

Put this custard aside to cool.  I dust with icing sugar then cover with cling film, to prevent skin forming.

Roll the pastry on your lightly floured counter, and using a cutter,  cut this into 12 even sized rounds. Press the pastry discs into the muffin tin. I like if they are a bit ruffled.
Tarts

Spoon in your now cooled custard, sprinkle over the cinnamon and bake for 20 minutes until nicely golden on top.

Tarts
Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then move to a cooling rack to finish cooling although they can be eaten warm.  You frankly won’t be able to stop the hoardes.

Divine.

My One-pot chicken pilaf Recipe

I love love LOVE cooking in the kitchen. But I think if I won the lotto my first splurge would be on a kitchen porter.  Sometimes the washing up just gets to me.  But no need for the help when making this beautiful and fresh pilaf, it’s made in one pot. The term pilaf is borrowed directly from the Turkish pilav. I actaully associate a rice pilaf with Indian Cooking, for my it’s very like Biryani.

If you could research the history of rice pilaf, you could tell the history of the world to at least as far back as Alexander the Great. It’s a dish that is ubiquitous across most of the world’s cuisines. This is probably because it is such a great dish for large gatherings. To make a large pot of rice pilaf is not much more difficult than to make a small pot.  And the washing up is also the same!

Every region adds their own distinct flavours to the dish. In India, rice pilaf is called pulao and it has many variations from region to region. It is most popular in the northern areas, such as Kashmir and Gujarat.  Alexander the Great is said to have first eaten pilaf in the Bactria region of Iran, which is now a part of Afghanistan. Bactria is where his wife, Roxana, was most likely born. I can imagine pots of fragrant rice pilaf being served at gatherings for ancient dignitaries, perhaps even his wedding (I’m just guessing here).

One-pot chicken pilaf

Chicken pilaf

Good range of colour in the ingredients

SERVES 4
Ingredients
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 teaspoons of curry paste (choose your favourite, or make your own)
a third of a mug basmati rice
two-thirds of a mug chicken stock (hot)
1 mug frozen peas
1 mug of leaf spinach, washed.
Method
Heat the oil in a frying pan, then fry the onion for 5-6 mins until softened.
Chicken

Chicken pilaf

Still looks a little beige at this stage

Add the chicken pieces, fry for a further couple of minutes just to colour the outside, then stir in curry paste and rice. Cook this for another minute.

Pour in the hot chicken stock. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, then cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally . Scatter over the spinach, cover, then cook for 10 mins more until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender. Now add the peas, (in this case I added them too soon so they look like they’ve been sitting in a carvery for a month, but still taste good). Give everything a good stir, season to taste, then tuck in.
Chicken
Divine.