Monday, June 29, 2009

STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM


The strawberry plants have produced a bumper crop this year. I picked 2kg in one day and today picked another basket full, that's besides all the strawberries picked on previous days. I have my very own PYO at the bottom of the garden this year!


The squirrel is quite partial to strawberries and so they have to be covered up with netting which makes picking them quite difficult.

As well as making strawberry jam, I have now made a couple of tubs of ice cream. One ice cream was custard based and the other is a very simple ice cream made with double cream and a few other ingredients. It's best if you have an ice cream making machine because it makes life much simpler.

Next week it will be more jam making, rhubarb and strawberry crumble, Eaton mess, more ice cream, strawberries dipped in chocolate, strawberry cupcakes, strawberries on their own and anything else I can think of to use them up!

FRESHLY CHURNED ICE CREAM


The book from which the recipe is taken has a useful section at the beginning regarding ingredients, finer points of ice cream making and rippling, scooping and serving. Lots of wonderful recipes to whet the appetite such as extra-rich vanilla, strawberry and kiwi fruit, gunpowder, mango, triple berry just to name a few. Also there is a chapter on sauces to serve with your freshly made ice cream.

Rosemary Moon, the author of this book, is a Waitrose consultant and also a food writer.

The following recipe was the best strawberry ice cream I have ever tasted, it's non-custard based and is light and creamy.

ICE CREAM MACHINE BOOK - Rosemary Moon

ISBN 1845430999 - Page 36

(Slightly adapted)

You will need: 450g hulled strawberries, juice of half a lemon or to taste, 150g-200g sieved icing sugar to taste (I used 150g), 300ml double cream (I used whipping cream)

1. Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor, then turn them into a bowl and add the lemon juice and sugar to taste.
2. Stir in the cream.
3. Freeze-churn until the ice cream is ready to serve or pop the ice cream into a tub and freeze for later.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

SUNBURST ROLLS


These may not be 'trendy' but I love pulling this bread apart to reveal the fluffiness! Also, I find the poppy seeds and sesame seeds irresistible.......


The dough was made in my Panasonic bread maker and then each piece of dough shaped into a ball. When I attended college, I was taught by a baker how to make perfect dough balls. Firstly, remove your watch and rings, these harbour bacteria! Make sure that your hands are free of any perfume or hand lotion otherwise this will transfer onto the dough. Take the piece of dough and place under the palm of your hand, then grasp the dough ball lightly with spread out fingers and make round movements on the work surface. You should now have a dough ball without any creases underneath!

Below the recipe are a couple of photographs of bread baked in the bread maker. Speedy Sesame Bread and Light Seeded Wholemeal Bread, these recipes came from Bread Machine Easy, also from Sara Lewis.



Another useful book for baking bread by hand or using the bread machine is Bread by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno.

I came across this very interesting blog which concentrates on bread, called The Knead for Bread, so why not hop over to this website for some wonderful photography and bread recipes.

THE BREAD BOOK - Sara Lewis

ISBN 0600607909 - Page 97

You will need: 475g strong white flour (I always use Waitrose Canadian Strong Flour), 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon caster sugar, 1¼ teaspoons fast-action dried yeast, 275ml water

For the glaze and topping:
1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 2 teaspoons poppy seeds

1. Pop the dough ingredients into the bread pan in the order given for your make of bread maker.
2. Set for the dough option. Press start.
3. At the end of the programme, tip the dough on to a lightly floured surface, knead well and then cut into 16 equal pieces and shape each one into a ball. Arrange the dough balls in 2 rings inside a well buttered 25cm spring form tin. Put 10 rolls in the outer ring, 5 in the second ring and the last remaining roll in the centre.
4.Cover loosely with oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes until the rolls are well risen and touching.
5. Remove the clingfilm, brush with the egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of water and sprinkle the outer ring and central roll with sesame seeds and the second ring with poppy seeds.
6. Bake in a preheated oven 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 - I cooked mine on Fan 180°C - for 20-25 minutes until well risen and golden and the bread sounds hollow when tapped with the fingertips. Check after 15 minutes and cover with foil if over browning.
7. Loosen the edges of the rolls with a palette knife and then turn them out on to a wire rack or large plate, then turn again onto a wire rack so that the tops of the rolls are uppermost. Leave to cool completely.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

CHICKEN, PAK CHOI AND ALMOND STIR-FRY


Xanthe Clay has brought out a wonderful book for the busy cook. The title says it all - 10 Minutes to Table.

Speedy recipes are all well and good, provided they pack a punch on taste. This recipe had plenty of punch but I think the 10 minutes to table was pushing it somewhat. The cookery book market has been saturated with speedy, quick, in minutes, so on and so on.......

This recipe came from a taster of the book, in Sainsbury's July Magazine 2009. Crisp fish with minted mushy peas look wonderful, although if I just served this up to my husband, I think I might be in line for the sack.....Tomato, soft cheese and sesame tart looks promising as does a salad of asparagus with buffalo mozzarella, pine nuts, peas and new potatoes. All of these recipes are to serve two people.

You will need: 2 nests of medium egg or rice noodles, 1 tablespoon oil, 2 peeled cloves of garlic, a handful of blanched almonds, 1 skinless chicken (I used more), 1 head of pak choi, 4 spring onions trimmed, 1 medium red chilli (optional), toasted sesame oil.
For the sauce: 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, 2 tablespoons dry sherry or Chinese rice wine, 1 teaspoon cornflour.

1. Put the kettle on to boil. Put the noodles in a pan, pour over the boiling water, cover and keep to one side. Mix the sauce ingredients together with 4 tablespoons water.
2. Heat a wok or large frying pan, add the oil and heat until almost smoking. slice the garlic, cook until golden, then scoop it out and discard.
3. Add the almonds, cook until pale gold, then remove and keep to one side. Thinly slice the chicken across the grain. Spread it out in the wok, allow to sizzle for a few seconds, then toss until lightly coloured and cooked through, then scoop it out.
4. Slice the pak choi. Slice the spring onions diagonally and the chilli, if using, into thin rings and add both to the wok, with more oil if needed. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then tip in the pak choi and stir for another minute, until just cooked.
5. Return the cooked chicken and almonds to the wok. Add the sauce and heat through, stir-frying everything together, adding a little more water if necessary.
6. Drain the noodles and toss with a few drops of toasted sesame oil. Serve with the stir-fry.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Abel and Cole Organic Mixed Box


Abel and Cole have very kindly sent me an organic mixed fruit and vegetable box to 'try out on your behalf'!

Robert, the delivery driver, brought my very welcome box of goodies at 8.00 am on a Wednesday morning.


The box contained: oranges, apples, melon, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, courgettes, white onions, potatoes, carrots and a green pointed cabbage.

My first impression - everything in the box looked in excellent condition - always a good start - next step was to think about how I was going to use the produce, especially as I didn't want to 'mess about' with any of it.


I used the carrots and courgettes by cutting them on a mandolin to produce small strips of vegetables. These were topped with freshly ground pepper and a few small pieces of butter, then cooked for a few minutes in the microwave. Both vegetables were sweet and full of flavour.


For the red potatoes and white onions, I used a Bill Granger recipe, Parmesan-crusted fish with braised potatoes and peas. The potatoes were noticeably white and full of taste.


The oranges were very juicy and sweet, the apples were crisp but lacked in taste, although it is fair to say my husband disagreed with this. I thought the melon was ripe, cut into it and found it was under-ripe. The cabbage squeaked when I cut it (always a sure sign of freshness), also it had a superb taste and cooked well without going into mush. The cherry tomatoes, cucumber and melon I have yet to try.

One of the great advantages of using Abel and Cole, is that you are given online details regarding your next delivery and can change produce you don't like.

When you get a delivery of fresh produce it can be slightly daunting thinking about how best to store it. This is my way, for the onions and potatoes I use these food preserving bags, for the perishables I have found these stayfresh longer bags really do work, and the produce keeps for ages in the fridge.

An amusing Abel and Cole story here - my son, together with a housemate, were to interview prospective new housemates to share the house. One of the housemates had just started an Abel and Cole delivery, and insisted, if the interviewee hadn't heard of Able and Cole they wouldn't be considered!!! I'm still smiling now.........

Monday, June 01, 2009

BOOZY BERRY & ELDERFLOWER TRIFLE


The weather was glorious last bank holiday weekend. Saturday was taken up buying plants, gardening and getting all the pots and hanging baskets ready for the summer.

On the Sunday we all went to a wedding in Shropshire and for part of the evening sat outside, surrounded by the stunning Shropshire countryside.

Bank holiday Monday - more gardening and preparing a BBQ. We did get the occasional shower but managed to cook the BBQ just before the heavens opened!

I hope you all had a good bank holiday too and found time to get outside and take in some of the much needed sun!

Time wasn't exactly on my side last weekend, but I managed to make this dessert taken from the BBCGoodFood website.

I didn't have any fresh raspberries, but the frozen ones worked just fine. My raspberry canes in the garden are coming on well and I can't wait to start picking raspberries.

We haven't had trifle for ages, I'm thinking perhaps it was Christmas. This dessert was quick and easy, literally just an assembly job, and I know it won't be long before my husband requests this trifle again!

This weekend we went to a very sunny Bristol, walked loads, had great food -especially in the evening at Hotel du Vin in the bistro.













The next day on our way home, we called in at Gloucester where they had a display of tall ships in the historic docks. Next to the docks they have a new shopping mall which is a designer outlet, most of the units were in use but there are still quite a few shops yet to open up.

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