31 October 2011

Bedtime Biscuits for Mouse

A bit weird to review a dog biscuit I know but really worth mentioning because I was sure these were going to be a big time fail and they actually seem to be going down really well. I've seen lots of Lily's Kitchen dog treats around - organic and good for your dog maybe but also not the cheapest thing out there and frankly Mouse is very happy with a tripe stick. However, I did want a little packet of something to keep in our room so she could have a treat when she goes to bed and the Bedtime Biscuits were in the right place at the right time - nice small packaging, not too salty and well... they are supposed to be given at bedtime so I thought I'd give them a try.

I was pretty confident that there was no way Mouse would go for these - they contain honey, yoghurt, Chamomile and Passion Flowers... not things you usually think of when buying dog biscuits. But she loves them - she has one in her bed at night and isn't up all night drinking loads of water and has actually stopped trying to get into bed with us at 5 in the morning... whether this means the chamomile is working or not I don't know but I thought just worth mentioning for any dog owners out there who have been tempted but too scared to try Lily's Kitchen products.

29 October 2011

Hokey Pokey

Crisis - was off to a friends for supper and had spent such a lovely day having lunch and pedicures with my mum that I'd completely forgotten to get anything to take to them... panic not. While the Mumma was getting ready to go out I made some hokey pokey which is another name for honeycomb and then thank god for my Lakeland obsession because it meant I had a little plastic bag and ribbon to put it in.

Really simple easy recipe and much nicer than shop bough chocolates.

Hokey Pokey

100g caster sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

You need a baking tray with some reusable baking paper or greased tin foil on it. This isn't for cooking this is for pouring the hokey pokey onto to set.

1. Put the caster sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan and while it's still off the heat, stir it around to mix it together a bit.

2. Put the pan on a high-ish heat and DO NOT STIR. Just watch it for about 3-5 minutes - it should all melt together and then when all the sugar has gone and it is bubbling and darkish brown (maple syrup colour) remove from the heat and whisk in the bicarbonate of soda. It will all whooosh up but that's what it's supposed to do.

3. Tip this onto the prepared baking tray and leave to set - about 20 minutes. Then break it up by hand, rather than with a rolling pin, and put into it's receptacle.

25 October 2011

Garlic Butter and Cheddar Scones

I always get over excited when I buy a new cookery book. I then get intimidated by it and ignore it for a few weeks before I finally decide what the first attempted recipe shall be. So it was with Short and Sweet by legendary baker Dan Lepard. I didn't find the cover to this particularly appealing but one short minute of peering inside and I had to have it. It covers absolutely everything from basic bread to banana fudge cookies via black russian caramels and soft raspberry coconut ice.

The real decider was Joe disappearing off with three friends on Sunday to go and watch the football and I decided that nothing would be nicer for them at half time than some Garlic Butter and Cheddar scones... so that's what they had. Now these aren't going to win any beauty contests because some of the cheese makes a sort of skirt at the bottom of the scone but this is actually a bonus because this garlicky, leaked cheese is amazing and almost better than the scone itself. What I found especially pleasing is I didn't have to tweak this recipe at all!

Garlic Butter and Cheddar Scones

Makes 6 scones

100g plain flour, plus extra for shaping
100g wholemeal or rye flour
2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 tsp brown sugar
1 clove garlic, finely mashed
50g unsalted butter, in 1 cm cubes
200g cheddar, diced
1 large egg
about 4 tbsp low fat plain yoghurt

Heat the oven to 210C/190C fan/ 410F/ Gas Mark 6.5.  Line a baking tray with non-stick paper. I'd also like to recommend that you dice the cheddar quite small - mine was pretty small but my cheddar skirts were pretty big. I think the smaller the dice, the smaller the skirt.

1. Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the garlic and butter. Rub everything together until the butter has almost disappeared and toss the cheese through.

2. Beat the egg with the yoghurt and stir this in to make a soft dough.

3. Pat this out on a floured surface until it's about 4cm thick and either cut out 6 circles of dough or tidy the edges and cut into squares.

4. Place them a small bit apart on the baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden on top.

5. Leave on the tray to cool slightly before eating.


24 October 2011

Apple and Raisin Muffins

I've wanted to make muffins for ages but never had a muffin tray... then I got one thanks to the lovely but evil le creuset sail a couple of weeks ago. Now the wedding season is finally over I spent most of Sunday in the kitchen baking and on seeing some granny smiths that needed eating I decided to launch into muffin making. They don't look like the ones in the shops that I've seen but that's fine isn't it? They went down very well with the boys at half time during the Fulham game on Sunday afternoon.

Apple and Raisin Muffins

Makes 12

225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g caster sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
60g unsalted butter
150ml milk
2 apples, peeled and grated
1 tsp ground cinnamon
60g raisins

Pre-heat the oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5. Line your muffin tins and melt the butter and set aside to cool a bit.

1. Sift all the dry ingredients together into a bowl and then add the apple and raisins.

2. In another bowl whisk together the egg, butter and milk. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and quickly stir everything together. It should be quite thick. You can add a drop more milk if you think it's too stiff but you really don't want to overwork the mixture.

3. Fill the muffin cases until they are about two thirds full and then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until risen and golden.

4. Leave to cool in their tin until they are cool enough to be handled and then transfer to a cooling rack.
Not bad for a first attempt!

17 October 2011

Simple Salad Dressing #1

I know most people know how to do a salad dressing but this is one of my favourites and I make enough to put in a bottle and then it sits happily in the fridge being yummy and  you don't have to make up a new batch every time you have a salad.

I've used the regular measurements for one batch if you want to fill a bottle multiply all amounts by five except the garlic (use 2 bulbs instead of one), salt (use 1 tsp still and then add to taste) and pepper (same as salt).

Simple Mustard Salad Dressing

For 1 salad

1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp cider vinegar (or red wine if you prefer)
4 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed

Whisk together, or if you are making a bottle full I do this in a blender.


11 October 2011

Sarah Raven's Uncooked Autumn Chutney

A lot of people I know are scared of making chutney and so for some time I've been trying to track down the easiest chutney recipe to put on here so those people have somewhere simple to start. I think I have finally found it, once again thanks to Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook.

I made half quantities of this because my fridge is filling up ridiculously fast at the moment with things I've made in jars and I just wanted to try this out to see what it was like but I've put the full quantity amounts here as per the recipe. It is also, apart from the 36 hour wait, very quick to make. I did the chopping etc quite late on a Sunday night and it didn't take very long at all!

Uncooked Autumn Chutney

Makes 7-8 jars

900g apples, peeled and cored
450g onions, quartered
450g stoned dates
450g sultanas
450g demerara sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
Cayenne Pepper to taste
450ml white wine vinegar

You will just need a big china mixing bowl and your food processor if you have one otherwise a sharp knife and something good on the tele to watch while you chop, will do. I used granny smiths and I weighed them before I peeled/cored them.

1. Chop the apples, onions and dates or pulse them carefully in the food processor - you don't want to over-do it and make a puree. When you are chopping everything remember that it's not going to be cooked down so you want it to be as fine or as chunky as you would want to eat - I think I could have done with making mine a bit smaller.

2. Put the mixture into a large china bowl and add the rest of the ingredients (sultanas, sugar, ginger, salt, cayenne and white wine vinegar) and stir together.

Everything in it's bowl

3. Cover with clingfilm and leave for 36 hours, stirring occasionally.

Everything in it's bowl after 36 hours

4. Put into warm sterilized jars. This will keep for months if not years and is delicious served with cheese on toast.


3 October 2011

Blackberry and Crabapple Jelly

For years I have been boring my family about going to pick blackberries - I'm always desperate to and then it just never happens for whatever reason. This year I dragged Joe and four over-excited Jack Russells out to the hedgerows near my mother's house and finally managed to get some blackberries to take home and make something with. I thought it was going to be jam... but then Joe found some crab apples and it turned into jelly.

I've always wanted to buy a jelly strainer but never did and so had a mini melt down at 9pm on the Sunday when I finally decided to start making jelly. Luckily my husband managed to rig me one up using a muslin and the cupboard handles but I now think I really should get one for any future jelly emergencies!

This was pretty easy to do - the setting point is the only nervewracking bit. For more info on jams and jellies I've created a whole page for them so you can have a look at that if you are having trouble.

Blackberry and Crab apple Jelly

Filled about 3 x 1lb jam jars

1kg blackberries
1kg crab apples
700-900g granulated sugar

Now if you have a jelly strainer then you will need that with a clean scorched muslin. If you don't then you need to rig one up. I used my largest saucepan for this and had a measuring jug under the muslin for the fruit juice to drip into. You will needed sterilised jars and lids and a ladle is handy unless you are clever and have a pan with a spout.

1. Remove all the stalks and any really yucky bits from the blackberries.

2. Remove the stalks from the crab apples and wash them if necessary, then chop them roughly - leaving the peel on and the core in.

3. Put in a large saucepan with 1.2 litres of water, bring slowly to simmering point and then simmer until the fruit is soft and pulpy. I think this took  around 40 mins for me.

4. Remove from the heat and pour into the prepared muslin/jelly strainer. Leave it to drip through overnight - resist all temptation to squeeze the fruit through as this will make the jelly cloudy.

5. The next day measure the juice - I had 1 litre - and for every 600ml of juice use 450g sugar.

6. Put the juice into a large pan and bring to the boil - as it begins to boil add the sugar and stir until it is all dissolved. Then boil rapidly for about 10 minutes until it has reached setting point - I used a jam thermometer but you can use other methods which I'll put on my Kitchen Tips page - there's a Jams and Jellies section.

7. Skim the jelly and ladle into jars and seal as quickly as possible. Use within 12 months.
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