Saturday, 28 September 2013

Olive You

They say that our tastes change as we get older - 
well, it's taken me nearly 50 40 years to get used to the taste of olives.
I still can't eat them on their own, 
but black olives in a sweet, tomato sauce, with salty anchovies - delicious.

Here's a fabulous low-fat, low-cal Chicken Puttanesca from Sarah Raven. 
Click on the link, to show you how it could look 
if you weren't being pestered to just 'get it on the plate.'    ;-)

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Sweet Dumpling

I really wasn't going to blog these Apple Dumplings.
I made them for the first time at the weekend and I was running so late they just kind of got thrown together,
but,  wow! were they good.
If you make one pudding this autumn, make it these apple dumplings.

I found the recipe at all recipes and then spent about an hour trying to convert it to UK measurements and reduce it to 4 apples.
Here's my approx. recipe. I don't think it needs to be exact.

Shortcrust pastry
4 granny smith apples
Juice of 1 lemon
80g butter (cut into 6 pieces. 4 for the apples and 2 for the sauce)
120g brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Roll out the pastry into 4 approx. 6" x 6" squares. Depending on the size of your apples!
Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a shallow dish.
Peel and core the apples. Roll each apple in the lemon juice, then in the sugar and spice mix.
Place an apple on each pastry square and put a piece of butter inside. 
If there's  any remaining sugar mix pour it over the apples.
With slightly wet fingertips bring a corner of pastry to the top of the apple, then bring the opposite corner up and press together. Bring up the remaining corners and press together to completely seal in the apple.
This is where I was rushing, so my apples look a little rough. If you take your time you can make them nice and neat and even decorate them with pastry leaves.
Put the completed dumplings in an ovenproof dish.

For the sauce I stuck to the original recipe, but had loads left over, so I think it could easily be halved.

Approx half measures = 465ml water, 300g white sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract. (Plus the remaining pieces of butter.)
Place everything in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Boil for 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved.
Pour over the dumplings.
Don't expect the sauce to look like caramel. At this stage mine was very thin and pale - but it does thicken and caramalise in the oven.

Bake for 50 - 60 minutes.

This recipe definitely makes it into the hall of fame.
They were really delicious and  big hit with my hubby :-)

Saturday, 21 September 2013

I Believe In Soup

I can just about cope with taking the dog for a long walk, across the fields, 
in the chilly September air,
if I know there is a big pot of simmering, soup waiting for me when I get home.
This Lentil and Bacon Soup is a real winner and one I will make over and over.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Croissants - not just for breakfast!

If you're looking for a tasty alternative to everyday pizza, this is it.
These stuffed croissants are easy to make and would be great for a Halloween Party, or any chilled out gathering ;-)

You could make up a whole batch of these with different fillings, but I used the holy trinity of pizza flavours - cheese, onion and tomato - and then added some chorizo.

Preheat oven to 180C
Fry the onions and some sliced button mushrooms in a little oil, then add some sliced chorizo.
Tip in a tin of chopped tomatoes (I always add a teaspoon of sugar to my tomatoes) and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. 
Cut deep slashes into the top of the croissants and put them on a baking tray. Fill them with your mixture.
Top the croissants with grated cheddar and bake for 5 or 6 minutes - until the cheese has melted.

You cannot eat just one of these - so make sure you make plenty!!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Keep Calm and Eat Pudding

Autumn is my favourite time of year - and it's just around the corner.
I am looking forward to swapping my ice creams, fruit salads and cheesecakes
for sponges, crumbles and cobblers - all with lashings of custard (of course).

Here's a delicious variation on the classic bread and butter pudding - 
Baked Maple & Walnut Croissant Pudding

75g sultanas
3tbsp brandy
50g butter
4 large croissants
40g walnuts, roughly chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
300ml milk
150ml single cream
120ml maple syrup
25g demerara sugar
Place the sultanas and brandy in a small pan and heat until warm. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for an hour.
Lightly grease your dish. Cut the croissants into thick slices and spread with butter on one side.
Arrange the croissant slices, butter side up, and slightly overlapping, in your dish. Sprinkle over the brandy soaked sultanas and walnuts.
In a large bowl beat the eggs and milk together. Then gradually beat in the single cream and maple syrup.
Pour the custard through a sieve, over the croissants.
Leave to stand for 30 mins, so that the croissants absorb some of the custard.
Sprinkle the sugar over the top. Cover the dish and bake for 40 mins in a pre-heated oven.  180C/160C Fan.
Remove the lid and continue to bake for a further 20 mins, or until the custard is set and the top is golden.