Mushroom and Kale Soup

Blimey, not another soup recipe! We've already had nettle, tomato, wild garlic, chicken, vegetable, artichoke, pumpkin, and even another mushroom one! I know, I know, but until recently, I've never been really happy with the using water instead of stock for the vegetarian ones; vegetable stock powder invariably gives a celery flavour to the whole soup, and to be honest, even when I've made vegetable stock I've never been really happy with it.

However, I reckon I've found the answer, at least for mushroom soups. Dried Porcini absolutely transforms them. I'd never bothered with it until now because of the price. But, recently I've been looking for things that help to lower my calorie intake and have been surprised; it's not always the lower calorie items that are best. For example, you get far more 'bang for your buck' from, say, high calorie Stilton that a reduced calorie cheese. Just try it, tiny pieces of stilton will add flavour, whereas you'd need double the amount of the lower calorie product. Well, when I was thinking along these lines, I also realised that the same applies to using very small amounts of expensive items, and there's no doubt that Porcini is expensive: £60 - £80 per kilo, but if you only use 10gm it's only 60p, or about 10p per bowl.

Kale and Mushroom soup ingredients

Click here, there's more to read...

Used tags: , ,

Fruit Tarts

Once you've mastered the Pâte sucrée recipe there are numerous things that you can use it for. One of the nicest is a fruit tart. Whether made with one type of fruit or many, plain pastry cream or flavoured, they're simple, easy to make, look impressive, and most importantly, taste good.

Once the pastry cases have been baked, the only real cooking left to do is to make a pastry cream, or to use its posh french name, crème pâtissière. Either way, it's a type of custard!

Fruit Tart

Recipes for it vary, but contain milk, egg and some form of flour. Most recipes just use egg yolk which leaves the egg whites to use up; as you'll already have some from making the pastry, this recipe is good as it uses the whole egg. It's from the book Take Twelve Cooks and is a recipe by by Michael Nadell.

Click here, there's more to read...

Used tags: , ,

Pâte sucrée (sweet shortcrust pastry) & Afternoon Tea

Diamond Wedding Tea

Mum and Dad have recently celebrated their Diamond (60th) Wedding Anniversary. As well as sending them to a local restaurant for a meal, we decided to have an 'afternoon tea'.

For me, afternoon tea is lots of small patisserie and cake items; oh, and some 'token' sandwiches beforehand. I'm not one for scones and cream as part of 'afternoon tea'; they're for other occasions when they can be enjoyed on their own. Now, we're not 'The Savoy', or even 'The Great British Bake Off', so I choose just a small selection of simple things: individual lemon meringue pies, fruit tarts, and meringues, along with cup cakes made by my daughter Hannah. The meringue uses up the egg whites left after the yolks have been used for the pastry and lemon meringue filling. Savouries were cucumber, egg, ham and cheese sandwiches, some even had the crusts cut off!

Click here, there's more to read...

Used tags:

Whole Green Fig Preserve

Figs

Following my recipe for fig jam online, I was contacted by a very nice guy called John Titterton who said:

I noticed your blog update with the fig jam recipe and thought I would pass this recipe on to you. It is made using green figs - harvested just before they ripen on the tree. The preserved figs are best eaten with a nice soft cheese such as Brie or Camembert, but are also good with some harder cheeses. Maybe even a nice home smoked cheese and crackers!

The recipe was from my father, who used to make a few hundred bottles at a time and passed to me after his death. I make a batch every year if I am at home, but they do not last too long!

Regards,
John Titterton
Cape Town, South Africa.

Regrettably, the file he attached became corrupted when I lost a lot of my emails, and with one thing and another, it's taken this long for me to be able to put John's dad's recipe online.

Whole Green Fig Preserve

Ingredients:
100 green figs
2 tablespoons bicarbonate of soda
3.4 litres water

Method:

  • Scrub the figs and cut a cross into the end opposite the stalk.
  • Mix the water and bicarbonate of soda and soak the figs overnight.
  • Remove from the water and weigh the figs, recording the weight.
  • Place into clean boiling water and boil for 15 minutes or until soft.
  • Drain and then dry the figs well, removing excess water.
Syrup:
  • For each 500g figs or part thereof, mix 500ml water with 500g sugar.
  • Boil the syrup until it just starts to thicken.
  • Add the figs and boil until the syrup is thick.
  • Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice for each 250g figs and just bring to the boil again before removing from the heat and letting cool.
  • Bottle the figs and cover with the syrup.

Note 1: If the syrup froths whilst boiling, add a small lump of butter.

Note 2: A small stick of ginger can be added during the boiling process to add a slightly different flavour.

Many thanks John.

Used tags: , ,

North Staffordshire or Derbyshire Oatcakes

It's quite amazing how certain foods are so local, that even though you live in the County bordering those where they're made, you've managed to get to 56 years old without ever having them.

The Derbyshire or North Staffordshire oatcake is such a one; it wasn't until about 6 weeks ago, on a visit to Hartington, that I had tasted my first oatcake. I've hardly stopped eating them ever since!

North Staffordshire or Derbyshire Oatcakes

Unlike the biscuit that shares its name, the oatcake is soft. I'll leave the debate as to whether they're originally a Staffordshire or Derbyshire speciality to others, but certainly, Stoke on Trent is now its spiritual home. 'National Oatcake Day' is celebrated in the area on 8th August, and the local football club's fanzine is even named after them.

Click here, there's more to read...