Friday, 15 October 2010
Thursday, 14 October 2010
150g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
2 x 15ml tbsp golden syrup
175g dark muscovado sugar
150g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
25g best-quality cocoa powder, sifted
zest 2 oranges and juice of 1
1 x 900g (2lb) loaf tin
Preheat the oven to 170oC/150oC fan oven/gas mark 3 and line your loaf tin with baking parchment or a paper loaf-tin liner.
Beat the already soft butter with the syrup and the sugar until you have a fairly smooth caffé Americano cream, though the sugar will always have a bit of grit about it.
Mix the flour, bicarb and cocoa powder together, and beat into the syrup mixture 1 tbsp of these dry ingredients before beating in 1 egg. Then add another couple of spoonfuls of the dry ingredients before beating in the second egg. Carry on beating in the remaining dry ingredients and then add, still beating, the orange zest and finally, gradually, the juice.
Pour and scrape into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, though check 5 minutes before and be prepared to keep it in the oven 5 minutes longer if need be. Leave to cool a little in the tin on a wire rack, then turn out with care and leave on the rack to cool.
Monday, 11 October 2010
Makes 12 (I ended up with 18)
2 eating apples
250g plain flour (or spelt flour)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
125g light brown sugar, plus 4 tsp for sprinkling
60ml runny natural yoghurt
125ml flavourless vegetable oil
75g natural (unblanched) almonds
Preheat the oven to 200oC/180oC fan oven/gas mark 6 and line your muffin tin with papers.
Peel and core the apples, then chop into small dice (about 1cm) and put them to one side.
Measure the flour, baking powder and 1 tsp of the ground cinnamon into a bowl.
Whisk together the 125g brown sugar, the honey, yoghurt, vegetable oil and eggs in another bowl or jug.
Chop the almonds roughly and add half of them to the flour mixture, and put the other half into a small bowl with the second tsp of ground cinnamon and the 4 extra tsp brown sugar. This will make the topping for the muffins.
Now fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Add the chopped apple, and stir to combine but don’t over mix.
Spoon this bumpy batter into the muffin papers, then sprinkle the rubbly topping mixture over them.
Pop the tin into the prepared oven, and bake for about 20 minutes, by which time they will have risen and become golden.
Take the tin out of the oven and let it stand for about 5 minutes before gingerly taking out the muffins and placing them on a wire cooling rack.
Sunday, 10 October 2010
For the white sauce:
750ml of whole milk
100g of unsalted butter
55g plain flour
100ml double cream
plus a good handful of grated extra mature cheddar cheese and Parmesan to sprinkle over the top
Preheat your oven to 180C/350F or Gas 4
You will need a large frying pan, a large saucepan and a 2.5 litre oven proof dish. And also a balloon whisk and a wooden spoon.
In a large frying pan heat a about a tablespoon oil over a medium heat. Fry gently the onion and carrot for about 10 minutes, moving it around from time to time. Add the garlic and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Then set this aside while you cook the meat.
Add another glug of oil to the frying pan, turn the heat up and fry the beef and pork to brown it, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Keep it moving so it browns evenly. When it's browned nicely, now you can put the onion mixture back into the frying pan with the meat. Give it all a good stir. Add the tomato purée and cook for one minute then tip in the tin of tomatoes including the juice, oregano and red wine. Add a little salt and pepper to season. Still stirring, allow it to come up to simmering point. Once everything is simmering away nicely, leave it to cook over a low heat for about 30 minutes. Be sure to give it a stir now and then so you know it's not going too dry. By now you should be well on the way to having a nice thick, reduced concentrated sauce, that has very little liquid left in it. If you haven't - no worries just leave it for another 10 minutes or whatever it takes - you might have the heat a bit too low. Have a taste to check the seasoning, when you're happy with the thickness of the sauce, put the pan to one side and make the white sauce.
Put the butter and flour into a large thick-based saucepan and put it over a medium heat whilst stirring with a wooden spoon. Let the flour and butter cook for a minute or so (or the sauce will be lumpy). Now, remove from the heat and using a balloon whisk, add the milk in a little at a time, whisking all the time. Once all the milk is in, put the saucepan over a gentle heat and whisk continuously until the sauce comes to simmering point and thickens nicely. Add some salt and pepper to season and have a taste to make sure it's okay. Don't leave the salt out or the sauce will have no taste. Then, with the heat as low as possible, continue to cook the sauce for about 10 minutes. When it's nice and thick, remove from the heat and stir in the cream, and a pinch of nutmeg.
Once that's done you can turn off the heat and cook your pasta - following the instructions on the packet. Go for very slightly undercooked 'al dente' because the pasta will continue to cook when it goes in the oven.
Drain the pasta and reheat the white sauce, stirring all the time. Tip the pasta into your meat sauce and gently give it a stir to coat it well - you don't want the pasta to break up.
Put half of the mixture into your oven proof dish (2.5 litre in size) and spoon over a little of the white sauce. Don't fuss about the evenness of it, just pour over randomly. Add the rest of the pasta and meat mixture. Now pour the rest of the white sauce over to cover the pasta as best you can.
Sprinkle the top with a good amount of grated cheddar and Parmesan.
Monday, 4 October 2010
Hi everyone I’m back from a lovely restful weekend at the lodge. The weather wasn’t the best and it rained on and off but we made the most of it. When the weather was dry we picked more cooking and eating apples, chopped up wood to bring back for our open fires and enjoyed our walks around the woodland and open field we have at the lodge. It was a very productive weekend and I came home with 2 gorgeous new tablecloths and matching napkins that my mother in law made with the fabric I recently bought from eBay. My Lemon Curd and Blueberry Loaf Cake was thoroughly enjoyed and didn’t last beyond Sunday evening, it’s definitely a must bake! In addition I also made this scrumptious Banana Chocolate and Pecan Loaf, I couldn’t go away for the weekend and leave the sad looking bananas in my fruit bowl. I adapted this loaf to my taste and added chocolate instead of raisins and Total Greek Yoghurt instead of buttermilk. The end result was a moist, chocolatey, nutty and very yummy banana loaf.