Archive for December, 2011
I’ve spent today belatedly trying to add some organisation to the end of the year! Anyone else out there doing that? I’ve tidied, cleaned out my kitchen utensil drawer, made some leek and potato soup and some of Cathy’s fabulous Salad in a jar Giardiniera which is vegetables in a blend of oil and vinegar, so fresh tasting and very addictive! As you can see after the splurges of the holiday season I’m already feeling guilty and looking to a healthier January!
I’ve had a good 2011, its been quite eventful. In May I wrote a review for Five Minute bread by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois on the wonderful online magazine Foodie Bugle!
I went to Vanessa Kimbell’s book launch of Prepped! in June. That was so exciting for me, nerve-wracking too as I made some cupcakes using a recipe from the book to take along!
My husband and I had a fabulous holiday in Florida in August where we managed to drive more than 2000 miles in 2 wonderful weeks of exploring. We also met the delightful Wendy of Sunchowders Emporia this really was a highlight of 2011 for me! I just loved Wendy and know she will always be a friend of mine. Her jams and pickles are amazing too, I just can’t wait for them to hit the big time, she so deserves it!
In November I took part in the food blogging gift swap Lets Make Christmas organised by the lovely Vanessa Kimbell at Fortnum & Mason. By some stroke of amazing luck I won the drinks section with the Slivovitz I entered! My prize is a champagne tasting evening in February which is something to look forward to in 2012!
Writing my blog has been a new experience to me and thank you to all who have stopped by to read it (it still astounds me that anyone, no matter how few, reads this!)
There have been many other highlights and good times, but in fear of losing your interest suffice to say many, many wishes for a healthy, happy 2012 to you all!
I have just taken part in Seasons Eatings, organised by the lovely Katie of Thyme for Cooking. Its a worldwide holiday gift exchange to spice up our holidays! The idea was that we sent a small gift of a herb, spice or food from where we live, with a recipe of how to use it to someone somewhere else in the world. I received a wonderful, generous array of wild rice, dried cranberries, some wild rice seasoning and spud seasoning (see picture above) from Kate in Minnesota. With the holiday season busy as it is I am only just getting around to my Seasons eatings post after Christmas. But that turned out to be a good thing as after the indulgent few days (weeks!) I’ve had I was craving something healthier and my new wild rice is perfect for healthy recipes!
I cooked the rice using the wild rice seasoning in the water. The seasoning contains salt, raspberry granules, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, orange peel and herbs. If you aren’t lucky enough to have this I’m sure you could use stock in your cooking water as an alternative. When looking for wild rice recipes I came across many salads, lots were creamy which didn’t appeal to me, I really just wanted the rice and cranberries to be the stars of this salad so I didn’t add to many other ingredients. I ended up with a lovely simple salad that I thoroughly enjoyed, Id forgotten how much I like wild rice! Thanks Kate for the lovely package and Katie for organising!
Wild Rice and Cranberry Salad (2 servings)
- 100 grams Wild rice
- 1 litre cold water
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Spring onions, chopped
- 1 tsp Lemon zest
- 1 tbsp Flat parsley, chopped
- 30 grams Dried Cranberries
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Put the rice in a medium saucepan and pour over cold water. At this point add some stock or salt as you wish to the water. Bring to a hard boil, reduce heat cover and simmer for 30 minutes. I stirred a couple of times during cooking.
- After 30 minutes turn off the heat and leave to stand with the lid still on for 20-30 minutes until the rice reaches the desired texture.
- Meanwhile make the dressing by adding the olive oil and lemon zest together and whisking well.
- Drain the rice and place in a dish, adding the chopped spring onion, olive oil and lemon zest dressing. Stir gently to coat
- Add the parsley and cranberries, stir gently and season with pepper to taste.
I enjoyed this salad at room temperature with a mix of green leaves.
I recently took part in a Secret Santa food gift swap and have been astounded at the generosity and imagination of the people taking part. I am not really the most imaganitive of people but I am good at following rules so while the package got posted by the date specified it sadly wasnt the most exciting of parcels, I do apologise for that to the recipient! After the event and seeing the many wonderful things others had sent I began looking at more recipes for sweet treats that would survive posting. I came across this recipe from Martha Stewarts Everyday Food. It sounded so good I decided to try it right away. I am a fan of almonds and covering them in the cinnamon sugar coating was good enough for me but then they are covered in chocolate and rolled in cocoa! They really are a “Christmassy” treat. I put 150 grams of the almonds into little bags and tied them with ribbon for handing out with some of my Christmas cards.
The recipe really just works so I havent changed it but I added the word cinnamon into the title as cinnamon is not as popular in the UK as it is in America so I didnt want to surprise anyone with the unwanted taste of cinnamon!
Cinnamon Sugar, Chocolate Covered Almonds (from this recipe)
- 14 ounces whole almonds (unblanched)
- 10 ounces Caster sugar (I use unrefined)
- 2 ounces Water
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 16 ounces Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped
- 6 ounces Cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Put the whole almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes until the nuts are toasted. Shake the pan half way through cooking.
- Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Add the sugar, water, cinnamon and almonds to a medium sized saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves and turns a golden brown. Tip onto the lined baking sheet and chill in fridge or freezer until hard, around 15 minutes.
- Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simering water.
- Line 1 or 2 abking sheets (depending on size) with greasepoof paper. Add the chilled almonds to the chocolate, stirring until all almonds are coated with the chocolate. Tip the almonds onto the baking sheet(s), separate the almonds with a fork and chill until teh chocolate is set, about 5 minutes.
- Some of the almonds will be stuck together and to the paper, break them up.
- Put the cocoa powder into a bowl and add the almonds, tumble the almonds gently in the cocoa until all are covered.
- Shake off excesss powder and store in a tupperware box or put into little bags to give as gifts.
I’ve been guilty of only using cranberries for a sauce to go with turkey. After Thanksgiving I had some left and rather than freezing them I wanted to use them differently. The Cranberry orange muffin at Starbucks was my inspiration but rather than make muffins, I wanted to make a loaf. I found this recipe on the internet and its my new favourite cake! It really wakes up the taste buds! It has a zingy, zesty taste. Orangey with tart little bursts of cranberry cutting through the sweetness. It’s like a little burst of sunshine in your mouth! As well as tasting good, this cake only has a little butter compared to other cakes so it’s not so high in fat!
Cranberry and Orange Loaf (adapted from this recipe)
- 250 gram plain (all-purpose) flour.
- 1 & half tsp baking powder.
- 1/2 tsp baking soda.
- 200 gram sugar (I use unrefined).
- Zest of 1 orange.
- 150 ml orange juice (from about 1 and half oranges depending on size).
- 60 gram unsalted butter, melted.
- 1 large egg, beaten.
- 125 gram fresh cranberries, rinsed.
- Preheat oven to 180 C, 350 F, Gas 4.
- Base line and grease a loaf tin (mine was a 2 lb tin).
- Weigh flour, baking powder, soda, sugar into a bowl and give a little whisk.
- Add melted butter followed by the egg, zest and juice of the orange. I used my mixer but it turns out fine if you just mix with a wooden spoon and some elbow grease!
- Fold the cranberries in by hand.
- Pour into prepared loaf tin.
- Bake for 55-60 minutes.
- Let cool in tin on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before turning cake out of tin to finish cooling.