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It’s the Jubilee weekend! I have had all year to plan what to make but in typical Jayne style I left it until the last-minute! The rest of my life is fairly organised, I’m a lover of lists but for some reason when it comes to cooking I’m more relaxed and often do things at the last-minute, quickly flicking through one of my cookery books minutes before going to the supermarket looking for something new to try. If you come to dinner at my house you will most likely be served a meal that I have never made before! For the Jubilee weekend I wanted to make a cake, something traditional, something with a royal tone. I decide to make a Victoria sponge, strangely a cake that I don’t make all that often, I do like it, it’s just often overlooked while I’m trying other recipes, so many cakes so little time! The Victoria sponge is indeed named after Queen Victoria and was apparently created by her lady in waiting, the Duchess of Bedford, who is also said to have started the English afternoon tea tradition. It seemed fitting then that I celebrated the Diamond Jubilee with a cake that was originally made for a Queen!
This recipe is the one used by my friend Pearl, she makes a wonderful Victoria sponge, her cake rises so well and is wonderfully light. Where Victoria sponge is concerned I think the recipe is pretty standard. Traditionally the filling was just jam but I wanted something a little more fancy so added cream, decadence seemed the order of the day!
- 200 grams Caster sugar
- 200 grams Unsalted butter, softened
- 4 Eggs at room temperature
- 1 tsp Vanilla essence
- 200 grams Self Raising flour
- 1.5 tsp Baking powder
- 2 tbsp Milk
For the filling
- 4 tbsp Jam, I used jumbleberry but any berry jam would be nice.
- 300 ml Double (heavy) Cream, whipped. Careful not to over whip as I did!
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, 350 F, Gas mark 4. Grease and line 2 8 inch round baking tins.
- Cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy, I use a stand mixer but a wooden spoon and elbow grease works just fine!
- Add an egg, mix to incorporate, repeat with another egg mix and repeat until all the eggs are used.
- Stir the vanilla.
- Add half of the flour, mix in gently add the rest and mix in gently, do not over stir at this point.
- Gently stir in the milk.
- Divide the mixture between the prepared cake tins.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Allow cakes to cool in their tins then carefully remove. Remove baking paper.
- Spread the jam onto one sponge half, followed by the cream. Sandwich the cakes together a sprinkle with icing sugar.
It’s that time of the year again when everyone is trying to be healthy! I know that’s rather boring but after the Christmas period when most of us over indulged and ate less than our share of healthier foods January is a time to nourish ourselves. It makes us feel better to do some good after all that excess. I have yet to decide which diet I am doing this January! (I’m only half-joking!) While I ponder over that decision I am avoiding processed foods, drinking lots of water and stuffing myself with healthy vegetables, especially greens. Green is the colour this January! On a recent trip to the local market I came home with a bag stuffed with greens including kale, spinach, cavalo nero and brussels tops. I had however got carried away with all these greens, too much just for me, my husband has an aversion to greens! I find the shelf life of greens shorter than some other vegetables so as speed to use them was necessary I whipped up a speedy soup using the spinach and some of the kale.
This is a use what you have kind of soup, with a base of potato, onion and garlic and what greens you have or fancy. The greens are only wilted so they retain their vibrant green colour and their nutrients. Its very green, something this green has to be good for you! Although my husband hates most vegetables he will eat spinach so I hoped that by mainly using spinach he would at least try it! Well he did try and whats more really enjoyed it! He knows me well though and while eating said ” I know there is more than just spinach in here and that you will tell me when I’m finished”!
I did tell him about the kale in the soup when we had finished but he declared it to be delicious! Ever keen to feed my husband vegetables I will be making this again.
Healthy Green Soup
- 1 medium potato, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 350 gram spinach leaves, washed
- 150 gram kale (I used curly kale) washed
- 1 litre stock, vegetable or chicken as you prefer
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large saucepan heat the oil and add the potato and onion. Coat with the oil and turning the heat right down cover and leave to sweat for about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic to the pan and stir.
- Add the stock and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until the potato is soft.
- Add the green leaves to the pan, no need to stir. Put the lid on and leave until the greens have wilted, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and puree to desired consistency using a blender or as I did an immersion blender.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.
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 always had cranberry sauce with turkey, from the little portion in the tv dinners we grew up with to the solid lump that came out of a can, I couldn’t have turkey without it. As a kid I loved it, I thought it was like having jam with your meal! The first time I made my own was in the early 90’s when Delia Smith had a Christmas series on tv. I loved that series, it’s the first cookery series I remember watching on tv. Possibly because it was a series devoted to Christmas it really caught my interest and I hung on to Delia’s every word. Delia inspired me to make a Christmas cake, my own stuffing, to get my turkey from a butcher, the name Kelly Bronze and how to make your own cranberry sauce. That was the time in my life when I stopped just cooking dinner but started enjoying the ingredients and making things from scratch. Delia, I believe, was almost responsible for fresh cranberries becoming available in the UK!
Although I started off all those yeas ago using Delia’s recipe it has now become my own with different additions over the years. This version fills the house with the scent of Christmas. With the addition of red wine, cinnamon and cloves its reminiscent of mulled wine. The tartness of the cranberries and the hint of citrus balance out the sweetness so it’s still sweet but not overly so. It’s an easy all in one pan, ready in 5-10 minutes recipe and can be made in advance.
- 300 gram fresh cranberries, rinsed (supermarket punnets differ, just use 1 punnet).
- Zest and juice of 1 orange.
- 100 gram light muscodavo sugar.
- 100 ml red wine.
- 1 bay leaf (fresh if you can).
- 1 cinnamon stick.
- 3 cloves.
- Put all of the ingredients in a pan.
- Heat over a medium heat until it all starts to come to the boil and the cranberries start popping.
- Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the cranberries are soft (about 5 minutes).
- Turn off the heat and leave to cool with the cinnamon stick, cloves and bay leaf left in to infuse with flavor.
- When cool fish out the cinnamon, cloves and bay leaf (good luck finding the cloves!)
- Store in the fridge in a clean jar or a Tupperware pot. This will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
- Serve at room temperature.
Tomorrow I will have been blogging for roughly a year, that is not something I ever thought I would hear myself say! I say roughly as I started a blog with posterous but didn’t get on with it so after just a few weeks on November 14th I moved over to WordPress. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have a blog much less anyone read it! Well that last sentence may be debatable!! While I still have much to learn its been a blast and thank you to those of you who have shared it with me!
One person that was a great inspiration to me when I first started blogging is Cathy, otherwise known as Mrs Wheelbarrow and its her recipe for Slivovitz that I want to share with you today. On a whim I just happened to have bought some damsons that I had no idea what to do with. Cathy’s timely post for Slivovitz was all the inspiration I needed!
Slivovitz is a plum schnapps made in Eastern Europe. I’d had success with making Limoncello earlier in the year and as the Slivovitz takes 3 months of brewing it would be ready for Christmas which seemed perfect. The plums are left whole, (Cathy says that the pits are an important factor in the final product), pierced and left to steep in vodka with sugar in a large jar, so easy!
I should have written this post at the time of making the Slivovitz when damsons were in season but never having tasted it before I didn’t dare! Well in the interests of writing this post I tasted it a little early and its good! Its sweet and warming and very drinkable! It will make a lovely winter tipple or gift. Although too late to for you to make for this Christmas it’s well worth saving the idea for next year! I also meant to do this post a little earlier to take some along to Vanessa Kimbell’s (the person who encouraged me to start a blog!) Lets Make Christmas food bloggers gift swap but I fear I’ve missed the deadline! One thing I must improve on with my blogging is actually getting the post written! Wish me luck with that, and in the meantime.. Cheers!
An update – I will now be bringing this to Lets Make Christmas!
A second update, I’ve never done 2 updates before and am not sure if “one does that” but I had to share! My slivovitz won the alcohol category at the Lets Make Christmas food bloggers gift swap! I’m so happy, excited, shocked! Truly I went along simply to meet other bloggers and swap a gift, I never expected for a minute that I may be in with a chance of winning anything, the quality of the food gifts was outstanding as was the company! Thanks to Leiths School of Food and Wine for the Champagne tasting I won! Also many thanks to Vanessa for organising such a wonderful event and Dan Lepard for his judging!
Slivovitz (from this recipe from Mrs Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen)
- 2.5 lbs Damson plums, unblemished, washed and left whole.
- 10 oz Sugar
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 2 strips of Lemon peel
- Vodka approx 500 – 600 ml
- Pierce each damson right to the pit with a sharp knife. Put all the damsons into a large clean jar.
- Add the sugar, cinnamon stick and lemon peel.
- Pour the vodka over until the plums are covered.
- Seal the jar. If, like me, you are forgetful put a label with the date on the jar.
- Each day for 2 weeks turn the jar over to mix the contents, no shaking. After this time the sugar should be dissolved.
- Store the jar in a dark place for 3 months.
- After 3 months strain through a coffee filter paper and decant into nice bottles.
Christmas, it’s really not very far away!
I fear I’ve finally “grown up” as Christmas seems to have lost its lustre for me. Never did I think I’d utter the words “I don’t want to think about that” when the subject of Christmas is raised ! Whatever next? I’ve developed a taste for red wine but the taste everyone said I’d acquire when I got older for blue cheese and oysters still eludes me so perhaps there is sill some youth left and I won’t yet not turn into one of those bah humbuggers (like that word!).
Luckily there is some sparkle and excitement ahead as Vanessa from Prepped has organised Lets make Christmas a food blogger gift swap to be held at the glorious Fortnum & Mason! I do feel that familiar seasonal excitement when I think of it as I’m lucky enough to be invited! The idea is that we all make a food gift to take along to swap at the end of the afternoon
It was a hard decision to think what to take! Has anyone ever done one of those “lucky dip” secret Santa type gift exchanges where your gift is the last one to be chosen? That happened to me many years ago and the thought of that is rather scarring! Decisions, my chutney isn’t ready yet. I’ve left it too late to make Christmas cake, I’ve made some alcoholic drinks this year but they are still brewing, untasted and not ready.
With amazing good fortune I saw this post by MJ on her blog, The Merry Gourmet at last week and knew I had found my gift to make. Of course I had to try them “just to make sure”! Well if you like nuts this recipe is a corker! Sweet yet salty with just a faint warmth from the cayenne. I tried them out on my friend after I had indulged a little too much and I got a text the next day to say that unless I was going to keep her in supply could she have the recipe!
- 2 heaped tbsp light brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 egg white, at room temperature
- 350 grams shelled pecan halves
- 30 ml maple syrup
- Pre heat oven to 150 C, 300 , gas 2
- Line a baking sheet with non stick foil or baking paper.
- Mix together the brown sugar, salt and cayenne pepper.
- Whisk the egg white until frothy.
- Add the pecans, stir until well coated with the egg.
- Add the maple syrup and mix well.
- Add the sugar mixture ensuring all the pecans are well coated.
- Tip onto the prepared baking sheet and spread well. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven, let cool completely before storing.
Autumn has arrived and along with the dark mornings and chill in the air the craving for salads is being replaced by the cravings of more warming, comforting foods. This (in my case) can be dangerous for the hips! Soup however can fill this craving without being too unhealthy.
One of the easiest soups I like to make is Leek and Potato, 6 ingredients all cooked together in one pan then blended. From unpeeled vegetables to soup in about 30 minutes! I like to cook a big batch and freeze the rest, it freezes really well.
Usually I just grab a few potatoes (I rarely know the variety!) and a couple of leeks, it really doesn’t have to be exact, a little more or less of the vegetables shouldnt affect the end result too much. This really is a forgiving soup, the results are always fine regardless of the sizes of the vegetables used. If you prefer more leek than potato, leave a potato out. As a vegetable hater my husband likes this soup to be more potato than leek and smooth rather than lumpy, I’m just happy to have found a soup we can both eat!
Leek and Potato Soup (4 servings)
- 5-6 medium potatoes peeled and chopped into chunks.
- 2 medium leeks washed and cut into rounds.
- 1/2 an onion, peeled and chopped.
- 45 g/1.5 oz butter.
- 750 ml to 1 litre vegetable stock (depending on how thick you prefer your soup).
- 150 ml/ 5 oz milk (or cream if feeling indulgent).
- Salt and Pepper to taste.
- Melt the butter in a large pan. When melted turn the heat to the lowest point.
- Add all of the vegetables, stir to coat with the butter and put the lid on the pan, leave to sweat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
- Simmer until the potatoes are soft.
- Strain off about 250 ml ( 8 oz) of the liquid, reserving.
- Whizz the soup to desired consistency with an immersion blender (or a whizzer as its known in my kitchen!). If it’s too thick add reserved stock to thin.
- Add the milk or cream and season with the salt and pepper.
- Serve warm.
This is the second of my Think you love Beetroot challenge posts, using beetroot in different ways. Once again I was drawn to a recipe on the lovebeetroot.co.uk website, the Tenderstem®, Beetroot & Toasted Seed Salad with Lemon Dressing looked really healthy and tasty and with so few ingredients it fitted in with October Unprocessed which I’m following for the month of October.
I did make a few changes to the original recipe, I couldn’t find Tenderstem broccoli so used Purple Sprouting Broccoli instead, which I happen to love. The soy sauce in their recipe did not fall under my Unprocessed rule so I gave that a miss. When it came to making the dressing I used olive rather than rapeseed oil as I had just bought a nice virgin olive oil that was as unprocessed as I could find. I really enjoyed this salad and although always happy with a lemon/olive oil dressing I will try it again with the soy sauce just to see the difference. I had this for lunch on its own but it would also make a good, healthy dinner side dish served with grilled meat or fish.
Beetroot and Purple Sprouting Broccoli Salad (adapted from this recipe)
- 200 g Purple sprouting broccoli (or Tenderstem) Stems cut in half
- 50 g mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, linseed)
- 250 g plain, cooked beetroot (I used the vacuum packed from lovebeetroot)
- Small bunch of fresh chives chopped finely
For the Dressing
- 2 tbsp Cold Pressed Virgin Olive Oil
- Juice of half a small lemon
- Sea salt and freshly ground Pepper
- Make the dressing by whisking the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper together. Set aside.
- Steam or boil the broccoli until just tender (it needs to be quite firm).
- Toast the seeds by putting into a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes over a medium heat until lightly browned, stir or toss regularly.
- Drain the broccoli and arrange in your dish, drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle with the seeds and chives.
- Serve immediately.