Posted in Food, tagged cheap, cooking, diabetes, diabetic, diet, frugal, lentils, low GI, lunch, meal, money-saving, recipe, rural, Scotland, soup, vegetables, Vicarage on 20 September, 2011 |
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Things in parish have been a bit crazy since the new school term began and my blogging habit has rather dried up. But today I’ve just about got my act together and thought I’d share a great recipe for autumn – my mother-in-law’s lentil soup. The Vicar comes from a small town in the Scottish borders with views over heather clad hills and a high street of family run shops. This warming soup is very inexpensive and simple to make and feels like a little slice of old fashioned rural life. Lentils are especially great for those on low GI diets and for diabetics as they are low in carbohydrates and release their energy slowly.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 or 2 leeks, sliced
- 2 or 3 carrots, sliced
- Other diced vegetables such as swede, butternut squash or potatoes, even leftover veg from Sunday lunch such as mashed potato or runner beans can also be used
- 1 cup (250ml) orange lentils
- Ham stockcube (or genuine ham stock if you’ve cooked a ham recently, but usually I haven’t, or the ham’s been cooked in coke, which isn’t so great in soup)
- Approx 1.5l boiling water
Gently fry the veg until softened, then add the lentils, stock cube and hot water. Simmer for about 20minutes until veggies and lentils are soft. Then use a stick blender to create a smooth soup. If you don’t have a blender, a potato masher will give you a slightly chunkier soup. The Vicar likes to add a lot of pepper – no need for salt because of the ham stock.
Serve with crusty brown bread if you remember to pick some up. This soup is very filling. I often make a double batch, which fills a casserole dish and keeps us going for Vicarage lunches for most of the week. Lentil soup has the strange property of thickening every time it is cooled, so you may have to add a little water on reheating or after freezing. It freezes brilliantly.
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Posted in Food, Garden, tagged cooking, edible, Food, fungi, hunting, mushrooms, Vicarage, wild food on 27 June, 2011 |
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I found an impressive mushroom on our lawn yesterday and was wondering about eating it. I was under the misapprehension that there were only a few types of poisonous ones and it was likely to be fine.
Then I went googling and searching around the internet and it’s a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. So we’ve not eaten it – it’s sitting in my kitchen but I think it will just be going in the compost. I think I’m best to stick to the radishes and salad leaves I planted myself.
Bit of a pity, but best not to poison the family, eh?
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Posted in Food, tagged baking, Cake, crumble, dessert, Food, gooseberries, pudding, recipe, rhubarb, Vicarage kitchen on 20 June, 2011 |
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Last week I had to bake for Cake & Chat and wanted something a little different. I also had a packet of rhubarb that I’d picked up on the reduced section at our local Morrison’s. And so here is a recipe for rhubarb pudding cake (I found the original online at a National Trust historic cakes site).
It went wonderfully with creme fraiche on Thursday and with cream on Sunday. I had to bake a second one this weekend as the first one had disappeared before lunch on Thursday. The leftovers are in the fridge tempting me now.
The recipe involves three separate sections – a cake batter, chopped and sugared rhubarb and a crumble topping. Althought it’s slightly faffier than a bog standard sponge, it’s worth the extra trouble for a delicious dessert cake. The one in the pictures has some gooseberries in it aswell as I didn’t have quite enough rhubarb second time round – they worked very well.
- 1lb rhubarb (or gooseberries, or mix of both), chopped into 1″ pieces and sprinkled with 1-2tbspns brown sugar
- 2oz butter
- 3oz plain flour
- 1oz caster sugar
- 3oz soft marg or butter
- 3oz caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3oz self raising flour
- 1 tbspn milk
Firstly, prepare the rhubarb, chopping it into chunks, or top and tail your gooseberries. Place it in a bowl and sprinkle the brown sugar over the fruit and set aside. Then make the crumble topping, chopping the butter into the flour and rubbing it into small crumbs with your fingers. Then stir in the sugar and set aside. Finally, in another bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar, beat in the eggs and fold in the flour. I do this using an electric hand mixer – there’s not enough mix for my freestanding mixer. Add enough milk to give a dropping consistency – if you’re using large eggs you might not even need the milk.
You’ll need an 8″ cake tin, lined with baking paper (or a reusable liner). Then you layer the cake up – first the batter, then the fruit (with another sprinkling of brown sugar) and finally the crumble topping mix. Bake at 190ºC (Gas 5, Fan 180ºC) for 40-45 minutes until the cake feels firm on top.
This cake is delicious hot or cold and best served with some sort of cream. It would be good with custard too.
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Well, a small one, anyway. Last year we bought some very cheap strawberry plants and stuck them in a flower bed where they failed to produce anything edible. This year, however, they have given us some sweet strawberries – a whole (small) bowlful. And we’ve been able to pick them at peak ripeness. Delicious. Please excuse the shocking lack of focus in the picture. The one I took using the flash made the strawberries look purple.
We also have some small and very sour cherries, about five radishes, a handful of gooseberries, some spindly rhubarb and some snail-chewed bok choi. And there will definitely be potatoes. It’s better than last year, and if our gardening continues to improve at this rate I reckon that we might have a good harvest by the time the Engineer leaves home (he’s six btw).
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Posted in Food, tagged baking, Church, cook book, easy baking, egg free, Food, fundraising, low-fat, malt, malt loaf, milk, recipe, Round Church, Soreen, treacle, Vegan, Vegetarian on 9 June, 2011 |
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The Vicar and I were married at St Andrew the Great in Cambridge. I’d been a member of the church for about eight years when we wed. The year before that the congregation had moved from the Round Church, a beautiful Norman building which had become far too small for the church to meet in. The move cost the church (as I recall) £1.8 million, as the new (to us) building needed extensive refurbishment, having been redundant for 25 years. The congregation gave generously, but there were a few more traditional fundraising efforts. One of these was a Round Church cookbook.
A recipe from the cookbook that I still use regularly is Rosemary Sennit’s malt loaf. It’s great for batch baking – I normally make three loaves at once and quick to put together. It’s egg free and therefore suitable for Asian Vegetarians & Vegans. It’s low fat aswell and I now prefer it to the Soreen option – it’s less strong and squidgy, but still delicious with butter. All brilliant reasons to use this simple and tasty recipe.
- 12oz self raising flour (1lb 8oz for double batch – you can double all the other ingredients easily yourself!)
- 1/2 tspn salt
- 2oz sugar
- 4oz raisins/sultanas or mix of them
- 2 tbspn malt extract (buy it in a health food shop eg Holland and Barrett)
- 1 tbspn black treacle
- 1/2 pt milk
Put the flour and salt in a bowl, adding the sugar and dried fruit and mixing together. Put the malt, treacle and milk into microwave jug. I heat it for 1-2 minutes on maximum heat and then mix it together. You can also do this in a pan over a low heat on the stove. Then pour the liquid into the dry ingredients & mix thoroughly. Pour everything into a well buttered 3lb loaf tin, or one lined with a reusable liner. Or if you double the batch you can make three smaller loaves in 2lb tins – this is what I normally do. Don’t use a paper liner as these will stick (I speak from traumatic experience).
Bake at 180ºC (Gas 4, Fan 170ºC) for 40-45mins or so until firm to touch, and a skewer comes out clean. I’ve found that the cooking time is about the same for both sizes of loaf. The original recipe said to cook a single quantity in a 2lb loaf tin in 75mins, so if you only have that tin size your deeper loaf will take longer – you might want to cover up towards the end of cooking to prevent the dried fruit from burning, though. Turn out and cool on a rack, or you can leave to cool in the tin. Slice and eat with butter (or low fat marg for the health conscious).
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Posted in Food, tagged 4 ingredients, baking, biscuits, cooking, failsafe flapjack, flapjack, Food, frugal cooking, golden syrup, oats, recipe, Snacks, traybakes, treats on 26 May, 2011 |
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I can start with 4 ingredients in the cupboard and have 2 trays of flapjacks ready and out of the oven in less than half an hour. This is a delicious flapjack recipe – my absolute favourite, with a chewy texture and a delicious caramel taste. It’s my go-to recipe for home-made treats in a hurry. I was originally given the recipe by another ordinand’s wife when the Vicar was training for ministry and I must have baked these flapjacks at least 100 times since then without a bad batch. I usually make a double batch as it only takes a couple of minutes more than a single batch and there never seems to be any trouble in disposing of them.
- 150g granulated sugar
- 150g soft margarine
- 4 tbspns golden syrup
- 250g porridge oats
Melt the sugar, margarine and golden syrup together in a large microwave bowl (or in a saucepan on the stove if you don’t have a microwave) – it takes about 2 minutes on full power in my cheapo 750W microwave. To get the golden syrup out of my measuring spoon easily I dip the spoon (a metal one) in a mug of just boiled water before adding each spoonful. Once the sugar, marg and syrup have melted together, mix in the oats. Then pop the mix in a 8″x12″ baking tin, lined with silicone baking paper (or a reusable liner like I use), and flatten it down so that it’s evenly distributed and pop it in the oven.
Your oven needs to be pre-heated to 180ºC (Gas 4, Fan 170ºC). In my fan oven, the flapjack takes 15 minutes to cook, but can take 20-30mins if your oven isn’t as speedy or isn’t quite up to temperature at the beginning. Once it’s golden on top, remove from the oven and leave in the tin for five minutes before cutting into slices sized to your flapjack appetite (generally 21-24 in my experience) and leaving to cool fully in the tin. If you cook it a little longer, it’ll be crunchy rather than chewy, so you can cook differently according to your flapjack preference.
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Posted in Food, tagged baking, coconut, cooking, date, Date and Coconut Chews, dried fruit, easy baking, Food, golden syrup, healthy, low-fat, recipes, sugar, traybakes, treats, Vicarage on 22 February, 2011 |
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Someone asked me recently for a low-fat traybake. Most of my cooking isn’t terribly healthy – I prefer to have a small slice of something delicious rather than a large wedge of something worthy. However, sometimes deliciousness and worthiness can combine, as is the case with these fantastic Date and Coconut Chews.
I was given this recipe by my friend Summer after we spent a very happy day off on a walk with her and her Vicar husband. We took a picnic lunch with us. I brought soup and Summer brought various treats including these. I’m not normally a fan of dates, but these slices are wonderful – chewy and sweet but full of fruit and coconut, which I think cancels out the butter and golden syrup.
- 6oz/170g plain flour
- 3 oz/85g dessicated coconut
- 6oz/170g stoned dates, chopped
- 6oz/170g caster sugar
- 3oz/85g butter (you could use hard marg, but butter is tastier, isn’t it?)
- 2 teaspoonfuls (1 dessertspoonful) golden syrup
- 1 egg, beaten
Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup (I always do this in the microwave, but you can do it on the stove aswell). Stir the dry ingredients together then add the hot butter mixture and the egg. Mix everything well and then spread out in a lined 9″x11″ (23cmx28cm) tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180ºC (Gas 4, Fan 170ºC).
When cooled a little, cut into 24 slices. I did a little maths and reckon that each slice has about 3.5g of fat. This isn’t quite low enough to classify as ‘Low Fat’ in the US , but I think it’ll do.
[Late Edit: A Twitter pal tells me he's tried this recipe using prunes instead of dates and rice flour in the place of plain and that it worked really well. Good for those on a gluten-free diet then.]
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Posted in Food, tagged baking, brownies, chocolate, cocoa, cooking, cup, easy, fast pudding, microwave, mug, pudding, quick dessert, recipe, speedy, sponge on 31 January, 2011 |
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This week we had a quiet Sunday lunch at the Vicarage – it was just our family: Rocky had an invitation to lunch out and I’d been disorganised about having folk over. So for pudding I decided to trial a recipe I saw on 22 Words a while back. It’s a chocolate sponge speedily cooked in a microwave in a mug.
It was a great success with the Vicarage crowd, and two portions served four of us generously (the Engineer was not in a puddingy mood). It would be lovely served with vanilla ice-cream, which was lacking in our freezer so we ate it with lashings of double cream (a half pint between us – eek!).
The recipe was originally titled ’3 minute brownies’ but what you get is more like a hot sponge pudding. Although it takes about 3 minutes in the microwave, total production time was rather longer – a whopping ten minutes for two of them, I reckon. A perfect pause time between courses, actually.
- 4 tablespoons self-raising flour
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 3 tablespoons oil
First, mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa) in your mug. My mug (more an enormous cup, actually) had a capacity of 300ml, and I think this is about the minimum you need. Then break in the egg and add the oil and milk. Mix all together until you have a smooth batter.
Pop it in the microwave on high heat for 3-4 minutes. Mine took 3 1/2 minutes in our 800W basic Matsui machine. The sponge feels pretty wet, but is firm to the touch when cooked. Spoon into a bowl and enjoy with cream or ice-cream.
Next time I might mix up the batter in a jug for ease of stirring (although this would add to the washing up, always an important consideration I feel). And I’d quite like to try experimenting with making a lemon version. I’ll report back on that one. In the meantime, why not try it for pudding this evening?
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Posted in Food, tagged apple juice, cherry coke, cherry jam, Church, cloves, coke, cooking, cranberry juice, Food, gammon, ham, mustard and brown sugar, spiced cranapple, Sunday lunch, treacle, Vicarage on 10 January, 2011 |
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As I munched on yummy leftovers for lunch today, I thought it was time to blog my roast gammon recipe. Although it’s not all roasted – mostly it’s boiled, which ensures that it’s moist, whilst the roasting (with a glaze) sets in a little crisp sweetness. Gammon is an excellent Sunday lunch joint – no waste and wonderful leftovers. And last week, in our local Tescos 2.7kg joints were going for £6! So we had one yesterday and another is in the freezer. The great advantage with gammon is that because it’s great with mashed potatoes, rather than roasted, you can have it mainly cooked before church and eat Sunday lunch at lunchtime rather than midafternoon, as tends to happen with anything involving roasties.
So this recipe is specially adapted for Vicarage dwellers, or anyone wanting to go to church on a Sunday and come back and eat within an hour or so of returning.
A great and speedy Sunday lunch - cherry coke and jam ham
- Gammon joint
- Cherry coke/coke/cranberry juice/apple juice/cider/spiced cranapple to fill pan over the meat (if there’s not quite enough top up with water) but for a 2.2kg joint I normally find 2l is enough
- Cherry jam/treacle/mustard and brown sugar
I usually rinse the joint in cold water – there’s never enough time to soak it or boil it up from cold, I find. Although lately I’ve not even bothered with this rinse. Then I simmer it for 30mins per 500g in something tasty – cherry coke, ordinary coke, cranberry or apple juice, cider or (an excellent discovery tried this Christmas) leftover Spiced cranapple from the carol service. I usually pop an onion in alongside the joint too. Usually on a joint they tell you to cook it for 35mins per 500g plus another 35mins, but since I’m leaving the joint in warm juice during the service, I ignore their instructions.
Then when I get back from church I whack the oven up to 200C (Gas 6) and whilst it’s heating up I put the tatties on and fish the joint out and put it straight onto a roasting dish which I’ve lined with foil. Then I remove the funny plastic holder thing and carve off the top layer from the fatty skin part. I use the knife to make a diamond pattern and stud the criss-cross of each diamond with a clove. Then I cover the clovey fat with a sweet sticky topping. This might be (easiest and peasiest) black cherry jam boiled up a bit to make it stickier, or maybe some black treacle, or some brown sugar and mustard. My top tip for this is to have everything you need to hand before you start – teaspoons, cloves, mustard, sugar or whatever. It’s sticky and it’s better to get it over with quickly.
Then I pop the ham in the oven for only 15-30 minutes. Any longer and the sugary topping begins to burn and weld to the bottom of your roasting dish. So set the pinger to 15mins and check it. I consider it done when the sweet topping is caramelised but before the bottom of the pan is completely scorched.
This is why a foil lining to the dish is a good idea. I just wish I remembered that every time. Otherwise you can get the burns off by adding a sprinkle of dishwasher powder to water and boiling the mixture in your roaster on the hob. Takes off many a cooking stain. Also works on cast iron casserole dishes.
Whilst the ham is cooking, pop your veggies on, yell at the Vicar to come and carve and at the children to stop bickering, check that your guests are comfortable and very soon you’ll be enjoying a warming Sunday lunch. The leftovers of course are delicious. Very popular with Vicarage children in a pasta bake with cheese sauce, spaghetti carbonara, or the new favourite, Spanish gammon hotpot. Or picked at for lunch by the grown-ups.
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