Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Apple cake

We have a new favourite for a quick, easy and tasty tea time treat

This is based on a recipe from the Be-Ro Baking book which is a legendary British baking book in its 40th edition, however theirs is a different fruit and used butterscotch not syrup plus obviously not gluten free.

I've made this twice in the last few days. The first time the apple disappeared into the cake and while it tasted great it didn't look very interesting. This second one I put apple purée behind the apple slices and that helped stop the cake enveloping the apples slices.

The recipe is very simple really. It is made like a Tart Tatin ie put the apple in the bottom of the pan and add the cake on top then turn out to serve upside down. In this case the cake is a basic Victoria sponge mix.

The syrup used can be a simple sugar syrup you make yourself with sugar and water or a bought one. We used some I made a few days ago which was a failed attempted at "compost jelly" from the River Cottage Preserves book. It is a jelly made from apple peelings and orange skins, tastes great but I didn't let it boil long enough and it failed to set so we are using it as a syrup instead.

Apple Cake

Apples - enough to cover the bottom of the tin once sliced - I used 4 smallish ones
Apple puree or apple sauce, a small bowl or jar full. This is optional but helps the slices stay visible
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Syrup
8oz Sugar
8oz Soft marg or butter
4 medium eggs
8oz of flour (Dove Farm GF Plain flour)
2 tsp baking powder

Peel core and slice apples, lay in a pretty pattern over the bottom of a cake tin. Pour over syrup and cover with purée if using. Sprinkle on cinnamon.

Mix flour and baking powder together.
In a bowl cream sugar and marg or butter until pale and fluffy.
Add one egg at a time with a little flour each time, mixing well before adding the next egg.
Add the rest of the flour.
scoop mix over the apples gently spreading it out to completely cover it.

Cook at 180c for 30 mins or till set and slightly browning.

Allow to cool slightly then turn out on a plate. Eat warm with cream or even better with dark chocolate sauce and cream !!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Book review - Gluten-free girl and the chef

I've been rather tardy about posting this one but that is partly because I love it so much I've been wanting to try out more recipes before I post about them but other things keep getting in the way.

When I got a email asking me if I would review this book I jumped at the chance, it was already on my wish list to buy and I have followed Shauna's blog for years back before her and Daniel married and had their wonderful little girl so I knew I'd love the style of writing. Actually I love it even more than I expected. I'm the sort of person who reads cookery books like novels and this one has so much to read! The recipes sound amazing and make you want try them out there and then but there is much more in the book than just recipes. This book is part recipe book, part biography about how Shauna and Daniel live their lives, it is mostly written in Shauna's 'voice' but with occasional additions from Daniel which works really well.

The extra stuff includes lots of tip bits about why you do certain things in recipes, information about ingredients and what it's like being a chef as well as a huge amount of enthusiasm and love of life anyone who reads the blog will know well.

One of the tips I can really relate to is that it is much easier to get a recipe to work if you sort out all the ingredients first, weigh them out and so on, that way you aren't trying to prep the next ingredient while the first stages overcook !  Something I may possibly have done more times than I like to remember. I am determined to get my kitchen better organised so I get ready before I start actually cooking !

So what about the recipes? Well I've tried several recipes from the blog in the past and they have all worked out well so while I haven't tried as many as I'd like as yet I am pretty confident they will be good when I do get to them.

One I did try is Apple and rosemary muffins. I've been doing a lot with apples recently as I have a couple of generous friends with apple trees.

Can I eat them yet?

As you can see I was trying out my new square silicon  muffin cases which I just couldn't pass up when I saw them in Aldi,  I now have 3 dozen silicon muffin or cupcake holders, though one dozen are a little floppy to use on their own.

They were very yummy and one of the reasons I chose them to try was the teff flour. I thought the flour added a lovely depth to them and the rosemary was really good in them too. Next time I will cook them just a little more as they were still a bit to gummy in the middle but that was very much me being impatient not the recipe !

I like that not all their recipes that need flour use a mix with sorghum in, while I totally understand why it is so common in american recipes it isn't a flour we can get a reliably safe version over here at all easily.

We also tried the garlic flans which had Tom considering what changes he might make to take some to the next camping event so I think that counts as a success !

I keep meaning to try the pickled apples too as I love pickled anything! The blue cheese cheesecake with fig crust is on the list, then there is the gluten-free crackers! There are many more including more complicated main course dishes that I plan to try later as well.

You never know I might get the Kindle version too so I can keep the printed one nice and clean ! You can find both versions on Amazon (the link here is for the UK but it's easy to fine on the American one too)

Thanks Shauna and Daniel for an inspiring and uplifting book and may you have many happy years together with your lovely little girl!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Menu - week starting 29th Nov 2010

This week's gluten free menu swap is hosted by Gluten Free Goodness and they picked sweet potatoes as the ingredient of the week. I really like sweet potatoes but they aren't a desperately common veg here as they are too tender to grow in our climate without extra heat, however if I get time I may well pop into the market where there are normally some being sold and sometimes more than one variety of similar root veg as we have a reasonable sized African community here.

I have been very busy recently as I signed up to train as a climate change champion or as it should be called a climate change awareness champion as I have no plans to champion climate change :)  This takes a day out a week plus homework and I'm busy doing all the normal things as well as trying to blitz our house so we can host a big family get together at Christmas.

I also have a new toy!  I have final succumbed to all the good reviews on the various preserving groups I'm on and got an Excalibur dehydrator and it is everything people say! I love it. I'm still in the trying things out stage but I am in awe of those people who run more than one of these things at a time, it takes a lot of prep to fill all 9 trays!  I have done several different types of apples friends have given me and it is interesting to see how the flavours differ both between apples and between the fresh and dried of the same apple. 

The Boys think fruit leathers particular apple/pear or banana are fantastic !

I have also been making a few preserves including one called compost jelly from the River Cottage Preserves book which is made from the peeling and cores of the apples I've dried along with orange skins from oranges I juiced !  Very nice it is as well, though my first batch hasn't set as well as I'd like so I'm trying to decide between using it as a syrup or reboiling to thicken it up !

On to the menu for the week.

Monday - lamb chops, peas, baked potatoes served with garlic egg flans from Gluten Free girl and Chef (watch here for a review later this week)

Tuesday - Class day unless it is called off because of the snow currently falling! So pasta and sauce (nice and simple probably just a pre-made tomato and basil sauce)

Wednesday - Bean casserole.

Thursday - I'm at a low carbon conference all day so again something simple - tomato and eggs

Friday -  Fish pie  (mixed fish and sweetcorn in a while sauce topped with mashed potato and oven baked)                                       
Baking - Thinking of trying a treacle tart but replacing the golden syrup with compost jelly syrup.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Pancake time

Star, giraffe,  treestump, spiral by Tom as well as broken egg and horn by Noddles

A few days ago Tom decided to have a go at some pancakes after I pointed him to the blog Jim's Pancakes.

All of these pancakes are made with a combination of plain batter and one coloured with chocolate milkshake powder !

I think he did pretty well for a first attempt!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Daring Donuts

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

Lori did give us a link to a gluten free donut but having just picked up a bunch of pumpkins from a local farm I decided to just try the pumpkin donut recipe she gave us using Dove Farm's gluten free plain flour mix which is really very good at pretending to be wheat flour particularly in cakey, baking powder raised recipes and they have other mixes for other uses anyway.

Lori found the pumpkin doughnuts are at Bon Appétit.
I have put the recipe at the bottom of this posts as well.
The pumpkin I used was a crown prince I think, it has a grey skin and a very very orange flesh. Really nice flavour when baked which I did before mashing it up for the recipe. We also had pumpkin risotto last night!

Rather than rolling out shapes I made small balls and flattened disks, one big mouthful or a couple of nibbles and there were very nice indeed. I'm going to freeze some of the dough as the recipe does give you a fair size bowl full so we will see how it works after freezing later one. They did crack as they fried hence the slightly strange shapes but that didn't really matter and they tasted good, the spices and pumpkin were evident but subtle and the insides a noticeable rich orangey colour.


Pumpkin Doughnuts:
Preparation time:
Hands on prep time - 15 minutes
Chilling time - 3 hours
Cooking time - 10 minutes
Yield: About 24 doughnuts & 24 doughnut holes
All Purpose Flour 3.5 cup / 840 ml / 490 gm / 17 ¼ oz
Baking Powder 4 teaspoon / 20 ml / 24 gm / .85 oz
Table Salt 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
Cinnamon, ground 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
Ginger, ground ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
Baking Soda ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
Nutmeg, ground ¼ teaspoon / 1.25 ml / 1.5 gm / .05 oz
Cloves, ground 1/8 teaspoon / .6 ml / ¾ gm / .025 oz
White Granulated Sugar 1 cup / 240 ml / 225 gm / 8 oz
Butter, Unsalted 3 Tablespoon / 45 ml / 42 gm / 1.5 oz
Egg, Large 1
Egg Yolk, Large 2
Pure Vanilla Extract 1 teaspoon / 5 ml
Buttermilk ½ cup + 1 Tablespoon / 135 ml /
Pumpkin 1 cup / 240 ml / 285 gm / 10 oz (Canned pure pumpkin or fresh cooked and pureed pumpkin – DON’T use pumpkin pie mix!)
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)

Powdered Sugar Glaze:
(I didn't do this bit)
Powdered (Icing) Sugar 2 cup / 480 ml / 250 gm / 9 oz
Whipping Cream (About 32% butter fat) 4 Tablespoon + more if needed / 60 ml
  1. Whisk together the first 8 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until blended (the mixture will be grainy and not smooth). Beat in egg, then yolks and vanilla. Gradually beat in buttermilk; beat in pumpkin. Using rubber spatula, fold in dry ingredients in 4 additions, blending gently after each addition. Cover with plastic; chill 3 hours.
  2. Sprinkle 2 rimmed baking sheets lightly with flour. Press out 1/3 of dough on floured surface to 1/2- to 2/3-inch (12 mm to 15 mm) thickness. Using 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) -diameter round cutter, cut out dough rounds. Arrange on sheets. Repeat with remaining dough in 2 more batches. Gather dough scraps. Press out dough and cut out more dough rounds until all dough is used.
  3. Using 1-inch (25 mm) diameter round cutter, cut out center of each dough round to make doughnuts and doughnut holes.
  4. Line 2 baking sheets with several layers of paper towels. Pour oil into large deep skillet to depth of 1 1/2 inches (40 mm). Attach deep-fry thermometer and heat oil to 365°F to 370°F (185°C to 188°C). Fry doughnut holes in 2 batches until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Fry doughnuts, 3 or 4 at a time, until golden brown, adjusting heat to maintain temperature, about 1 minute per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Cool completely.

Glaze Directions:

  1. Whisk powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons whipping cream to blend. Whisk in additional cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, to form medium thick glaze.
  2. Can be made up to 3 hours ahead.
  3. Add doughnut holes to bowl of spiced sugar and toss to coat.
  4. Spread doughnuts on 1 side with powdered sugar glaze.
  5. Arrange doughnuts, glazed side up, on racks. Let stand until glaze sets, at least 30 minutes.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Autumn and sunshine

Mixed apple jelly

Autumn is definitely here, the trees are turning fantastic colours and starting to drop leaves in droves which is several weeks earlier than last year when I began to think the leaves would just gradually die on the trees and not give us any show at all ! We had a very wet and prolonged spring this year and so the summer growing season has seems very short. However the last few days have included some really quite hot spells so the sunshine isn't quite over yet !

I hope to use the next few weeks to get the allotment up to speed so come the spring we don't need to be doing lots prep to start planting with our clay soil we need to prepare in advance as it's to sticky to work when very wet!

The slugs eat all the winter brassicas I tried to plant but I have shallots, onions and garlic to put in to replace them and some broad beans and peas which can over winter as well. Plus various things that can be started in the greenhouse and coldframes.

For now though it is a season of using up as many apples as I can get for free ! I don't have apple trees that give me fruit as yet but several people I know do and I also know several places they grow on waste land so I really need to get out and grab some more while they are still available.

I do have some already which we have been eating fresh and I have made lovely apple jelly as you can see in the photo above. I have a few more jars but that was as many as I was risking carry outside so I could show you to glow through them! It is mixed apple jelly because it has four different types of apple in it including the few crab apples from our tree. I basically used all the apples that didn't look like they would last long plus some cooking apples.

This weeks theme from the celiac family blog for the gluten free menu swap is potatoes, something I will definitely use this week. We are still digging them from the allotment though we need to get the last ones up and stored before the ground gets to damp and cold.

So the menu

Monday - As I didn't do it last week. Braised Lamp shoulder with greens and Anya potatoes straight from the ground (very nice they were to)

Tuesday - Not sure Mum is coming to visit so it depends what we end up doing.

Wednesday -Potato bake. Potatoes layered with tomatoes (from our greenhouse) and covered in a egg and milk mix with a little cheese.

Thursday - Rice and Stuff. Basically our version of something similar to fried rice, rice with lots of bits added to it to make a one pot meal.

Friday -Dosas or salmon and veg if I fail to make the Dosa

Baking - Pear and raisin muffins, cheese scones.
Fermenting - I want to have a go at Dosas which includes fermenting the mix first. Make Sauerkraut and start a batch of ginger beer.  Can you tell I've finally got the book Wild Fermentation which I've been considering for ages :)  All these things I was planning to try anyway but it's just that extra push to do so.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

October Unprocessed and this weeks menu.

Carrie over at Ginger Lemon Girl is joining in the October Unprocessed challenge and committing to at least one unprocessed meal a day. The challenge originates from Eating Rules who defined unprocessed as
"Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with readily available, whole-food ingredients."

Which doesn't mean you have to make everything from scratch but that everything you do eat should be possible to make in a home kitchen so no weird chemistry lab ingredients. So I will still buy things like sausage and pasta which I can make but can't be bothered when others can do it better for me!

The original challenge is to eat unprocessed for the whole month, now we don't eat that many processed foods anyway but I'm still not sure I can do none at all for a month or at least I'm not sure my boys would want to however committing to one meal a day seems very possible so that's what I'm going to do as well as taking a good look at what we all eat and if we can cut back on the bad and increase the good.

The other thing I want to concentrate on is different, quick, easy and not to brain taxing things for breakfast. I'm trying to stay away from the pre-made bread I still have a stash of as much as possible and currently cereal isn't appealing but I need something I can make with little enough effort I get round to it before lunch time ! Any suggestions very welcome.

So onto the menu for the week.  This weeks Gluten free menu swap is hosted by Celiacs in the House who has chosen brussels sprouts. These veg get a very split reaction in our house, some of us love them, others hate them. I sit rather in the middle, I don't hate them but I don't go out of my way to get them either. My attempts at growing them failed due to me not getting round to planting the baby plants out.. oh well next year ! We haven't had any in the veg box as yet either so any dishes involving them will have to wait a bit I'm afraid.

Monday - by special request fish and chips ie battered fish and chips, chipshop style, very much made from scratch.

Tuesday - Butternut squash risotto.

Wednesday - Sausage and mash with onion gravy, a good old British classic. The sausages are bought in but made with basic ingredients.

Thursday - pasta bake

Friday  - Braised Lamb shoulder, served with green veg and oven roast root veg.

Baking - cheese biscuits, some muffins for breakfast and lunch boxes
Processing - lots of free apples !  Apple butter, apple jelly (using the few crab apples from our tree and some cookers), dried apple rings and apple beer.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Daring Bakers do iced Sugar cookies

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

She asked us to use a theme of what September means to us.  Well as I said in the last post September is when Noddles has his birthday parties and indeed when my own birthday is so it takes no guessing to work out I made football biscuits.

As well as the normal recipe Mandy gave us a bunch of alternatives and I decided to use the one from Gluten Free Girl. They worked out very well indeed and went down a storm with the small boys who came to the party.

I made two teams of players and a ref as well as a bunch of footballs. Sorry it's so short a post but check out the Daring Kitchen as all the many and wonderful different versions the Daring Bakers made will be up there shortly.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Menu - 20th to 25th Sept 2010 and birthdays

As you will see from the tickertape at the top of my blog Noddles was seven a month ago but over here that is at the same time as the August bank holiday which is one of our main national holidays and we have learnt his friends all tend to be away so we schedule his party for after school gets back. Therefore last weekend we had a football party !

 The cake was iced by Noddles himself with a little help and we have a football game between the girls and the boys with a adult ref ! For those americans in the audience that is real football or what you call soccer :)

For the cake I used this easy vanilla cake from BBC good food and just subbed in a gluten free flour mix, I didn't even add any Xanth gum or similar and it was great. Good texture and quite moist. Has lasted well too though Treestump feels the way to eat it is to lick the icing and jam off it and then try and pass off the actual cake to someone else !

 Blowing out the candles.. which made him jump as the additional ones were sparkler candles but they didn't really get going till he tried to blow them!

Today in contrast is my birthday which I am spending quietly at home waiting impatiently for my Kindle which I have treated myself with to turn up.. trouble is it isn't due to be delivered for a week or so yet which is a down side of buying the new hot product !

Now the next question is do I spend the rest of my birthday money on a dehydrator?

Anyway on to the menu which is late this week.
Oh I should also mention it is British Food fortnight so I may possibly have a few extra traditional British dishes this week such as Chip shop fish and chips and dumplings :)

Monday - boys had chicken dippers, smiley faces and peas, I had Dietary Specials sausage rolls instead of chicken dippers. I know not a great meal but the boys love chicken dippers !

Tuesday -Home made chip shop style Fish and chips cos I love then and it's my birthday :) Again very unhealthy but yar boo to that !

Wednesday - cauliflower cheese (which generally involves more vegs than just cauliflower)

Thursday - Chicken noodle soup

Friday - Nice big veg and bean stew - exact ingredients to be decided later ! Served with dumplings.

Baking - cheese scones and I am really tempted to try and make squashed fly biscuits otherwise known as Garibaldi biscuits.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Weekly menu - 6th Sept - 10th Sept

Beach huts at Hengistbury Head.
Taken on summer holiday.

This weeks Gluten Free Menu swap is being hosted over at Gluten Free Smiles who has chosen peaches as this weeks ingredient. As you will see below we tried a new dish last week using peaches and it was good enough to add to my list of dishes to do again. There are also reasonable priced fresh peaches available currently, possibly not actually cheap but they don't actually grow here or at least not outside walled gardens and the occasional other sheltered private house. If anyone grows them for sale in the UK I've never come across them. As a result they aren't something we eat much fresh but we do treat ourselves to a few punnets over the course of the season or nectarines which in some ways I like even more which we almost always eat straight or cut up with berries and cream. As a result we normally only cook with tinned peaches.

So on to the menu
Firstly what we actually had last week.
Monday  using up leftover mince
Tuesday - Lamb chops
 Wednesday -  Pork with peaches and black bean salsa, serve with rice. Quite liked this would do it again. Many people said they used a full tin of black beans and next time I probably will to.
Thursday - Sausage and potato wedges
Friday - Battered fish and boiled new potatoes from the allotment.  Slightly healthier than chips but spoilt but using the remaining batter to do battered mushrooms later that evening !

Rather more meat on there than I like to plan so this week is going to try and balance that out.

Monday - Beef stew (OK the balancing comes later in the week the beef needs using up I am actually planning to cook that Sunday night to eat Monday)

Tuesday - Potato bake (potatoes, egg, milk, onion, possibly a bit of bacon baked in the oven) served with greens.

Wednesday - Salmon stir-fry with noodles

Thursday - Tomato and eggs.

Friday - out and about all day so it will be a grab and run day. I will try and bake some easy to eat bits and pieces in advance.

Baking - cheese biscuits, apple muffins, banana bread.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Dinosaurs ate my tomatoes !

Exhibit one - the tomatoes.

As you can see there are clearly teeth marks on a couple of them. So Treestump who was hovering suspiciously around them was asked. "Are those your teeth marks in the tomatoes?"

Answer " No not my teethmarks !  Dinosaurs !!! "
So there you have it must be true my two and a half year old says so Dinosaurs ate my tomatoes !!

In more likely news I am ridiculously pleased with my baby parsnips which we will have roasted for tea possibly drizzed with honey. Why? Because they are the thinnings from the allotment and I have a good bunch more nicely growing bigger for later in the year. Parsnips are often difficult to get to grown and I have failed on many things growing wise but potatoes and parsnips it seems I can do !

Baby 'Snips, still muddy from the ground.
Also I have a lovely present from a friend.

A purple knife ! What could be better? Cuts nicely too and the cover fits very tightly meaning it could be taken camping and be both safe and unlikely to get it's edge ruined.

Monday, 30 August 2010

The Great British Bake Off

I don't normally post about TV cooking programs after all we have so many these days but I am really enjoying the Great British Bake Off. It is so well... British !  Baking is such a part of our culture and this program somehow has an element of the WI (women's institute) or country shows. I'm not sure why because neither of them normally have people actually doing the cooking but they do both have very good and competitive cake displays and competitions I suppose. One thing I'm very like about this program is they are much more reasonable and down to earth about giving out results, none of these long pauses and trying to out psych the contestants which has become to common in many competitive cooking programs.

You can find the program to watch here though I don't know if none Brits will be able to access the shows . I hope you can.

The program started with ten hopeful bakers from all walks of life and each program they do three baking sessions before the lowest ranked two are knocked out. We have had two episodes so far in both they have started with a signature dish ( week 1 cake, week 2 biscuits.. cookie for americans), then they have been given the ingredients but not instructions for a very classic British dish which they then needed to use their knowledge and skill to bake it correctly. Victoria sponge last week, then this week scones, both of which are in my image at the top.. Finally they had to bake a specific dish but using their own recipes.. so week 1 was chocolate cake for a celebration and this week was three petifores - meringues, macaroons and cho pasty.

There has been a huge variety of dishes even within those limited groupings and a good few historical titbits from the presenters and useful tips from the two judges. Mary Berry is a women famous for her cookbooks and baking and Paul Hollywood is a top flight baker and both have given some great tips for instance adding a little salt to egg before you use it as an egg wash as it breaks down the egg making it easier to spread and don't let it dribble down the side of a scone because it hardens and stops it rising.

Obviously most of the baking has gluten in it and I think anyone however good would struggle to compete with the contestants on most of the challenges if they did it gluten free but it would be fun to try and see how close we could get to most of them.

Next week is bread, which will be interesting but far less applicable to gluten  free cooking than cakes and biscuits as gluten free bread is just so different in technique and how the flour reacts.

So far I am planning to make a version of one of the cakes - chocolate brownie with meringue on top and see if I can use some of the tips on scones to improve my basic scone recipe. Some of the biscuit recipes sound really interesting too and the comments about how changing the balance between flour, fat and sugar effects the type of biscuit is worth remembering.

Weekly menu -30th Aug - 3rd Sept 2010

With luck my run of illness has finished and all  of a sudden we are nearly at the end of the school holidays !  I'm going to make a concerted effort to get back into some semblance of organisation and menu planning very much helps with that so here goes.

Cheryl from Gluten Free Goodness is hosting the menu swap this week and has picked water melon. This isn't something that we eat much of as it doesn't really grow here but when we do get one it always goes down well.

So the plan this week is as follows, it is most quite easy and very British dishes this week. The weather is not brilliant of this time of year and as the evenings get darker I naturally turn to such dishes.

Monday (a Bank Holiday here) - using up leftover mince, probably served simply with new potatoes straight from the allotment and some other veg.

Tuesday - battered fish and chips.. I haven't had battered fish for ages and fish and chips is a British past-time but I can't go to the fish and chip shop like most people.

Wednesday - Trying this recipe for Pork with peaches and black bean salsa, serve with rice.

Thursday -  Veggy soup with cheese scones

Friday - Toad in the hole - sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Book Review - The Fat Duck Cookbook

As I mentioned I've not been to well recently and so have ended up sitting far more than I would like. However that has meant I've had a chance to catch up on some "light" reading.

I think I mentioned back along I got a couple of books by

Escoffier did when I was a teen. That book opened up a whole new way of looking at food for me use as I was to good but traditional English cooking. Escoffier was full of dishes with sauces, a million ways to cook a chicken breast, ingredients I had never heard of and things which seemed posh and exotic to me then and made me think about other ways of cooking.

Heston opens up similar ideas and goes one step farther because Heston is all about Why.. And that is what I always want to know Why should I do this? Why does X taste good with Y but dreadful with Z? and so on.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Sorry for being AWOL

Not been much in the interesting food recently because I've had several weeks of what feels like reaction to gluten but i can't work out what from. This obviously means I've been rather safe and boring with my diet and one of the effects is very little energy. Then to top it all off I've had a bad case of Tonsillitis so no food at all for a good section of this last week !!  I hope normal service will resume currently but at the moment I'm not even managing Daring Kitchen Challenges.

Friday, 16 July 2010

I'm late. I'm late !!! - Daring cooks do Nut Butters

Opps missed the reveal date for Daring Cooks this month. Sorry!!

Better late than never I hope.

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

Margie and Natashya challenged us to make some more un-usual nut butters and use them to cook. I loved the idea and planned to do more than  did but then ended up clearing out the freezer which limited what I was cooking rather. I will however be making more of my own nut butters from now on as it's is very easy and one of my boys quite likes the flavour of nuts but hates the texture so this is a great way to get more into his diet! With school holidays coming up I can see lots of nut flavoured cakes and things on the horizon. I have also just got a grain mill so am hoping to do a whole bunch of flours to try as well !

Anyway to the challenge recipe I tried one of the our hosts they gave us which was Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew (or Peanut) Dressing the recipe for which at the end of the post. I managed to fail slightly in that I had no ginger when I came to make the sauce.. something I always have in the fridge ! But even without the ginger it was still really nice.

I really liked how simple it was to make and it reminded me to do more dishes with uncooked vegetables which is a good thing. I didn't have any shrimp so I cooked some bacon till crispy and used that. The vegs we had were carrot, cucumber, tomato and mushroom along with some cress for garnish which worked very well with the sauce.

The Cashews made a great change from peanut which is the only nut I'd normally think to use in such things and I will definetly do using more different nuts in future.

Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew (or Peanut) Dressing
Yield: 4 servings
Recipe notes: Customize the salad by adding or substituting your favorite vegetables. Shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, and slivered carrots would make nice additions. Obviously, you can omit the shrimp, or substitute chicken or tofu or the protein of your choice. The dressing is equally as good with peanut butter rather than cashew butter. We tested the dressing with nut butters made from salted cashews & peanuts with good results.
Cashew Butter:
1 cup (240 ml) cashews*
Cashew Dressing:
½ inch (1 cm) slice of fresh ginger, chopped
8 cloves garlic, more or less to taste, chopped
½ cup (120 ml) cashew butter
¼ cup (60 ml) soy sauce
3 Tablespoons (45 ml) sugar
3 Tablespoons (45 ml) vinegar
3 Tablespoons (45 ml) toasted sesame oil
¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon (75 ml) water
Hot sauce to taste (optional)
Noodle Salad:
1/2 pound (225 g) linguine or thin rice noodles
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1/2 pound (225 g) small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large red bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into thin strips
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, sliced
1/4 cup (60 ml) sliced green onions
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped cashews (optional garnish)
Lime wedges (optional)
  1. Make cashew butter: Grind cashews in food processor for about 2 minutes until smooth. (*Or start with ½ cup (120 ml) prepared cashew butter.)
  2. Prepare cashew dressing: Combine ginger, garlic, cashew butter, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, and water in food processor or blender. Process/blend until smooth. Be sure to process long enough to puree the ginger and garlic. The dressing should be pourable, about the same thickness as cream. Adjust consistency – thinner or thicker -- to your liking by adding more water or cashew butter. Taste and add your favorite hot sauce if desired. (If the cashew butter was unsalted, you may want to add salt to taste.) Makes about 1 ½ cups (360 ml) dressing. Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator.
  3. Prepare noodles according to package instructions in salted water. Rinse and drain noodles. Set aside.
  4. Heat oil in large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add shrimp to the pan and sauté for about 3 to 4 minutes or until opaque throughout. Alternately, cook shrimp in boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes or until done.
  5. Slice basil into thin ribbons. Combine noodles, bell pepper, cucumber, onions, and basil in a large bowl. Add about ½ cup (120 ml) cashew dressing; toss gently to coat. Add more cashew dressing as desired, using as much or as little as you’d like. Scatter shrimp on top. Squeeze fresh lime juice over salad or serve with lime wedges. Sprinkle with chopped cashews if desired.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Weekly menu - 29th June 2010

 We are still trying to use up the contents of the freezer and the weather here in the UK has been pretty warm so to much cooking has not been high on the agenda. I have a big stash of gluten free bread rolls I got cheap so have been to a large extent been living on salad sandwiches with lots of mustard and cress which I have a really like of currently. I'm waiting on a bunch of seeds to turn up so I can try a whole range of micro salad which is really just the same as mustard and cress just different plants, basically sprouts allowed to grow so they have leaves as well.

This weeks ingredient for the gluten free menu swap was picked by Celiacs in the House and is cabbage. I must admit we mostly eat cabbage in the winter but I do like it cut up thin and fried with a bit of sugar in other words what Chinese takeaways here call crispy fried seaweed ! The recipe she has posted sounds very good as well and I may have to try more things like stuffed cabbage it sounds like a good plan to me.


Monday - roast chicken with boiled new potatoes direct from the allotment (the potatoes not the chicken, we haven't started keeping chickens yet though I would like to.)

Tuesday - Rice or pasta with chicken from Monday.

Wednesday - Hotdog sausages stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon served with creamed savoy cabbage from the IKEA a recipe a day cook book.

Thursday -see what is left to eat up and base something on that.

Friday - Tomato and Eggs.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Daring Bakers do Chocolate Pavlova

The June 2010 Daring Baker's challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

This recipe is gluten free without any adaptions which is a really nice change from most Daring Bakers recipes. However Audax explained to us the difference between the recipe we were given and a traditional Australian Pavlova and his description of the meringue made me very much want to try his version. I have had pavlova a good few times, after all it can be the only dessert I can have at many places.. well that or icecream, however they are nearly always with fairly crispy meringue not the sort he described. The challenge recipe was much more like the ones I'm used to so I decided to use his way of doing it to see the difference. Audax said "Aussie pavlova has a very thin crust that is dry and crisp while the inside is soft and chewy like the lightest marshmallow you have tasted."  The difference is mainly in the cooking method.

I made my meringues as individual portions using the sort of rings you use to shape rosties and so forth, like a big biscuit cutter though the pudding is so rich we ended up sharing one ! I didn't make the pouring sauce to go with it, well I started and made the custard a few days ago but then hot weather and grumpy kids meant I didn't get round to the rest and it went off :(  We are having very hot sapping weather currently, well for us anyway I know from some places it would just be average but us Brits don't do heat !

I really liked the soft middle of the meringue and will certainly consider doing them again like this rather than the crisp meringue I'm more used to so thanks Audax for showing us the difference.. see his post for a look at what the inside of a big Aussie Pavlova looks like it's so different to a standard meringue !

The mousse is fabulously rich and I still have lots in the fridge so do be aware the recipe below makes quite a lot. I don't believe it is possible to have to much chocolate mousse but if you only want enough to top a 3 egg pavlova you might want to cut the recipe in half!

Recipe - Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

Choc meringue
Instructions are mostly Audax's adapted to make it chocolate as per the challenge recipe.
To get crisp meringues as per the original recipe cook at 200º F (95º C) degrees for 2-3 hours and leave out the cornflour and cream of tartar.

3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons cornflour (corn starch)

Preheat oven to 200°C (395°F). Dust lightly with 1/2 teaspoon cornflour a sheet of baking paper place on a baking tray. Place a 8” (20cm) x 2.5" (60mm) springform cake tin without a bottom as a container to hold the whipped egg whites on the floured baking paper (This size form is for 6 egg whites so you would need a smaller one for the 3 egg whites this recipe is for. I use three smaller rings to get individual ones.)

2. Using an electric mixer on the highest setting, beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a narrow deep bowl until soft peaks form (using a narrow deep bowl ensures the beaters are well into the whites and will build up the greatest volume). Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly until thick and glossy. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of cornflour with the last tablespoon of sugar. Dissolving the caster sugar should take about 10-12 mins if using normal granulated sugar about 15 mins. (Test mixture by feeling a small amount of the meringue between two fingers if it is grainy beat longer.)

2a) To make chocolate meringue - Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)

3. Spoon meringue into the springform cake tin. Shape the uncooked meringue using the springform cake tin as a guide into one giant meringue. Remove the springform cake tin and place the uncooked meringue cake into the oven. Reduce oven to 100°C (212°F). Bake for 1½ to 2 hours or until dry and crisp, test by tasting a teaspoon of the meringue from the top if it doesn't taste of egg it is done don't worry about the small hole made by this testing it will be covered by the topping. Test at 1½ hours and then every 15 mins until ready. Turn off oven and cool completely in oven (pavlova may sink and crack during cooling). 
I used smaller rings and they were done in 1 hour.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse  1 ½ cups (355 mls) double cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
9 ounces (255 grams) 72% chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice) (I didn't use this as I was feeding it to small people)

  1. Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.
  2. Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)
  3. Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.
For the pouring sauce follow the link to see more Daring Bakers !

Monday, 21 June 2010

Weekly menu swap starting again

 A small but very fragrant posy from the allotment

It's been ages since I posted a weekly menu or participated in the Gluten Free Menu swap and while our food planning is better than it was I have noticed we are slipping a bit again on using things up at the right time and so on and so I am going to start again !

This weeks host is Gluten Free Goodness and she picked raspberries which we love. The ones on the allotment are just starting to colour so we might have a few this week if we get them before the birds or finally finish the fruit cage so we can cover them properly! It is very nearly done now.

I'm working through our freezer at the moment to clear it out so a) we eat the things that we never get round to and b) it can have a proper clean, these things need doing every now and then after all.
As a result the menu is based mostly on that and rather more meat based than I would normally do  as I try to do several vegetarian or very meal light meals every week but most of what we have left in the freezer to eat is meat now.

Monday - Pasta and mince

Tuesday - Omelets

Wednesday - Beef stew

Thursday - Fish pie

Friday - Roast Chicken with vegetable terrine

Monday, 14 June 2010

Daring Cooks - pate

I only seem to be doing posts for Daring bakers and cooks currently. I am going to try and get back into other posts I've just been busy so on the computer less and off actually doing things more which can't be a bad thing really.

So on to the challenge !

Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

The various recipes covered most options and we love pate here so I was determined to try at least one. The vegetarian version I've made before and in fact made several to help cater an event late last year so I decided to make the Three Spice Liver Pâté: adapted from Ravenous Couple, which was inspired by White on Rice Couple.

I will copy the recipe below and like most pates it is really very simple to make.  I did make one or two adaptations. We dislike totally smooth pates so I kept back some of the pork belly and added it towards then end so it was roughly chopped not pureed smooth like the rest of the mix. The second adaptation was a mistake ! I totally forgot to add the egg but honestly it was great without it and still held together well which is very useful to know as we have a friend who can't have egg.

 I cooked the pate in several tiny loaf tins which made very good individual portions and I must admit we just eat the bacon with the pate.. never did get this whole discard the bacon lark it's the best bit.!

A tiny loaf tin with sewing thread as a size gauge !

The pate was really good and definitely a recipe to go in the keep file. I'm really sorry I didn't do a bread. I did have a plan of what to do but then we had a freezer incident and had to cook up and eat a lot of things all at once and that rather threw all my plans out. The pate got made mostly because i had just bought the liver when we realised there was a problem, instead I served it with salad, and home made chutney which was lovely.

our coarse version -cos we prefer it this way

Three Spice Liver Pâté
Yields one 25 by 12,5 cm (10 by 5 inch) terrine or loaf pan
1 lb / 454 grams pork liver (or beef or combination)
1/2 lb / 227 grams ground pork
1/2 lb / 227 grams pork fat (or pork belly)
2 cloves garlic
2 shallots
1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp / 2 ml cinnamon
1/2 tsp / 2 ml coriander (ground or crushed)
1/2 tsp / 2 ml cumin
3/4 tsp / 3 ml salt
1 tbps / 15 ml coarse freshly cracked peppercorns
2 tbps / 30 ml cognac
2 bay leaves
1 package of bacon

Preheat oven to to 350ºF (180ºC).
Cut liver and pork fat into small pieces and add to food processor. Add ground pork, garlic, shallots, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Grind until smooth.
In mixing bowl, incorporate the meat and liver mixture with the cognac and eggs.
Line bottom of baking or ceramic pan with overlapping pieces of bacon. Place a bay leaf on the bottom and then fill with meat/liver mixture. Cover top with another bay leaf and then overlapping pieces of bacon.
Place in oven in the larger baking pan and add enough water to cover 2/3rds of the pan containing the meat/liver mixture. Bake for about 1-1.5 hrs.
The pâté will contract and the juices will be on the bottom. Allow to cool and soak up the juices. Remove any excess bacon and discard the bay leaves.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Daring Cooks do Stacked Enchiladas

 Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on www.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh. 

Mexican food is something I love the sound of but can find very little of here, which is strange in a way as we have nearly every other cuisine under the sun!  Coventry is a hugely ethnicly diverse city and within just our little block of streets there must be 20 languages spoken and a similar number at my son's school. We have shops selling Chinese, Indian, South African, Caribbean, Halal, Polish, Thai and so on and that's just in our little local set of shops never mind the rest of the city but pretty much the sum total of Mexican inspired foods is the use of tortillas to make wraps, tacos shells, the occasional tin of refried beans and salsa.

I make Tortillas quite often, so often I have the mix pre-made in a jar, as they are a great easy bread to make and I can use them like nan breads with Indian and to make wraps for sandwiches and so forth so that part was easy.

I use the tortilla recipe from Delightfully Gluten Free but I add just a dribble of glycerine as I find it helps with the stretch of the dough and I can get them thinner without breaking.

So first stage done.. mini tortillas, cut out with a biscuit cutter so they are about 4" wide and I added poppy seeds just because it sounded fun! By making them small I could get four stacks in my dish to go in the oven.

I looked all over and the only place I could find tomatillos was in quite large tins by mail order and if we didn't like them I'd end up with a lot left over so very reluctantly I decided I would have to do a different version. I will of course probably find six different places selling them after the challenge is over, that's always the way isn't it?

I decided instead to do the mole sauce from here which the hosts had suggested as a replacement, as we have never had a mole sauce before either  it was still a challenge, particularly as the list of ingredients sounded very strange, chocolate and peanut butter with tomatoes? Still I had everything but the chillies. We have lots of chillies for sale here in the market and ethnic shops but this recipe calls for chipotle peppers which are apparently smoked and I really though I was out of luck on that one as well but at the last moment found some in Morrisons !

It's really nice to, I've very glad I had an excuse to pick that jar up as I think I will use it in other dishes too. So all ingredients acquired I set to making the sauce, which was really very easy and smelt really interesting, here it is bubbling away before I blitzed it smooth!

Tom and I really liked the taste though Jon wasn't so convinced, we decided the closest we have had before would be a satay sauce.
So on to the construction of the dish, to the sauce and tortillas I added some precooked turkey and cheddar cheese and layered it up in stages, very like making a lasagne really which is what that dish is more normally used for in this household.

So after a couple of layers of tortillas, turkey, sauce and cheese, it was topped with more torillas, sauce and a bit of cheese and put in the oven.. for a bit to long really so mine is less pretty than most of the other Daring Cooks but I caught it before it really burned! 

So here is the final dish, served with rice, very tasty and something I will certainly be considering doing again soon in one form or another. I loved the different taste of the mole sauce but the dish as a whole wasn't so un-usual I couldn't see serving it to friends or family which is nice.


GF Flour Tortillas (based on a recipe from Delightfully Gluten free)

1/4 cup each of cornflour (corn starch), tapioca flour, potato starch.
1/2 cup of Dove farm rice flour (which is mixed brown and white)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp glycerine
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup of water (enough to make a nice dough)

Mix all the dry ingredients, then add the oil and glycerine. Finally add water to mix. Leave to sit for a few minutes then roll out as thin as possible by making small balls of dough, flattening them then rolling to size.
Cook in a dry pan with just a touch of oil for a minute or so each side.

Mole sauce (based on recipe from food network)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tin of chopped tomatoes.
1 sweet pepper, chopped
heaped tsp of chipolte pepper
1/2 pint chicken stock
2 tbsps smooth peanut butter
2 oz dark chocolate

The original recipe had chilli powder as well but as most of us are not used to chilli I stuck to just the chipolte peppers for the first time which gave it a bit of a kick but not too strong for us.

Saute onion in oil till translucent, add garlic and spices and saute to toast spices a bit. Add all other ingredients and simmer of 10 mins, Puree till smooth.

Stacked Enchiladas
Put a small amount of sauce in the bottom of a oven dish. Add a layer of tortillas, top with turkey, cheese and a little more sauce. Repeat this layer then add a final layer of tortillas, more sauce and some cheese.

Bake for about 20 mins to melt cheese and heat through.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Hosting Daring Bakers - British Suet Puddings.

This month has been a very interesting one. I offered a while ago to host Daring Bakers and was given a slot in the summer and then a couple of days before the beginning of this month I got an email, please would I consider doing this month instead? I had an idea of what I wanted to do so all though I hadn't done the prep for it so I said yes and so at the last minute I threw together a challenge post.

This is the blog checking line (for the automatic checking to see if we joined in this month) seems a tad silly when I hosted but just bear with me!!
The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

So there you have it I challenged everyone to make British puddings, preferably using suet. I knew when I set the challenge most people outside Britain wouldn't have used suet, although it is theoretically available anywhere that eats cows or sheet most countries seem to use it only as bird food but here in the UK we have a long history of using every bit if the animal we can. What I didn't realise was how new the idea of steaming a cake or pie would be for the vast majority of Daring Bakers. If I had I would have down played the suet and focused more on the steaming as I put a few people off with the animal fat thing.. However many did try the challenge including many who do not eat animal fat and indeed some of the most fabulous sounding puddings were vegan or vegetarian.

I have included the challenge post as it went up on the Daring Bakers site at the end of this post.
Please do check out the Daring Kitchen site in a day or so when you will be able to see the whole range of puddings and indeed you can check the various blog postings via the blog roll there. Particular mention must go to Audax who is always does multiple versions of the challenge recipe but this time excelled himself and did 16 different versions!!  Plus all of them looked fantastic unlike some of my attempts and he was very complimentary and surprised by some of our traditional dishes.

Even though steamed puddings are a common dish for me I learnt an few things from hosting this challenge.
1) Steam a suet crust pudding like steak and kidney for 5 hours and it becomes golden brown, flaky pastry which is much better than the slightly under done stodgy stuff people sometimes serve.
2) Suet crust works really well on baked pies and is one of the best gltuen free pie crusts I've tried so far.
3) Add some glycerine to it which helps it stay together and it makes a great sausage roll pastry.
4) Because suet melts at such a low temperature it incorporates into the other ingredients very well and you don't get that fatty taste you get with other animal fats and indeed veggy substitutes when it's cold.
5) Most cultures don't steam anything other than the occasional veg !
6) Always butter the dish if you want any chance of turning the pudding out!

Anyway as I didn't have time in advance to make any versions of the recipe here are a few random ones I did over the month.. Well actually the first one was done in advance, several months in advance as it is the last of the Christmas puds I made a month or so before Christmas but properly made Christmas puds last months.

Served with Cream AND Custard :)

I also made a streamed chocolate sponge but forgot to butter the dish so it fell apart so there is no picture of the whole pudding, however it was very tasty with choclate fudge sauce!

 I tried and failed with a Sussex Pond pudding, I think I managed to misread the ingredients of something as others made much better ones, my however seemed to have lost all the moisture inside so there was no source.

A boiled version next because while I've done many steamed ones I don't think I've ever done the boiled in a cloth method.
Now this is NOT a method to use to get a pretty dish to be honest so please forgive the look of the final pudding, Audax has already given us a much better looking one. You will get a better looking dish if you steam it I promise! However I wanted to try a savory rolly polly and you generally boil them plus as I said I've not done a boiled one and was curious to see the difference.
So firstly the pastry, this is the standard suet crust, twice as much flour as suet, this one is a veg suet as I had some left over and had it out to take a photo for the main challenge post.
Not much to say really.. it's white, it's doughy, what else are you going to get with flour and fat really! I used a bought gluten free flour mix but honestly it would be able to same with normal flour. I've added a photo to the challenge post of the pastry.
The most common rolly polly is a jam one.. but i did a bacon and onion one because I wanted a main course pudding not a pudding pudding!.
Roll out pastry, cover with filling.

Roll into a log, squish ends to keep filling in. Wrap in greaseproof paper, then wrap in a floured cloth, in my case an old muslin square. Tie up with string, not to tightly cos it swells up a bit.

Then put it in to boil for an hour and a half, covered with a lid.

This is what it looked like once i unrolled it.. I rather failed on getting it out of the water and cracked the pastry.. steamed ones being in a bowl are less likly to just fall to bits!

and finally plated up.. Boiled pastry stays much whiter and obviously a bit damper than the steamed versions but it was very tasty..really a huge boiled stuffed dumpling and we all like dumplings too. Very filling too however as I said it isn't going to win and beauty prize.

I also did a suet crest on a great chicken, bacon and mushroom pie.

This time it was baked and honestly I can say it is one of the best pie crusts I've had. It works very well gluten free and with a bit of glycerine added to stablise the pastry when raw it makes great sauasge rolls !

Finally the one at the start of the post is a golden syrup sponge but I cheated on that one as it was in fact microwaved !  We normally steam such puddings but when people want pudding now not in an hour and a half microwaving works really well at least for basic sponge puddings !

(Editted to add - Microwaving takes 3-4 mins depending on your power level. I did 3 mins at 1000, the recipe said 4 mins on full but the age of the book means that would probably translate to about 600, maybe 800 )

The Original Challenge post
The challenge I would like to set you this month is to try a very British dish and a very British ingredient.

The actual recipes (I am giving you a choice) are pretty simple really but the cooking method and the core ingredient are something that many people do not use or do on a regular basis if at all.

Those of you who know me might be surprised that as one of the early Alternative Daring Bakers I’m not doing a gluten-free recipe but we have just had one of those and I wanted to do a traditional British pudding and honestly a gluten-free traditional British pudding is a rare beast but the type I have chosen are very easy to convert.

These are very homely dishes but I thought that would be an interesting contrast to some of the very decorative dishes we often do and I am sure some of our members will still make them look spectacular!

Some of you will know about the British and the word pudding but for those that don't we use the word for many things:

1) Black pudding and white pudding a sort of meat and grain sausage.  Black pudding uses blood as well as meat.
2) Pudding — a generic word for desert
3) Pudding — any dish cooked in a pudding bowl or pudding cloth normally steamed, boiled but sometimes baked.
4) An endearment i.e., "How are you today my pudding?"

For this challenge we are using the third meaning a dish cooked in a pudding bowl or cloth, though many of you may opt to do a sweet version in which case version two also applies!

The special ingredient is suet. Please, please don't worry if you can't get it. I will be suggesting alternatives but if you want to stretch yourselves and try some very traditional British dishes do try and source some as it does make a difference to the texture and Daring Bakers is all about trying things you wouldn't normal do or use. Please remember there are alternatives so please don’t worry if you can’t get or don’t want to use suet !

So what is suet?

It is the hard but flaky fat found on the inside of a cow or sheep around the kidneys and that area of the body. Suet in its raw form crumbles easily into small chunks so much so that my butcher says it covers his floor in bits if he doesn't have it taken out as soon as possible. In fact unless he knows he has a customer for it he has the abattoir take it out and throw it away and when I want some he gives it to me for free! It also melts at quite a low temperature, which has an effect on how it works in cooking. In some places such as the UK it is sold processed which basically means it is grated and combined with flour to keep the individual pieces from clumping together, and it becomes a sort of dried out short strands, almost granular in texture.

For people on a gluten-free diet like myself be careful as most if not all the processed stuff uses wheat flour, though the vegetarian version normally uses rice flour. As I said I get mine direct from the butcher and I suggest if you want to try this challenge fully you go down to your local butcher and ask them if they can source some for you. If they can it will not be expensive as it is just fat and they might even give it you for free!.

For those going “Yuck! Fat from the inside of an animal … no thank you!”, I have some good news. There is a vegetable suet available here and indeed anyone can substitute a hard, white vegetable fat. Wikipedia says the UK vegetable suet is made from palm oil so something of that ilk would work. I am led to believe a vegetable shortening, like Crisco will give you a similar effect. So please feel free to use whatever you feel most comfortable with or can get. Lard is also a possibility. Ideally steer clear of things like butter or soft margarine as you will get a very different texture and taste however if you are not comfortable using any of the fats I've suggested I am providing some links to recipes using butter right at the bottom (and one vegan) but read all the tips before that anyway You could even try substituting something like Coconut oil if you wish but in both these cases try a sponge pudding first as they are more tolerant of such changes.

However, back to the real stuff assuming you feel happy to use it. If you manage to get some from the butcher you will end up with something very much like this.
 The packet stuff looks like this both the meat and veggy versions which is probably easier for most people to deal with if you can get it.
However if you are going the whole hog and trying the fresh stuff then the fat then needs separating from the membrane that holds it loosely together. Personally I normally just pull it apart with my hands and crumble the fat off the membrane but if you wish to make sure you completely remove everything except the pure fat you need to render it.

To render the fat, chop or grate it up and put in a pan. Then you slowly heat it over a low flame until it is completely melted. Carefully, because hot fat is very much not something you want to get on your skin, pour it into a sieve lined with cheesecloth to remove all the little bits of membrane and such like from the pure fat. If it still has bits in reheat until liquid and restrain.

So once you have your suet or suet substitute, what are we going to make with it? The answer to that is of course suet pudding. However I am giving you not one but two forms of suet pudding and both can be either savory or sweet so you have lots of options to play about with the idea.

The two basic types are a suet crust pudding with a filling or a suet sponge pudding. Examples of a pudding with a crust are a steak and kidney pudding or a Sussex pond pudding and examples of the sponge pudding are spotted dick, Christmas pudding and college pudding.

Both types are traditionally steamed in a pudding basin for at least an hour and this is a technique I know some people rarely, if ever, use. However it is very simple and can be done with the simplest of equipment. All you really need is a reasonable size saucepan with a lid, ideally with a heat proof plate or a steamer rack to go in the bottom of the pan and heat proof bowl or similar container to cook the pudding in. You can even go more basic than that and wrap the pudding in a cloth and hang it in the pot of water to boil!

Other uses for suet include dumplings for stew, making mincemeat for mince-pies, mixing with seeds to make fat balls for birds and as an extremely high calorie survival food for extreme environments such as arctic expeditions.

So the required elements of this challenge are:

1) to make a suet pudding using real suet or as close a replacement as you can manage or is acceptable to you; and
2) to cook it by steaming or if you want to be even more traditional by boiling tied up in a cloth.

Due to the short amount of time I ended up having to get this challenge together I have not tried out all the recipes recently, however they are all ones I have either used in the past or from sources I know to be extremely good for these sort of recipes.

Recipe Source:  Recipes come from the following sources: Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course, The pudding club (www.puddingclub.com),  Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management and the Dairy Book of Home Cooking and my family’s recipe notes!

Blog-checking lines:  The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient:  suet. 

Posting Date:  April 27, 2010

Notes:  Fresh suet should be kept in the fridge or do what I do and freeze it. I crumble off what I want as I go straight from the freezer. The boxed stuff can live in the cupboard.

The easiest way to steam a pudding is in a dedicated steamer as the water is kept away from the pudding so it can’t boil over. If, however, you don’t have a steamer use a pan large enough to easily fit the bowl you are cooking. Don’t fill the water more than about a third of the way up the bowl or it may boil over and into the bowl. Keep an eye and top up as needed with boiling water.

You need to lift the bowl off the bottom of the pan. This can be done with a steamer stand, an upturned plate or even crumpled up kitchen foil — anything that can stand being in boiling water and lifts the bowl off the bottom of the pan will work.

Make sure you have a well-fitted lid on the pan as you want the steam to cook the pudding not to boil off.

Make sure you put a pleat in the foil or paper you cover the bowl with to allow for expansion and then tie down tightly with string.

This is a bowl ready for the steamer, note the handle made from the string that also ties it together around the top.. this makes it very much easier to lift out when hot and is well worth doing.  

This bowl is actually a Christmas pudding I made before Christmas which is also a suet pudding but unlike most made to keep for months rather than used straight away.

Variations allowed:  You are allowed completely free rein on flavours and fillings and I am very much looking forward to seeing where the Daring Bakers take a very traditional dish like this.

Any variations due to restricted diets are of course allowed. Due to the way these recipes are cooked it’s very easy to substitute for gluten-free flours and get very much the same results as wheat. Do try your favorite flour mix as these are much more tolerant of flour changes than most pasty.

They can be made vegetarian and even vegan just by using the vegetarian replacement suet and an appropriate flavour/filling.

Preparation time:  Preparation time is 5 to 20 minutes depending on the filling. Cooking time is 1 to 5 hours so do this on a day you have jobs around the house to do or are popping in and out as you need to occasionally check the pan hasn’t boiled dry! However it is otherwise a very low time requirement dish.

Equipment required:• 2 pint (1 litre) pudding bowl or steam-able containers to contain a similar amount they should be higher rather than wide and low
Traditional pudding bowl so you know what is normally used.

• Steamer or large pan, ideally with a steaming stand, upturned plate or crumpled up piece of kitchen foil
• Mixing bowl
• Spoon
• Measuring cups or scales
• Foil or grease proof paper to cover the bowl
• String

Type 1 Puddings — suet crusts.
Pudding Crust for both Savoury Pudding or Sweet Pudding (using suet or a suet substitute):


(250 grams/12 ounces) Self-raising flour (Note* If you cannot find self-raising flour, use a combination of all-purpose flour and baking powder.)
(175 grams/6 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
(a pinch) Salt and pepper  (Note* If making a savory dish, can be replaced with spices for sweet if wished.)
(210 millilitres/a little less than a cup) Water  (Note* You can use a milk or a water and milk mix for a richer pastry.)

1. Mix the flour and suet together.
2. Season the flour and suet mixture with salt and pepper if savory and just a bit of salt and/or spices if sweet.
3. Add the water, a tablespoonful at a time, as you mix the ingredients together. Make up the pastry to firm an elastic dough that leaves the bowl clean.  The liquid amounts are only an estimate and most recipes just say water to mix.

4. Don’t over handle the pastry or it will be too hard.
5. Reserve a quarter for the lid and roll out the rest and line a well-greased bowl.
6. At this point add your filling.. a couple of options are give below but have fun and go wild!
7. Roll the final piece of pastry out into a circle big enough to cover the top of the basin, dampen the edges and put in position on the pudding, pinching the edges together to seal.
8. Seal well and cover with a double sheet of foil – pleated in the centre to allow room for expansion while cooking. Secure with string, and place it in a steamer over boiling water.
9. Steam for up to 5 hours, you may need to add more boiling water halfway through or possibly more often. There is a lot of leeway in this steaming time and different recipes give different steaming times. Delia Smith says 5 hours for Steak and kidney where as Mrs Beeton says 2.5 for a similar dish!  One way to tell that it is cooked is when the pastry changes colour and goes from white to a sort of light golden brown. It is also hard to over steam a pudding so you can leave it bubbling away until you are ready.

This one is a steak and onion one cooked for 1.5 hours. (however as others have shown they come out even better if you steam for longer 3 to 5 hours is much better.)

This sort of pastry can also be used as a topping for a baked meat pie and becomes quite a light crusty pastry when baked.

Savoury Pudding Filling options: steak and kidney pudding.

1 full amount of suet crust (see recipe above)
(450 grams/about 1 pound) Chuck steak
(225 grams/about 1/2 a pound) Ox kidney
1 medium-sized onion
2 teaspoons well-seasoned flour
splash of Worcestershire sauce

1. Chop the steak and kidney into fairly small cubes, toss them in seasoned flour, then add them to the pastry lined basin.
2. Pop the onion slices in here and there.
3. Add enough cold water to reach almost to the top of the meat and sprinkle in a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper.
4. Follow the rest of the instructions in the crust recipe to finish pudding.
5. Cook for at least 2.5 hours (Mrs Beeton) up to 5 hours (Delia Smith).

Sweet Pudding Options: Sussex Pond Pudding

1 amount of suet pastry (see recipe above)
(120 grams/4.2 ounces) Demerara Sugar
(120 grams/4.2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 large lemon

1. Cut the butter into small pieces and put half in the basin with half the sugar.
2. Prick the whole lemon (preferably one with a thin skin) all over, using a thick skewer.
3. Place on top of the butter and sugar in the basin.
4. Cover with the rest of the butter and sugar.
5. Finish building the pudding as per the pastry recipe.
6. Steam for 3 ½ hours, or longer (for a really tender lemon), adding more water if needed.
7. To serve, turn the pudding into a dish with a deep rim, when you slice into it the rich lemon sauce will gush out.
8. Make sure each person is served some of the suet crust, lemon and tangy luscious sauce.

Type 2 puddings – Steamed Suet Pudding, sponge type.
(100 grams/4 ounces) All-purpose flour
(1/4 teaspoon) salt
(1.5 teaspoons) Baking powder
(100 grams/4 ounces) breadcrumbs
(75 grams/3 ounces) Caster sugar
(75 grams/ 3 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
(1) large egg
(6 to 8 tablespoons) Cold milk

1. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into bowl.
2. Add breadcrumbs, sugar and suet.
3. Mix to a soft batter with beaten egg and milk
4. Turn into a buttered 1 litre/ 2pint pudding basin and cover securely with buttered greaseproof paper or aluminum foil.
5. Steam steadily for 2.5 to 3 hours
6. Turn out onto warm plate, Serve with sweet sauce to taste such as custard, caramel or a sweetened fruit sauce.

Spotted Dick -  Add 75g/ 3oz currants and 25g/1 oz of mixed chopped peel with the sugar.
Syrup or Treacle or Marmalade Pudding – put 2 Tablespoons of golden syrup, treacle or marmalade at the bottom of the bowl before adding pudding mix.
My Fair Lady Pudding – Add finely grated rind of 1 medium orange or lemon with the sugar.
Ginger Pudding – replace the sugar with  100g/4oz of treacle, and add 1/2 tsp ground ginger.

Additional Information: 

Suet:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suet.

Suet substitutes:  http://www.practicallyedible.com/edible.nsf/pages/suet.

Vegetable suet:  http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/Dictionary/V/Vegetable-suet-6708.aspx.

Delia Smith shows you how to make suet pastry with step-by-step photos here: (http://www.deliaonline.com/how-to-cook/baking/how-to-make-suet-pastry.html).

Video of the whole process of making a suet crust pudding.

Video of making a steamed pudding:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afQ6g0R8pMc.

A very good place to find recipes for many British puddings is the Pudding Club website http://www.puddingclub.com/.

Steamed Pudding:  http://www.puddings.net/desserts/puddings/steamedpuddings/preparing.shtml

Mrs Beeton of course had many suet based puddings in her book and thefoody.com lists many of them. Some are described as boiled but nearly all can be steamed in a bowl in the same way as the full recipes I've give here including Staffordshire Fig Pudding: (http://thefoody.com/mrsbpudding/staffordshire.html), boiled raisin Pudding (http://thefoody.com/mrsbpudding/boiledraisin.html), Boiled Rhubarb Pudding (http://thefoody.com/mrsbpudding/rhubarbpudding.html), ginger pudding (http://thefoody.com/mrsbpudding/gingerpudding.html) and several more.
Christmas Pudding

Bacon and Leek Pudding:

Butter based versions of steamed pudding


Found a vegan one I can't vouch for it but thought it might be a starting point for someone.

The whole of Mrs Beeton on line
and just the puddings