We made two new recipes today. The first was carrot cake. Emma's aunt recently gave us some apples from the tree in her garden. I ate most of them and we decided to bake something with the rest. Emma had read about using apple sauce as a replacement for vegetable oil in recipes. Last night I chopped the apples and simmered in half an inch of water until they had started to break down. I then liquidized the apples to make a smooth sauce.
We usually follow Delia Smith's recipe so I used that as the basis but replaced the oil with an equal volume of the apple sauce. I also reduced the amount of sugar from 6oz to 4oz. Delia's recipe suggests baking for 35--40 minutes but we found that it needed closer to 50 minutes.
This evening I make tuna and chickpea burgers, based on a recipe from the BBC Good Food magazine. I used leeks instead of onions and parsley instead of coriander but apart from that I followed the recipe fairly closely. The cooked burgers had a fairly soft texture but they tasted good.
Emma made this cheesecake today. The recipe came with some money-off vouchers for Oreos so we decided to make the recipe using the genuine article instead of a cheaper substitute biscuit.
A couple of weeks ago I made a German Friendship Cake which was used a sweet yeast based starter. After making the cake I gave a portion of the starter to my mum so she could have a go at making it, and kept the rest of the starter going by repeating the feeding and stirring process.
I had read somewhere that the starter can be used to make pancakes. Since today is Good Friday, and the end of Lent, I thought it would be a good time to have a go at making them, so that Lent started and ended with pancakes.
I poured a few tablespoons of the starter into a hot oiled frying pan and cooked for a minute or so on each side. The pancakes started to bubble nicely and looked quite promising while they were cooking. The end result wasn't quite as good as I was expecting, they were still a bit doughy in the middle. I added a bit more milk to the mixture and gave it a second attempt.
The plain pancakes were a bit sweet but they went well with a bit of lemon juice. I didn't get the cooking time or temperature sorted properly since each pancake was still a bit soft in the middle. It was an interesting experiment but I will stick to the traditional pancake batter in future.
Last year I bought a pack of seeds from Garden Organic at Ryton. It was described as 'Edible Leaves, Roots and Shoots' and contained a collection of wild plants which are commonly described as weeds but which are edible. I planted the seeds in a tub in the garden and last year I made some crispy seaweed from some of the leaves, and managed to save some Wild Mustard seeds from one of the plants which grew.
I left the plants over the winter but yesterday I decided to dig them up so I could reuse the tub for a more productive crop this year. I found two large roots:
This plant turned out to be Wild Carrot. I washed the root and had a chew on a small piece. It was very tough and fibrous but did have a slight carrot taste.
It took a bit longer to identify this but I managed to work out that it was Common Mallow. This is a relative of the Marsh Mallow, which gave its name to the soft and fluffy sweet. It is possible to boil the roots to extract a gelatinous substance which could possibly be used to make a version of the original marshmallow so today I decided to give it a go.
I peeled and chopped the root then simmered it in a small amount of water. I then whisked the slightly gloopy water with some caster sugar, vanilla essence and pink food colouring. The mixture was a bit runny and kept splashing everywhere so I cheated by whisking in some cornflour and returning it to the pan.
The end result was a soft sweet tasting jelly which did not resemble an actual marshmallow sweet at all.
It is the monthly cake day in work tomorrow. Normally it is held on the last friday of the month but it's been moved to coincide with Comic Relief day and the cakes are going to be sold for charity.
Since I like lemon drizzle cake I decided to have a go at making an Orange Drizzle Cake, based on the recipe in the Daily Mail. I followed the recipe fairly closely and only made a couple of small changes: I used granulated sugar instead of the caster and icing sugar and I reduced the amount of sugar used in the syrup because my oranges weren't very juicy.
I made one full-sized cake for tomorrow and two small 'samplers' in bun cases for us to try tonight. The cake turned out well - definitely a recipe I'd recommend.
This afternoon we had a go at making profiteroles. The choux pastry recipe came from a home baking book and wasn't as difficult as we expected. One thing we did learn is that the profiteroles rise better if we cook them one tray at a time instead of putting two trays in the oven and swapping them over.
Profiterole stuffed with cream cheese
A traditional profiterole with cream filling and chocolate sauce poured over the top.
The profiterole ring, fresh from the oven.
The profiterole ring after adding the cream and chocolate.
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Since it is Christmas, there has been a lot of unhealthy (but very tasty) foods being eaten. We made (and ate) 3 different desserts, which I will describe here, and not a single Christmas Pudding in sight.
For breakfast on Christmas Day, we had waffles with fresh cream and ganache. This was accompanied by the traditional bucks fizz, only we made a red bucks fizz using sparkling rose and an orange and raspberry juice.
The next two desserts were larger which we shared when we went to visit friends and family.
Pear Syllabub. The pears were peeled and sliced and poached in a sweet dessert wine. The cake was a simple microwave sponge cake. The syllabub itself was creme fraiche, double cream, icing sugar, the wine from the poached pears, and the juice and zest of 1 lemon, all beaten together. We layered the sponge, pears and cream mixture in a bowl and put it in the fridge overnight.
The roulade recipe was from the Daily Mail 'Weekend' magazine but was similar to a recipe on Delia's website.
We have had a couple of goes at making fudge, following this recipe. Since we don't have a sugar thermometer, we have been using the 'soft ball' test, where you drop a small amount of the hot mixture into a bowl of water and check whether you get a soft ball of fudge (meaning it's ready), or a soft squishy mess (meaning it needs to cook for a bit longer).
We tried a few variations, adding maple syrup or ground+crystallised ginger. We might invest in a proper thermometer eventually but the recipe works well without one.
This recipe was based on another from Channel 4 which contained turkish delight. As usual we adjusted the recipe according to what we had in our kitchen.
Yesterday I roasted 500g of sweet potatoes for around 1 hour at gas mark 5, until the insides had gone soft and the skins had gone crispy. I scraped the insides out of the skins and put them in a tub in the fridge until we were ready to start the recipe.
The new ingredients were as follows:
500g sweet potato
15 quail eggs (equivalent to 3 medium eggs)
140g light brown sugar
60g dark muscavado sugar
175g dark chocolate
25g ground almonds and 75g ground peanuts
2 tablespoons millet flour
70g fat reduced cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp vanilla extract
no turkish delight
The method was the same as the channel 4 version but we stirred the mixture instead of folding in the ingredients because the mixture was a bit too dry to start with.
We melted a mixture of milk and plain chocolate together and poured some into paper cake cups. The peanut butter was made by putting some salted peanuts into a food processor. The peanut butter was slightly crumbly. We tried to avoid adding any extra fat so didn't add any vegetable oil to the peanuts but next time we make it, we might add a small amount to help make it more like a paste.
I made the Elderflower Delight on thursday evening and put it in the fridge overnight to set. When I checked on friday morning, it hadn't gone properly firm but was more like a very thick syrup.
On friday evening I scraped it back into a saucepan and warmed it up again, adding another sachet of gelatine (the gelatine was a bit out of date so might have lost some of its effectiveness). This time it set properly - still slightly soft but firm enough to cut into cubes.
I mixed equal weights of icing sugar and cornflour together and coated the cubes in it to stop them from sticking together.
For a first attempt, the elderflower delight was quite good. It is quite sweet, so I could probably only eat a few cubes at once, but the elderflower flavour was just about right.
I spotted this recipe in the River Cottage Hedgerow book. We had all the ingredients in the kitchen (sugar, cornflour, elderflowers, lemon juice, gelatine) and it seemed straightforward enough to make.
The only changes I made were to use 300ml of elderflower extract (which I had made for the elderflower wine and cider) and to use powdered gelatine instead of leaf gelatine.
I don't think I was prepared for the amount of stirring involved but eventually it thickened so I poured it into a baking tray to cool and set.
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Last year I planted some 'Mignonette' alpine strawberries. We only got a handful of strawberries per week last year but this year we are getting many more. Most of the time we eat the fruit on its own, with melon, or with ice cream. This week I decided to keep the strawberries in the fridge until I had enough to cook something new.
250g puff pastry, rolled out.
2 cups of strawberries.
¼ cup of light brown sugar.
3 tablespoons of cornflour.
Mix the strawberries, sugar and cornflour together. Place in the middle of the pastry. Brush the edges with milk, and roll up, crimping the ends together. Brush the outside with milk then bake in the oven, gas mark 7, for 20 minutes.
The strudel was slightly over-cooked, thanks to me failing to start the kitchen timer properly, but otherwise it was good.
This weeks recipe came from the Mail on Sunday. When we first read it, it sounded unusual and interesting. Since we recently tried Chocolate and Beetroot Cake, we thought another strange vegetable cake was worth trying.
The cake came out quite moist and lightly spiced. We made a few slight changes, using allspice instead of ground cloves, and doubling the quantity of cinnamon. You couldn't tell it was tomato soup based unless you tasted carefully and tried to discern the flavour. If you didn't know, I don't think it would be obvious.
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We have a monthly cake day in work, on the last friday of each month. My contribution was this chocolate and beetroot cake:
The recipe came from the Channel 4 website. A couple of months ago I mentioned to a colleague that I had some beetroot in the garden. He sent me the recipe and said it was better than you'd expect.
The beetroot from the garden was smaller than I expected. When I weighed it, it was closer to 75g than the 250g required so I had to go out and buy some more. The supermarket didn't have raw beetroot so I got cooked instead and I don't think it had any adverse effect.
The cake was quite good, with a nice gooey texture. I don't actually like beetroot so I was glad you couldn't really taste it in the cake. I peeled all the beetroot to reduce the chance of the cake having that 'earthy' taste which beetroot often has.