I carried on trying out different porridge recipes this week. A couple of highlights are below.
Apple and Blackberry Porridge
When I made the apple puree a few weeks ago, I bottled and froze the juice which collected in the bottom of the pan. I used it to make an apple and blackberry porridge.
Tropical Fruit Porridge
I used coconut water instead of milk, and added some tropical fruit mix.
I only had time to try 4 different porridges this week. I'm going to be away on Friday so won't have chance to make anything.
Monday: Bacon and Syrup
Yes, you read that right. I don't like mixing sweet flavours with meat and consider pineapple with gammon or on a pizza to be a very poor choice. I decided to be adventurous and try a sweet bacon porridge. Mistake. I could still taste it even after a cup of tea and brushing my teeth.
Tuesday: Apple and Blackberry
After last week's Apple and Cinnamon porridge, I decided to try an Apple, Blackberry and Cinnamon porridge, using extra cinnamon. This was better than the plain apple one, although the blackberry seeds added a bit of a crunchy texture.
Wednesday: Lemon Berry Porridge
This was inspired by a recipe from the World Porridge Making championships. I used a mixture of frozen berries (blueberries, blackberries, wild strawberries and red gooseberries) which were mostly picked in our garden, with about a tablespoon of added lemon juice. I cooked the porridge in water instead of milk then added the fruit.
I tried the porridge first, before adding any extra sugar. I don't think it needed any. The fruit were quite sweet and the lemon juice balanced it out with some added sharpness.
Thursday: Chocolate and Coconut
This was inspired by the flavours of the Bounty chocolate bar. Since dessicated coconut can be quite 'bitty', I microwaved some in water last night then added it to the porridge this morning, along with some drinking chocolate. The coconut still had a bit of bite to it. I have tried coconut in porridge several times before and there are always some hard bits so I probably need to boil or simmer it for quite a long time to stop that happening.
I have porridge for breakfast fairly often but now that the weather is starting to get cold, it's probably time to make it my regular breakfast now. Most mornings I just add some dried fruit and sometimes some honey but this week I thought I would try a different flavour each day.
Monday: Peanut butter and Cranberry
Since it is World Porridge Day, I decided to do a different porridge each day this week. I only decided this after I had already left for work so this morning I used what I had available: a tub of dried cranberries and a small pot of peanut butter.
Tuesday: Dried raspberry
While I like raspberries, the taste didn't get into the porridge and they were very 'bitty' to eat.
Wednesday: Apple, cinnamon and brown sugar
I have mentioned before that most cake recipes don't use enough cinnamon. Unfortunately I made the same mistake myself and didn't add enough to the oats. Next time, I will add more and possibly use sweetened cooked apple instead of chopping a fresh apple into the porridge.
Thursday: Strawberry Porridge
We have a bag of frozen strawberries so I put some in a tub to defrost in the fridge overnight and added them to the porridge after I had cooked it. I then gave it another 20 seconds in the microwave to make sure the strawberries weren't too cold.
Fresh strawberries don't always have much flavour and I could probably have added more but this was ok.
Friday: Nutella and Peanut Butter
This used to be a favourite of mine but I hadn't had it for a while. We recently bought a jar of nutella so I made it again today. This was possibly my favourite of the week.
Despite this recipe being named after Bakewell, this is nothing to do with my A-Z of Cakes since the cake is really named after the Bakewell Tart and not the town itself. The 'genuine article' is the Bakewell Pudding, not the pastry based tart you can get in the shops everywhere else.
We first cooked this cake a few years ago, following a recipe we cut from a newspaper. An almost identical recipe features on the Good Food magazine site but uses more raspberries than the one we followed.
Our main change was to use diced marzipan in the middle layer and also on top instead of flaked almonds.
The resulting cake is soft, moist and delicious.
I think most people agree that the crumble topping is the best part of a fruit crumble, so a cake which is mostly crumble should be very good. My interpretation was based on two recipes but as usual I made a few changes.
To make the crumble mixture, I put the flour, brown sugar and butter in a food processor and blitzed until they formed breadcrumbs. I then mixed in some ground almonds and dessicated coconut.
The fruit layer was made using a tub of berries from the bushes in our garden. This was a mixture of blackberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries and alpine strawberries. I put them in a pan with a tablespoon of water and slowly heated them to a simmer. I then added a couple of tablespoons of sloe gin mixed with cornflour and stirred this in until the fruit mixture had thickened.
I put half of the crumble layer in the bottom of a lined 8 inch tin and pressed it down. I then spread the fruit layer and finally topped with the rest of the crumble. The tin then went into the oven (gas mark 4) for about 45 minutes or so, until the top looked cooked.
I left the cake (or is it a biscuit?) to cool before slicing it and removing it from the tin.
I think that fruit crumbles work best when the fruit has a slightly sharp taste. This is probably why one of the most popular uses of rhubarb is in a crumble. Since my fruit mixture contained alpine strawberries and gooseberries (and no added sugar apart from the small amount in the sloe gin), the fruit layer had a good amount of sharpness to balance the sweetness of the crumble layer.
It's very hard to eat just one.
|Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /|
I seem to be making a lot of things based on recipes from the Hairy Biker's books but that's probably because a) they are quite good books and b) I got 3 of them this year. This week's recipe is one I've been meaning to make for a while and is based on a recipe from their Pies book.
We both like baklava but don't eat it often because it is usually quite expensive to buy. They can be a bit labour intensive to make but they weren't very difficult. The main problem was handling the filo pastry without it falling apart.
I made the filling with chopped mixed nuts, chopped pistachios and chopped dates. I cut squares of filo pastry to fit the tin then brushed the tin with melted butter. I brushed a square with melted butter, put another square on top and repeated until I had a stack of 5. I put these in the bottom of the pan, and them topped with a third of the filling.
I put a square of filo on top, brushed it with butter then a second square. I then repeated with another third of the filling and 2 more sheets of pastry and the final third of the filling.
The remaining sheets of filo were brushed with butter and stacked then put on top. I scored the top with a knife, to divide the baklava into 16 pieces. I baked it in the oven for about half an hour until the top looked crispy.
I made a syrup using 100ml of juice from a tin of fruit, 200g of sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. After the baklava had cooled a bit I spooned the syrup over the top, pouring most of it down the score marks.
After a few weeks of cakes which have been ok but not spectacular, the baklava was a total success, tasting every bit as good as bought ones.
|Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /|
This week brings another bread recipe from the Hairy Biker's book. The German Potato Bread was made using equal weights of mashed potato and bread flour, with salt, yeast and a small amount of sugar added. Some of the water the potatoes were boiled in was kept back and used in the mix.
The dough was quite sticky to work with since the flour was added a bit at a time until a reasonably firm dough was achieved. The resulting bread had a good soft texture and didn't taste potatoey.
The second recipe was a bit of an experiment. I had bought a tin of apricots with the intention of using them in another recipe but I never got around to making it and the tin had been in the cupboard for several months. I decided to have a go at a simple all in one cake where the ingredients just get dumped into a bowl, mixed then poured into a cake tin.
I chopped the apricots and added them, along with the syrup, to a mixing bowl. I added just under a cup of sugar, 1 medium egg and enough self-raising flour to make a reasonable looking cake batter (this turned out to be around 1 and a half cups).
This was poured into a greased and lined cake tin and baked for around 45 minutes at gas mark 4, until a skewer came out looking clean.
The cake is very moist and has a reasonable taste. It takes next to no time to prepare - it would be much faster if a tin of chopped or sliced fruit was used instead. You could also leave out the egg since I've seen some similar recipes which don't include one.
|Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /|
I did two new recipes this week. The first was a Norwegian Rye Bread from the Hairy Biker's book. Their recipe called for caraway seeds but I didn't have any of those. Instead I put some fennel seeds in the milk and strained them out when I added the milk to the flour.
The bread was good, with a nice texture and flavour.
The second recipe was from the River Cottage Cake book. It was described as a seasonal Fresh Fruit Cake. It was packed with fruit and nuts: I used apples, plums, dried apricots and sultanas, and grated coconut, and a mixture of ground almonds and chopped mixed nuts. Along with the flour and oats, it's probably close to being a nutritionally complete cake.
The photo doesn't really do it justice but the cake did come out looking a strange purple/brown colour. The texture was a bit like a soft flapjack instead of being like a traditional fruit cake. The mixture was enough to make 3 cakes - I kept one out to eat, put one in the freezer and one in the fridge. I think the texture improved on the one which had been in the fridge for a couple of days.
Last week I picked some elderberries but I only managed to get one small tub of them. I thought I would have a go at making elderberry syrup since it is supposed to be a good source of vitamin C. I read a few recipes but didn't follow any of them exactly.
I removed all the stalks and put the berries in a pan along with a small splash of water. I simmered the berries and pressed them against the side of the pan to release the juices. I strained the juice into a jug before putting the berries back in the pan with a bit more water for a 2nd extraction.
To make the syrup, I put the juice in a pan with a splash of lemon juice and a generous sprinkle of sugar. I simmered the juice for a few minutes to dissolve the sugar. When it had cooled, I poured it into a bottle and stored it in the fridge.
The first time I tasted the syrup it was still slightly warm and tasted quite sweet but later on when I sampled it again it had gone nice and cold and had a nice strong 'berry' flavour with no obvious sweetness.
We first noticed these flat peaches a couple of months ago in one of the grocers or small supermarkets in Coventry which specialised in foreign foods. Shortly afterwards we started seeing them everywhere, including in Tescos.
They seem to have come from nowhere and become ubiquitous very rapidly. We bought a pack last year and were dismayed to find they went mouldy very quickly but I did manage to salvage one to eat. It was quite juicy but slightly bland. I think I will stick to normal peaches or nectarines.