Tag Archives: Basic

Sweet Chilli Jam

My mum LOVES sweet chilli sauce.  I honestly think she’d have it on everything if she could.  So I found this recipe for sweet chilli jam and knew I had to make it for her for Christmas.  It’s got a bit of a kick to it but if you’re not keen on spicy then just don’t use so many chillies.  I used a really big deep saute pan much wider than it is tall, which is a really useful pan to have around but any really large pan will do.  If the pan is deep rather than wide the jam will take longer to reach setting point. 

Makes about 4 small (~250ml) jars. 

8 red peppers, chopped (I used 4 long sweet ones and 4 bell as the supermarket didn’t have 8) < would you look at that, didn’t know I could do that I meant 8 then)!
6 large red chillies, sliced
about 2 1/2″ root ginger, peeled and chopped
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g tin cherry or plain chopped tomatoes
750g granulated sugar
250ml red wine vinegar

– Put the peppers, chillies, ginger and garlic in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped and pulpy.  You may have to do this in two batches. 
– Put this into your pan and add the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar. 
– Bring to the boil and then simmer at a rapid pace for about 45 minutes.  Keep stirring to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. 
– When there is a texture change and it goes very thick and sticky give it 5 minutes more while stirring. 
– Put into sterilised jars while still hot and screw the lids on immediately.

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Filed under Easy, Jams and Preserves

Mixed Apple Jelly

While I’m feeling organised I thought I’d get this recipe up before I forget all about it.  I found a hedge full of crab apples while out walking the dog a few weeks ago and although I didn’t know if they were edible I picked as many as I could get.  Luckily they turned out to be very edible!  I didn’t actually manage to get that many so I bulked them up with cooking apples that I couldn’t store as they were bruised windfalls.  Then I had 2 quince laying about so I chucked those in too.  It was a bad year for quince round these parts it would seem.  So mixed apple jelly was born! It’s a beautiful colour and smells divine. 

The best book on preserves ever is Let’s Preserve It by Beryl Wood.  Alas it is out of print so I may have to “borrow” it from my mother at some point in the future.  If I want to put something in a jar this book is my first port of call.  It’s magic!  This has been my first year of making jams, chutney and other things and I’m starting to get the hang of it now.  I used to be terrified of boiling sugar but now I’m a dab hand!  On the subject of sugar a lot of recipes I’ve googled say to use caster sugar.  Don’t.  Use granulated.  It’s much cheaper, which is great when using in these quantities,  and the size of the sugar crystals makes for better jams and other preserves. 

Quantity varies according to how much apple you start with. 

mixed apples: crab apples, cooking apples, eating apples, even quince
granulated sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
a knob of butter

– Chop up the apples into chunks, don’t bother to core or peel them. 
– Put them in a very large pan and cover with water. 
– Bring to the boil and simmer until soft and pulpy, about 30 minutes -1 hour. 
– Line a seive with muslin and suspend over a large mixing bowl. 
– Tip the apple mixture into the seive and cover with the corners of the muslin to keep flies off.  DO NOT PRESS OR SQUEEZE or you will get cloudy jelly. 
– Leave overnight to drip into the bowl. 
– Measure how much liquid you have and add 1 lb sugar for every pint of liquid you have.* 
– Put these together in a large pan and add the lemon juice. 
– Bring to the boil and simmer at a good rolling boil for 10-15 minutes until setting point is reached.** 
– Skim off the scum until you reach a good violent boil then add a knob of butter.  This jelly does throw a lot of skum so you have to call it quits at some point of you’d be there forever! 
– Decant into warm, sterilised jars and put the lids on while hot.  This jelly sets fast so work quickly. 

*I got a perfect 1 1/2 pints and so added 1 1/2 lbs.  Usually I’m a metric girl but often jams just work better in imperial, imperial seems more fitting to me anyway. 

** I am now a convert to the sugar thermometer.  I didn’t want to be but it does make things a lot easier.  Mine has all the necessary points marked on it and is made so you can’t touch the nib to the bottom of the pan and also has a very useful clip to attach it to the side of the pan. 

To test the if the setting point has been reached hold up the spoon and see how the drips form.  If they’re slow and large then test it.  Keep a saucer in the freezer and place a small amount of the jam on this, leave it for a moment then push your finger across the saucer.  If the jam wrinkles ahead of your finger it has reached setting point.  The bubbles are also a good indicator, they should be big, about 1cm, not tiny little ones.

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Filed under Jams and Preserves, Moderately easy, Uncategorized

Salt Dough

I love salt dough.  There’s something so satisfyingly primary school about it but it’s not just for kids!  It’s cheap, simple and fun.  My sister and I made up a 3 cup batch of this and set to making Christmas decorations.  We made a mixture of things: wreaths and candle holders, cut out decorations to hang on the tree and freestyle modeling decorations too, When we were kids we made all sorts of decorations and presents from it.  Handy hint, if you want to make a sheep or hair then the garlic crusher is your best friend.  We used acrylic paints to paint ours but you can use just about anything you like really.  For best results varnish the salt dough afterwards.  We didn’t because we like the rustic, homemade look and also because we’re impatient and couldnt’ be bothered to wait!  And yes, those Daleks are on the tree (round the back though) because what is more festive then the Doctor Who Christmas Special?

Makes however much you want, just multiply up keeping the same ratios. 

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp vegetable oil (don’t multiply this up, just add 1 tbsp unless you’re making a bucket load in which case add a few!)

– Mix together the salt and flour. 
– Add the oil.
– Gradually add the water and mix.   
– Once you have a smooth, kneadable dough you’re ready to go!
– Shape as you like and lay the finished product on baking paper. 
– Bake in the oven on gas mark 1 for 5 hours or microwave for 3 minutes then test and do longer if the dough is still soft underneath. 
– When cool paint as you wish and varnish if you like. 

NB.  YOU CANNOT EAT THIS RECIPE.  IT IS COMPLETELY INEDIBLE!

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Filed under Basic, Easy

Rough Puff Pastry

I could make puff pastry from scratch the proper way… but I haven’t yet found a dish where I think it’s actually worth it!  This is a perfectly acceptable ‘rough’ puff pastry.  I saw Nigella’s recipe for making puff pastry in a food processor and started off with that but then went by way of this ancient tome “Farmhouse Cookery” we have because it was much more helpful in the method.  I did use the food processor to do the first bit but frankly5 minutes and a knife would have the same effect.  Yes, it would technically take longer but once you factor in getting the food processor out, set up, used and washed up you’re probably more than even.  But I’m washing up phobic so I always choose the method with the least amount! 

250g strong plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
250g butter, cut into 1/2 cm slices
1 tsp lemon juice
5-6 tbsp chilled water

– Mix together the flour and salt. 
– Add the butter and either pulse 3-4 times or cut the butter into the flour repeatedly.  Chunks of butter will still be visible. 
– Add the lemon juice and enough water to bring the dough together. 
– Get in there with your hand to bring the dough together in a ball. 
– Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
– Unwrap the dough and roll out on a floured worksurface into a large rectangle 3 times longer than it is wide. 
– Fold into thirds (bring the right third over onto the centre third then the left side over on top of that), turn 90* and roll out again. 
– Fold into thirds again, turn another 90* and roll out again. 
– Repeat another 3-4 times.  The dough will become harder and harder to roll out as you go and the buttery chunks will disappear. 
– Fold the dough again and rewrap in clingfilm and chill for another 30 minutes. 
– Unwrap and roll out the dough to your desired thickness on a lightly floured surface.

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Homemade Tortillas

Tonight we had enchiladas for dinner.  I was all prepped and organised, I’d made the sauce and done all of my prep as I had to go out and would only get back in time to eat.  Then I got the tortilla wraps out.  Disaster!  They’d gone off.  I knew that mum had made flour tortillas once before so it had to be doable and set off to google a quick recipe for tortillas.  I found two that looked good (love recipes with pictures!) and since they were both the same recipe with very different ratios I sort of took a stab at somewhere in the middle and made it up as I went a long.  With hindsight I’d use double the fat if I make these again and cook them for no more than 20 seconds each side.  As it was these tortillas were very stiff, when I tried to make an enchilada with one it cracked into six pieces.  No worries though, dinner became Layered Enchiladas!  But first here is the basic recipe for tortillas.

Makes 6 dinner plate sized ones, probably 8 smaller

250g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
50g lard or butter(I used 25g lard*)
100ml warm water plus extra as needed

– Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium sized bowl. 
– Rub in the lard or butter using your fingers. 
– Add the water and mix well.  Add water 1 tbsp at a time mixing between additions until a soft dough has formed. 
– Turn out onto a lightly floured worksurface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth. 
– Put in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rest for 15-20 minutes. 
– Turn out and lightly knead for a minute. 
– Divide into equal portions. 
– Cover any balls of dough you are not working with. 
– Heat a dry frying pan on the hob. 
– Roll out the ball of dough until paper thin.  Aim for a circle but tidy up the shape by stretching the dough out into shape with your hands.  This requires elbow grease.  When I say paper I mean it!
– Pick up and carefully place flat in the very hot frying pan. 
– Cook for 20-30 seconds each side.  Just scare it with the frying pan, don’t leave it or it will dry out too much. 
– Place the cooked tortillas under a tea towel in a warm place. 
– Repeat for each ball.

*Lard has a bad reputation but can actually be better for you than than butter.  I think it has less saturated fat and less cholesterol but I’m not certain just how much better it is.  Either way it doesn’t deserve the bad rep. it has.

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Filed under Breads, Moderately easy

Frothy Milk

I love me some frothy milk.  I like it for my hot chocolate, for my latte, for… well, nope, just those things really.  But frothy milk makes them so much better than ordinary milk!  I used to have an Aerolatte, which was great, love that thing, however it currently resides in a box somewhere in the garage with the rest of my kitchen.  I also have a fancy coffee maker with a steam wand out there too.  However, currently I have neither of these things.  I have been frothy milk-less! 

However, salvation has arrived!  Here is a simple how to for making frothy milk with a jam jar and a microwave.  Sorted! 

(My mother has asked that I point out that Friday is kitchen cleaning day and it has been a hell of a week so any mess you see is the result of bad timing for me to do a quick photo shoot before doing my chores!  I would like to point out the irony of the fancy coffee maker sitting in the back of the shots.  Hasn’t been used in years, I think the instructions were written in Martian!)

Half fill a clean jam jar with milk. Put the lid on.

Shake the jar for about 30 seconds.

The bubbly milk should have doubled in volume.

Remove the lid and microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute (depends how hot you want your milk).

Remove from the microwave.

 (I have to put in here that your milk will probably be a bit more bubbly than mine, mine had to sit for a bit here as there was a fight over the work surface while mum made a bacon sandwich!)

Put your coffee or hot chocolate in the mug. If making hot chocolate I like to mix the powder with a bit of milk first then give it 30 seconds in the microwave.

Pour the milk into the mug holding back the foam with a spoon.

Spoon the foam on to the top. Enjoy!

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Filed under Drinks, Easy, Uncategorized

Pancakes

I thought it would be as well to have this recipe here separately just as a reference if you are looking to make plain pancakes.  Fill these with whatever you like, I’m very fond of mapel syrup and squirty cream myself or just good old fashioned lemon juice and sugar.  Anything goes with pancakes!

Makes 8
125g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
300ml milk

– Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre. 
– Add the egg and milk and beat until smooth and the consistency of single cream, you may have to add a bit more milk to achieve this. 
– Leave to stand for at least 5 minutes, preferably 20. 
– Heat a non stick frying pan with a little bit of butter greasing it. 
– Add a small amount of the batter to the pan and swirl around until the bottom of the pan is evenly coated. 
– Leave for about 1 minutes until the edges are cooked and curling then flip over and cook the other side. 
– Put on a warm plate covered with a teatowel then repeat until you have no more batter.

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Neep and Tattie Cake

Or for those of a non Scottish persuasion, Swede and Potato Cake.  This was served as an accompaniment to our Chicken and Mushroom Pie the other night.  It was supposed to have slices of Pancetta or streaky bacon on the top/bottom but the bacon had gone off.  Oopsie!  I shall give the recipe as for bacon but it was perfectly nice without it.  I could, of course have just served swede and potato mash but serving it as a cake and cutting slices is a much more fun way of presenting a vegetable.  The crispy edges were rather nice too!  One note though, my ancient masher isn’t great at getting to the very bottom of the pan so there were larger lumps of swede in this, with a better masher I’m sure you could achieve a finer consistency. 

Neep and Tattie Cake

Serves 6

1/2 a large swede
3 baking potatoes
approx 6 rashers streaky bacon/pancetta
a good knob of butter (approx 50g if you’re measuring)

– Bring a large pan of asalted water to the boil on the hob. 
– Peel and chop the swede and potatoes into roughtly 1cm chunks. 
– Add the swede to the boiling water.
– After 10 minutes add the potatoes. 
– Continue to boil for another 20 minutes until a sharp knife goes in smoothly. 
– Drain the water from the pan and return the swede and potato to a low heat to dry out any remaining water. 
– Remove from the heat, add half the butter, season to taste and then mash. 
– Grease a round ovenproof serving dish, or even a flan dish or sandwich tin if you don’t have anything else suitable, with sunflower oil. 
– Arrange the strips of bacon in a cross, then add in extra stripes on the quarters, like the union flag. 
– Scoop the mash into the dish and smooth over the top. 
– Dot the remaining butter all over. 
– Place in the oven at Gas Mark 7 and bake for 40 minutes until crispy and golden brown on top. 
– Run a knife around the outside to losen then turn out onto a serving plate.
– Cut slices to serve.

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Shortcrust Pastry

Today I conquered one of my kitchen fears.  I MADE PASTRY!!!  No, really, I’m that excited about it.  For years I have been incredibly wary about pastry because where my mother and sister have lovely pastry hands, nice and cold, I’ve always had nice warm hands.  As such I had been told that pastry and I would not get on.  Well today I can totally refute that! 

I was making a chicken and mushroom pie for dinner tonight to use up leftover roast chicken but when I went to the fridge to get the shop bought puff pastry I had planned to use it was… well, approaching sentience actually.  There was nothing for it, I was going to have to make pastry. 

I have one cook book that I return to again and again.  The Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cook Book.  (Although I think this is the current edition.)  It was one of the first cookbooks I ever got, before I’d ever tried to cook anything other than fairy cakes.  My mum also has a copy and both are now dog eared and spilt on through many years of sterling kitchen service.  It is the first cookbook I reach for when I don’t know how to do something or just want some inspiration, the colour picture index is great for that, and it was this cookbook I reached for this evening when facing the daunting task making my very first pastry. 

I am happy to report that not only is shortcrust pastry easy, it was also quick and, for cooking, pretty low mess too!  The recipe I use for chicken and mushroom pie filling can be found here.  Instead of cooking the chicken breast I just added chunks of roast chicken stripped from Sunday’s roast.  Usually I decorate pies with a representation of what’s in them but I decided that this was going to be the prettiest pie in the world.  Usually savoury pies are seen as manly and butch where as sweet pies are more girly, nope, not this pie.  I decided that hearts and flowers were the only way to go, sorry dad!

Pie!

Makes enough for 1 pie, decorations and a bit leftover*. 

225g plain flour
pinch of salt
50g butter, chilled and diced
50g Trex (white vegetable fat), chilled and diced
3-4 tbsp chilled water

– Mix together the flour and salt.
– Add the butter and Trex and rub into the flour with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs. 
– Add 3 -4 tbsp cold water by sprinkling it evenly over the surface fo the mixture.  (I used 3 tbsp and a bit.)
– Using a flat bladed knife mix it together until it forms a dough. 
– Gather it together with your hands and lightly knead for a few seconds to bring it together. 
– Form the dough into a ball and wrap it in clingfilm.  Place it in the fridge for 30 minutes. 
– Lightly flour the worksurface and the rolling pin, not the pastry. 
– Turn out the dough onto the worksurface and roll it out in one direction, turning it as you go until it reaches about 3 mm thick. 
– Place your pie dish upsidedown on top of the pastry and cut a line around the dish about 1 cm out to leave room for shrinkage. 
– Cut a second line around this about 1.5 cm thick.
– Fill the pie dish with the filling. 
– Moisten the edge of your dish with a finger dipped in water then press the 1.5 cm thick strip round the outside of the dish trimming the length to fit.   
– Moisten this pastry with water again then lay the rest of the pastry over the top using the rolling pin to help lift it across. 
– Shape the edges how you want to, I used a fork pressed round the edge. 
– Add any decorations you want to on the top, moistening them with water to stick them down. 
– Brush with beaten egg or milk. 
– Bake at gas mark 7 for 45 minutes. 

*(I cut out itty bitty flowers from the last of the pastry, dabbed the tops with the spare egg wash and sprinked them with grated hard cheese then baked them for 10 minutes at Gas 6)

Tuck in!

I served this with carrots, brocolli and neep and tattie cake, which I shall post tomorrow.

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Filed under Basic, Easy

Bread!

I love making bread.  This is kind of handy when I make it every few days.  Although I suppose that if I didn’t enjoy if I wouldn’t do it!  I started making bread back in July when I was bored out of my mind and bread was the first thing I could think of that would take hours to cook.  I haven’t looked back.  I’ve made bread loaves, cottage loaves, bread buns, pita breads, focaccia, and the usual free form round loaf to my heart’s content!  There is something so theraputic about making bread.  I enjoy the all of the kneading, rising and shaping.  It all adds up to make something so satisfying and delicious. 

I started out using an overnight rising technique with my easy overnight white bread recipe but now I’ve had practice I can make bread from start to finish in 3 hours.  It really breaks down into 4 stages, mixing, rising, second rising and baking.  I think that I can get everything together, measured out, mixed and kneaded in 30 minutes.  It then needs an hour to rise, then shaping takes anything up to 30 minutes when making rolls, then another 30 minute rise, then 25 minutes cooking.  If I start at 5pm then I have freshly cooked bread on the table for dinner at 8pm. 

I thought it was about time to post about all of the little tricks I’ve learnt to make the process go a little quicker and make my bread a little better.  I use the same basic white bread recipe I started with but it’s the techniques I’ve developed that have really made the difference to the quality of the bread that I produce. 

Plaited Bread Rolls

White Bread Recipe

Makes 1 large loaf, 12 small rolls

500g strong white bread flour
7g fast action yeast
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
300ml warm water

– Heat your oven up to the lowest setting it has.  Mine has Slow Cook.  This isn’t to do any cooking, it’s just to create a warm, draft free environment for yor dough to rise in.  In the summer I was leaving the dough in a basket in the conservatory as it was very warm but now that winter is approaching the oven is the best place I’ve found. 
– Put the flour, yeast and salt in a very large bowl and mix it about a bit. 
– Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and then add the oil and water.  To get warm water I use 200ml cold water and 100ml boiling mixed together. 
– Use a spoon to mix together the ingredients until it forms into a ball of dough. 
– Get in there with your hands, floured, to gather it all together and then turn it out onto a floured work surface. 
– Dust the dough with flour on top as well and start kneading.  Squish it out ahead of you, then fold it back and rotate 90*, squish, fold, rotate.  So long as you work the dough and move it all about a lot then it doesn’t really matter how you do it.  You should be picking up the lose flour and working it in to the dough as you go.  If the dough starts to get too sticky just dust a little more flour and keep working it. 
– Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.  You’ll notice the difference in textures, it wants to be soft and smooth feeling, no dust or lumps. 
– I then turn off the oven and wash out the bowl I mixed the dough in (it’s the only very large bowl I have) and then put about 1 tbsp olive oil in, a small glug, I use my hands to spread the oil all over the inside of the bowl then use my oily hands to knead the dough again for another minute until my hands are no longer oily. (I think this could be the key step for excellent bread)   
– Shape the dough into a ball and then put it in the oiled bowl, turn it over thereby coating all of the dough in oil. 
– Cover the bowl with a tea towel and then place it in the oven, or other warm, draft free place, for one hour or until doubled in size. 
– Take the dough out, dust the top of your risen dough lightly with flour and then plunge your fist into the middle of the dough. 
– Gather the dought together, wiping it around the bowl to pick up the bits then turn out and knead for another minute or two to knock out all of the air and mix in the small amount of flour used.  
– Prepare a baking tray, or two, with a dusting of flour or a sheet of baking paper. 
– Now you shape your dough into whatever you are making. 
– If you’re making a free form loaf then pull the edges of the ball underneath it and sort of pinch together so you have a smooth top then place it seam down on the baking tray and just shape it into the rough shape you’re after, remembering to keep height as it will spread out. 
– If you’re making a loaf in a tin then squish the dough into a rectangle, fold one third over then the other third over than and place seam down into a large greased loaf tin.  You’re probably better off only using 2/3 of the dough in a loaf tin otherwise it’ll be a really massive loaf!
– If you’re making buns then cut off portions of the dough, keeping the dough you’re not using covered int he bowl, and either pinch the sides of the ball to the bottom to make a smooth ball, roll into a line then tie in a knot for a knotted bun (I think they look like snails!), or divide into 3, roll into lines then plait together pinching the ends together and tucking them tidily under for plaited rolls. 
– Leave to rise again in a warm, draft free place for 30 minutes.  Fortunately I have a top oven/grill above the main oven where I can place the bread and pick up some of the heat from the bottom oven.  Unfortunately you may not. 
– Meanwhile heat the oven to gas mark 7 with some boiling water in an oven proof dish in the bottom. 
– If making a free form loaf dust the top with flour and slash a few times with a very sharp knife. 
– Place the bread in the oven and bake for 25 minutes for a loaf, 12 minutes for rolls.  Once the top is golden brown and the base of the loaf  sounds hollow when tapped your bread is cooked.  Rolls cooked on the bottom shelf may need a few minutes more on the top shelf to brown.  Cool on a wire rack. 
– Leave the bread to stand for at least 15 minutes before eating to develop a good texture. 

Assorted bread rolls

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