Tag Archives: foodie

Salted Caramel Sauce

A very quick post today as I know some people are eagerly awaiting this recipe for Salted Caramel Sauce. It’s simple once you know how and absolutely amazing! I have had to restrain myself from simply eating it from the jar! 

Makes 1 jar

250ml double cream

1 cup granulated sugar

1tsp salt

– Pour the cream into a small pan and heat to just short of boiling. Turn off the heat and set aside. 

– Place the sugar in one flat layer in a large, heavy bottomed pan. You need it to be much bigger than you think as when you combine the ingredients it can bubble up and rise to nearly 10 times the height! Also, thin pans mean that the sugar may quickly burn as the heating is more intense. Heat your sugar on a LOW heat. It will take time (about 8 minutes to start to melt) but if you heat it too intensely then the sugar may burn and cause problems for you. Do Not Stir!

– Once about 8 minutes has gone by you should be able to see the sugar melting around the edges. At this point you can gently turn the sugar so the melted stuff on the bottom comes on top and the solid sugar on top gets to the bottom. Your sugar should be turning from white to golden caramel. Don’t rush, it will get there. 

-Once your sugar is all melted with no lumpy bits take it off the heat. 

– Pour half your hot cream into the sugar. It WILL bubble, spit and rise up. Stir vigorously the whole time. 

– When it has died back down pour the remaining cream in, remembering to keep stirring. It will usually rise and spit again. It will look like a lumpy mess. This is normal. 

– Return the pan to a low heat and keep stirring. The lumpy mess will slowly melt back in and you will get a smooth pale caramel sauce. This will probably take about 10 minutes. If you have any huge lumps it may take longer but they will eventually dissolve. You don’t want the mixture to boil so keep it on a nice low heat and it will get there! 

– When you have a nice, smooth sauce sprinkle over the salt and give it a good mix then pour into a heat proof container. 

– I store mine at room temperature but that’s because it doesn’t last long at all! If you plan to be more restrained in your consumption then you can keep it in the fridge but be aware that it will stiffen at a lower temperature. 

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Filed under Basic, Desserts, For the Keen Cook, Gluten Free, Jams and Preserves

Ration Week: Day 4

Today started well with eggy bread. I was going to make this with reconstituted dried egg powder but I just haven’t been able to find any! I was then going to use the dried egg white powder I’d found but after using it yesterday I was covered with an allergy rash. It could have been something else I touched but I did have an egg allergy as a child and still can’t have vaccines cultured on egg so chances are it was that. So, I fully confess I cheated and used a fresh egg for this bread. 

Eggy Bread: Mix 1 egg, splash milk, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Melt a scant tap of fat in a large frying pan. Dip 2 slices of bread in the egg on both sides then straight into the pan. Cook until browned on the first side then flip and cook until browned on the other side. 

Lunch was the fabulously vibrant beetroot soup! I spared some of my margerine ration to smear on the bread and indulged in a sausage roll as I’d been working hard in the garden all day!

Beetroot Soup: Place 3 cooked beetroots, peeled and diced, 1/2 oxo cube, a good pinch salt and a splash of Worcestershire sauce in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Either push the beetroot through a sieve or use a stick blender to purée it. Check for seasoning and serve.  

I decided to push the boat out a bit for dinner tonight and go for Sausages in Cider with a Potato Ring, braised cabbage and carrots. 

I’m a bit weird about fruit in my main courses but this sausage and cider stew was amazing! It’s definitely going to enter frequent rotation come the Autumn, it was gorgeous! The Potato Nest was a bit faffy for something that looked kind of cool but otherwise didn’t wow me. And when a wartime recipe tells you to grease your baking tray well you should listen to it because they didn’t waste fat if they didn’t need to! I tried to save my fat ration and do without and ended up with it stuck to the tray! 

Braised cabbage was a saviour. I would normally fry the cabbage in some fat first, sometimes using bacon lardons but here you simply use the stock, which adds a whole lot of flavour and the slow simmering adds a nice sorry so that the cabbage actually tastes like it should, unlike that boiling fiasco!  Boiled carrots rounded everything off. 

Sausages in Cider: Brown 4 oz sausages in a heavy bottomed pan. (Cheap sausages help here as the fat content means you don’t need to use extra fat!) add 1 sliced onion and 1 thinly sliced dessert apple with a good pinch of salt and sprinkle of pepper. Place the lid on the pan and cook for 2 -3 minutes until the onion and apple are softened. Add half a pint of cider and simmer for 20 minutes. Add 2 tsp corn flour to a little water then mix into the stew and stir until thickened. 

Potato Nest: Grate 3 medium potatoes and mix with 2 oz self raising flour and a good pinch of salt. GREASE your tray well and shape into a ring. Bake at gas mark 6 for 30-40 minutes. 

Braised Cabbage: half full a pan with chicken stock. Add sliced cabbage to fill the pan and put the lid on. Simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Check to see if you need to add any salt as the stock should be salty enough. 


As it’s Sunday I thought I’d try a fancy dessert recipe! This is Coffee Cream and is delicious even though I messed something up along the way and ended up with a lumpy dessert rather than the smooth, creamy dessert I think I should have got. I think I left the coffee part to set for too long before mixing it with the whisked evaporated milk so it didn’t combine well. The evaporated milk took forever to cool though so that held me up. I would still definitely try this recipe again as it’s a nice one to have in the repertoire of you don’t have cream in. 

Coffee Creams: Place a 250ml tin of evaporated milk in a saucepan of water (make sure it is covered by water) and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to cool in the tin. (This can take several hours) Then put in the fridge to chill completely. 

Mix 1oz cornflour with 1/4 pint milk. Make 1/2 pint strong coffee in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the cornflour and milk mixture and 2oz light brown sugar and whisk until thickened. Set aside to cool, covering the top with a damp piece of grease proof paper to prevent it forming a skin.

Pour the evaporated milk into a large mixing bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. Gradually add the coffee mixture, folding in well between additions. Spoon into serving glasses and chill before serving with a sprinkle of cocoa powder for decoration. 

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Ration Week: Day 3


Today started with potato cakes and an egg white and mushroom scramble. The powdered egg whites are the closest thing I’ve been able to find to dried egg, it’s just not something supermarkets stock anymore! They scrambled up pretty well, though!

Powdered Egg White Scramble: 1 sachet powdered egg white made up according to pocket instructions poured over dry fried mushrooms and very swiftly scrambled. 

The potato pancakes were fun, from the 3 medium potatoes I used I got about 12 pancakes! I snacked on them all day but I admit the birds appreciated the rest, tsk, tsk, food waste!

Potato Cakes: take leftover mashed potatoes and add self raising flour until you get a soft dough, almost a batter, (it will be very sticky!) for my 3 potatoes I needed 6oz flour. Melt 1tsp cooking fat in a large frying pan then dollop spoonfuls of mixture in well spaced. Let this cook for a minute then flip it over and press it down with the spatula to form a flat pancake. Cool until browned then flip over again and finish off the first side now it’s flat. You can see each stage above. 

Lunch was paste sandwiches. Things like sandwich pastes were available fairly readily in 1951. I went for chicken and crab as neither of these were rationed. The chicken was alright, nothing exciting but it filled a gap! The crab paste… Well, I’m just going to have to give up on English crab. I love Asian crab but after a lot of experimenting I just don’t like crab! Unfortunately, neither does Darcy so no one will be eating that crab paste!

This is my whole 4oz meat ration for the week. The butcher and I had a good chat about it and we decided that for one person mince was the only way to go. Not only was it cheap, it’s much easier to bulk it up, which is what I did! 

This is where things got real for me. I took a whole 5 minutes trying to decide whether to use my cooking fat (which is disappearing fast!) or go for margerine, which I had been saving for baking. I was standing there weighing up the pros and cons, thinking what I might want to use each for later in the week and wondering what I could do without. This is what women went through for 14 years! Trying to think and plan and scrimp and save and eke out every little bit from their rations. 

The finished result! Cottage pie! This was wonderfully filling, just what I needed after a whole day down the allotment.  It made the mince go an awful lot further than it would have otherwise and it was flavoursome and hearty. Definite comfort food! 

Cottage Pie: Melt 1 tsp cooking fat in a small pan, add 1/2 small onion, 1/2 carrot, 1/2 stick celery, some swede, salt and pepper and put the lid on. Allow it to sweat for a few minutes. Add the mince, half an oxo cube and a splash of water. Put the lid on and allow to simmer until all the veg is cooked. If it starts to stick then just add a splash more water. Put the cooked mixture into a single pie dish. Top with mashed potato (always make extra mash was one of the rules of rationing I think! And put under the grill to brown the top. Serve with more vegetables. 

Pudding nearly got forgotten about today as the dogs demanded a walk right after dinner, luckily I remembered to turn the oven off before I went, leaving my Apple Crisp to keep warm. Happily I remembered it before morning and it was still nice and hot. I served it with cold custard leftover from yesterday. 

I was raised in a custardless household as my parents were each scarred by childhood traumas and can’t stand the stuff. (Thanks to rationing!) Turns out I love the stuff! Hot or cold a tin of Bird’s custard is definitely going to be a permanent addition to my pantry!
Apple Crisp: Dice 2 apples, skins on. Put in a small oven proof bowl or pie dish. Drizzle with honey. Dot 1/2 oz margerine on top then cover with porridge oats. Drizzle the top with more honey. Bake in the oven for at least 30mins at gas 4 or higher. (Can go in with whatever you’re cooking for a main course and be forgotten about!) make sure you allow it to cool a bit before serving as it will be piping hot! 

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Ration Week

For the next week I’m going to be participating in a challenge with Beamish Museum to live on a diet of 1951 rations.  It should be a lot of fun and I’m going to be blogging about it daily.  Check the #rationweek on my social media for updates throughout the day too!

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I fully admit, I’m writing this while getting in a final plate of pasta and a few glasses of wine.  I’m normally quite an adventurous cook.  For me the challenge will be sticking to period appropriate recipes.  As my father said to me, “My mother was a plain cook but we never wanted for anything.” That’s the story I hear from everyone I’ve asked who remembers rationing, which only ended in 1954! They were never hungry but there just wasn’t the variety that there was today.  That and potatoes.  Potatoes in everything!   They weren’t rationed so they found their way into every meal of the day!

So, what was the 1951 ration?  For the challenge this week I will have:

Bacon and ham 4oz / 113g
Meat 4oz / 113g
Sugar 8oz / 226g
Tea 2oz / 57g
Cheese 2oz / 57g
Butter 2oz / 57g
Margarine 4oz / 113g
Cooking fat 4oz / 113g
Milk 3 pints
Eggs (number) 1
Sweets 3oz / 85g

Food obtained through the points system:

Either of (for the week)

– 1 can of meat or fish or

– 2lb (900g) dried fruit or

– 8lb (3.6kg) split peas or similar

Unrationed:

  • Bread
  • Potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Preserves
  • Vegetables – these should be based on what was generally grown at the time; carrots, turnips, cabbage (savoy and red), spring greens, kale, spinach, broccoli, beetroot, broad beans, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower , sea kale, peas, French and runner beans
  • Offal, sausages [4oz] and fish [6oz] (though these would all have been in fairly short supply).
  • Chicken, rabbit and game

As you can see, there’s a good amount of food there.  What I am worried about is the lack of meat and coffee.  I live off coffee!  Don’t get me wrong, tea is a wonderful beverage but my mornings just don’t start until that coffee has filtered into my bloodstream! Apparently you could get really bad instant coffee but my daily caramel latte will have to go!

One thing that really shocked me was that eggs were still rationed to 1 a week! I can quite easily go through 2 a day! So that constrains what type of baking you could do too.  One of my challenges this week is to try out some heritage baking recipes and see how they taste.   You could still get powdered egg and powdered milk, but as with everything, supplies were limited.  I live in the countryside so it was possible to supplement your egg ration with those from hens you kept yourself and I know my grandmother did so (this is also how our family got chicken meat!).  I keep quail so any eggs from them I’m going to include.


I’m lucky in that I grow my own veg down the allotment so I have a ready supply of everything that is in season.  There was a boom in allotments over the war years, thanks to the Dig For Victory campaign, which continued afterwards before tapering off again so growing your own vegetables to supplement what you could get in the shops wasn’t unusual.

One thing I am going to tweak is my sugar ration.  I’m thinking of cutting this in half.  The reason being that I already make a lot of my own preserves and cordials. The sugar for making those had to come from somewhere so you had to save your ration if you were going to do things like that with it.  However, I am also a beekeeper.  So I’m going to see how I can use honey as a sugar substitute to make up the loss.

Wish me luck! An if you have any food memories from 1951 please do share them!

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Gnocchi with Wild Garlic and Cream Sauce

If you’re quick you may just get to the last of the wild garlic in a shady spot.  The distinctive smell should guide you!

Gnocchi with Wild Garlic and Cream Sauce

This is a quick easy supper that takes advantage of the wild food available for such a short season. Although, I admit, I grow some ‘wild’ garlic in a container in my garden for convenience and I always find gnocchi very satisfying after a long day in the garden!

Gnocchi with Wild Garlic and Cream Sauce

Serves 2

1 pack gnocchi (I use giant gnocchi here but regular ones work just as well)
200ml double cream
2 tbsp green pesto
a good handful of wild garlic leaves, washed and slices into ribbons
4 tbsp* freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano *at least

  • Cook the gnocchi according to the packet instructions.
  • Gently heat the cream and pesto in a small saucepan.  Do not allow it to boil.
  • Add the garlic leaves and Parmigiano Reggiano and make sure it’s piping hot through.
  • Pour the sauce over the gnocchi in bowls.
  • Excellent with some crusty bread and a crisp Riesling after a long day in the garden!

 

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Rhubarb and Orange Frangipane Tart

The last of the home grown rhubarb is coming this month, after that you need to let the plants rest and regroup.  So I whipped up this Rhubarb and Orange Frangipane Tart to make the most of it while it’s still with us!

Rhubarb and Orange Frangipane Tart

The later season rhubarb isn’t as vibrantly coloured as the younger forced rhubarb you get at the beginning of the year, if you made it with that then this would really be a pink showstopper!  However, the regimented rows of rhubarb are very pleasing to me and the taste is amazing!

Rhubarb and Orange Frangipane Tart

The natural tartness of the rhubarb and the sweetness of the orange frangipane go together so well and make a wonderfully refreshing tart that’s full of flavour.

Rhubarb and Orange Frangipane Tart#

Makes 1 rectangular tart

One sheet ready rolled sweet shortcrust pastry (or make your own but I was short on time!)
~4 sticks rhubarb
85g butter, softened
85g caster sugar
1 egg
85g ground almonds
zest of one large orange, finely grated
1 tbsp caster sugar

  • Heat the oven to gas mark 7 and grease your loose bottomed rectangular tart tin well.
  • Shape and roll the pastry to fit (I had to trim a bit off the sides to make an extension, the scraps then went for jam tarts!)
  • Press the pastry into the tin carefully, leaving a small overhang around the edge.
  • Slice your rhubarb into batons the width of the inside of the pastry shell.
  • In a small mixing bowl combine the butter, sugar, egg, ground almonds and orange zest and beat until well combined and smooth.
  • Scrape the frangipane mixture into the pastry.
  • Place the rhubarb on top of the frangipane evenly.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tbsp sugar.
  • Bake for 30 minutes until the top of the frangipane is golden brown and the pastry an even colour.
  • Remove from the oven and trim away the excess pastry from the edges with a sharp knife.
  • Leave to cool completely in the tin then carefully unmould.
  • Serve with fresh clotted cream for a delightful afternoon treat!

 

 

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Filed under Moderately easy, quick, Teatime Treats

Farmhouse Butter Biscuits

A lovely simple biscuit, quick and easy to work with and it gives a delightfully crisp buttery biscuit.  Nothing fancy at all, as simple and wholesome as a biscuit can get! These biscuits remind me of some I had as a child at a farmhouse on the way to the lake district. There were no such things as hygiene certificates then, this was literally the farmer’s wife selling tea and biscuits in her kitchen and they were some of the best I’ve ever had!

Makes 18 biscuits

125g butter, softened
70g golden caster sugar (Plus a few tsp extra for sprinkling)
1 egg yolk
160g plain flour
small pinch of salt

  • Heat the oven to gas mark 5 and prepare two baking trays with baking paper.
  • Cream together the butter and the sugar in a small mixing bowl.
  • Add the egg yolk and beat well to combine.
  • Add the flour and the salt (if your flour is at all lumpy do sift it in as it will mix easier).
  • Bring all the ingredients together into a soft dough.  It can help to use your hand to get it all together in the last bit.
  • Pinch off small walnut sized balls of dough and roll them in your palms to shape into rounds.
  • Place on the baking tray and use the heel of your palm to squish them flat.
  • Sprinkle the tops with the extra sugar.
  • Bake for 10 minutes until the edges are just starting to colour.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to sit on the tray for 5 minutes before trying to move them as they will break otherwise.
  • Allow to cook on a wire rack.
  • Put on a pot of tea and enjoy!

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Filed under Cookies and Biscuits, Easy, quick