Tuesday 23 November 2010

Lotte’s Country Kitchen

Dodie's Chocolate Torte

Lotte’s Country Kitchen by Lotte Duncan. This is a new book which came out at the end of the Summer this year, and I’d been looking forward to it for ages. Some of the ladies and myself, from a food forum we all belong to, helped to test a few of the recipes for Lotte, and it was fun to do so.
Anyhow, I would have been looking forward to it even if I hadn’t helped, as I’ve looked before online for a number of years to try and find a book by Lotte. Anyone who used to watch Good Food show on the food channel as it was will remember Lotte, she always made dishes that I thought I’d like to give a try and seemed like a fun and vivacious girl into the bargain.
Lotte’s food is primarily from this country, and it’s refreshing I think to see someone pioneer British or English cooking. Not that she is the first to do so, by any means; but she is really good at making traditional dishes suitable for our tastes now, while giving more than a passing nod to what is good about our traditional food and cooking.
The book is presented divided into months, and is therefore pretty seasonal. There isn’t a lot of baking recipes, but the ones that there are look lovely. What there is though, are loads of main courses, lunches and glorious puddings to get your taste buds watering. Lotte has a fun writing style, and my family were in stitches when I read aloud the bit about her two cats! Anyhow it’s a great book, and one that I have a feeling will creep it’s way into my favourites with ease. I’m certain there will be a second helping post about this book in the future.
A lovely gift too for a food loving friend. Well, in my opinion anyhow, and you know me, I do love a good cookbook!!
Here are some of the dishes I’ve cooked so far. I’ve also made fish pie with the girls, lamb with plums and rosemary dumplings and smoked haddock & spring onion stuffed potatoes. Lovely and divine they all were too.

Cheeky Olives
These are tasty little savoury morsels, just the thing to nibble on.

Cheesy Biscuits
Seriously addictive! I like them best just cooled, fresh, out of the oven. I tried to make mine look like sand dollars, but sprinkling them would also be just the thing. I’m not sure what came over me…

Autumn Chicken Pie
You would not believe the difference the butternut squash made to this pie, yum!

Daisy’s Banana Bread
A classic banana bread.

Dodie's Chocolate Torte
Rich, but delicious, I needed to put my chocolate cream in the fridge before spreading it onto the bottom layer.

Annie's Rose Chicken
Creamy, subtle and good.

Chocolate Mess
What a cheat this one is, as Lotte freely admit, but honestly it didn’t taste like it! Mmmm.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Nigella Kitchen, Second Helpings

Salty Crunchy Peanut Bars
Here is the next Nigella instalment, cooked from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen, Recipes from the Heart of the Home. Having fun cooking through this huge book.
Are you watching the TV series? I am and liking it a lot. Looking forward to this weeks episode, where Grasshopper Pie is on the menu, can’t wait to try that one. Also have my liquid smoke (from Ebay) to try the Texas Brisket and the silicone cheesecake mould for the chocolate peanut butter cheesecake (£4.99 in Lidl). Not had much success with the sweet Korean chilli paste. Tried to get it on Ebay, but as far as the seller and myself could work out, it seems to be illegal to post it to this country. My local shop is currently out of stock, so will have to wait until it comes back in, ah well, that much be the Nigella effect for you!

These ware somewhere between a blondie and a flapjack, the chocolate chips gave them an extra flavour burst, lovely!
Lime Pie
Hubby loved this pie! It was good, I liked it best a couple of days after making, the flavours all melded together so well by then. Also added a half cup of sugar to the filling, and it still had a real lime-y bite to it.
Vietnamese Pork Noodle Soup
Really healthy and so filling!

Apricot Chicken
I changed this about a bit – added more jam and less mustard, and we liked it.

Coconut Rice
This didn’t come out quite as I’d expected it, bit stodgy, will give it another go in a different pan.

Swedish Summer Cake
You have to make this on the day you serve it, but it’s a real winner, we all loved it. I split the cake in two as opposed to the suggested three, as it just seemed too high stress to try and get a thin-ish cake cut into three, maybe that's just me though. This will be a Summer event for us now, much like a buche de Noel at Christmas time.

BBQ Mince
Another winner. A different but yummy way with mince for tea.

Strawberry Crumble
We were divided on this one, half loved and half weren’t so sure!

Teriyaki Chicken
Good, quick weeknight supper this one, I thickened the sauce a little with cornflour, as we like a thicker sauce.

Salty Crunchy Peanut Bars
I used half 70% and half milk Lindt (I’m not being given anything to say this!!) and liked the result. It is a weird combination, but it works on a few levels, chocolate – peanut, chocolate – Crunchie (or Violet Crumbles) and an amazing sweet – salt pull in your mouth as you munch. It works. Don’t make this one if you are on a diet, it just finds it’s way into your hands to eat!!

Monday 27 September 2010

Nigella's Red Velvet Cupcakes and Tate & Lyle Sugars

Red Velvet Cupcakes

A little while ago I was emailed and asked if I would like a sample of some of Tate and Lyle’s Fairtrade sugars. I have used this brand for years, and love the quality of their products – so ’m very happy feature them here.

The batter This is the sample package I received, Icing Sugar, Caster Sugar, Fondant Icing sugar and Granulated Sugar. The only one I’ve not used before is the fondant one, but I have a friend who has had great success with it, and I’m looking forward to trying it. Thank you to Tate & Lyle for my samples.

Sugars and Baked Cupcakes I chose to make Red Velvet Cupcakes from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen, Recipes from the Heart of the Home. This is not the first version of red velvet I’ve made, but it’s the one I’m going to stick with. I love it when I find a ‘best of its kind’ recipe, and this is certainly that for me. This has been requested as a bithday cupcake already! If Nigella cooks this on her TV programme I’ll edit this post and link the recipe for you. It used some of my Caster Sugar and Icing Sugar very nicely thank you.

Half frosted Anyhow Tate and Lyle have a great website here and a new Facebook Page here called We Love Baking, which looks good – I’ve ‘Liked’ it for sure.
Ready to eat!

Tuesday 7 September 2010

It's Here! It's Here! - Nigella Kitchen

Fuss Free Fruit Tart
Well the wait is over, Kitchen, Recipes from the Heart of the Home by Nigella Lawson is here! I have so anticipated this new book, that at times I’ve wondered if it would be possible for it to live up to the thing I have built it up to in my mind. It does though, more than even. So many recipes, so many pictures, even some step by step ones and many of Nigella too. The book is divided into two parts Kitchen Quandries and Kitchen Comforts. The recipes are really varied, and there are so many of them. Loads of writing too, so it’ll be a book to read as well as cook from.
I don’t want to give you a blow by blow book review here, I’d rather leave a lot to the imagination, so that if you do buy it, or get it as a gift – it’ll still be a wonderful surprise for you. I hope you understand, I’ve not gone all lazy, I’m trying to be considerate! If you like How To Eat or Feast, then you’ll like this one, it’s similar, but a whole lot more too.
I was going to hold off a little while before posting about some of my first makes, but I couldn’t. Particularly since the forum has gone on Nigella.com I need to share my joy =) In my 'Books Cooked from So Far' column at the side I'm listing this as "Nigella Kitchen", and that's how I think of it. I’ll do a little project of this book, looking forward to it!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
About an hour hout of the oven these are just perfection, crispy on the outside and cooked, but chewy on the inside. Mmmm.
Marmalade Pudding Cake
This is a dish-bound pudding cake, that is baked in the oven, but tastes like a light steamed pudding. I wouldn’t have believed a baked sponge could taste like a steamed one, but it does, there is no denying it. I used a mild mannered marmalade (golden shred) and it was really very delicious indeed! Leftovers can be used for a plate trifle… next time. Mine became quite dark on the top, but there was no burned taste, just in colour. I’ll cover it next time though, so it’s more golden. Recipe here at the Daily Mail.

Date Steak
Oh my goodness! This was incredibly delicious. I’d have bought the book for the recipe for this alone. I made it with fillet steak, as that is our preference, hubby said he would have paid £20plus in a restaurant for it. It was a super treaty Saturday night supper for us. I don’t expect Nigella reads my blog, but thank you for a truly fabulous recipe Nigella anyway!

Salami Pasta
This was ok, not a wow for us, apparently we don’t like beans with our pasta! Mind you it’s the only one form this batch of pictures I wouldn’t make again.

Sunshine Soup
Or sweetcorn and roasted pepper soup. Sweet, savoury and a little bite with some sweetcorn kernels. My little one emptied the soup bowl. I have some more in the freezer too, result.

Fuss Free Fruit Tart
Very pretty this one, we thought there was a bit too much biscuit crust, but the filling is gorgeous will use it again, either on the cheesecake base from Express or an M&S tart base, to be inkeeping with the ease of the recipe.
Crustless Pizza
This is a fast filling little number. A crustles pizza seems to be somewhere between an oven baked pancake and cheesy Yorkshire pudding. We all liked it, and I am avoiding yeast just now, so it was nice for me to have a sort-of-pizza. Will top it differently next time. A perfect quick weekend just us lunch with some salad.
The bits and pieces
The chicken and veggies plus warmed tortillas
Chicken Fajitas
A good family supper, nice as everyone can pick and choose. I made this last night, on a busy Monday night, half hour of preparation for much reward. I even managed to use my party set which I was given as a birthday gift last year. I used a red onion to have a little extra colour, although I only did this because I happened to have one.

Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream
A lovely zingy spin on a flour less chocolate cake, it’s almost unbelievable how one juicy lime can give such a lot of flavour to a cake. The margarita cream was divine, and I say this as someone who wouldn’t drink the cocktail. The cream would make a glorious pudding in a pretty glass with a biscuit on its own. Recipe here on Nigella.com.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Teaching Dad to Cook Flapjack and a Stunning Blackberry Clafoutis Recipe

Teaching Dad to Cook Flapjack by Miranda Gardiner. I stumbled across this book by accident online. I’m getting good at not buying absolutely every single cookbook that takes my eye now, but this one made me click the add to basket button. The cover to me is sort of serene, but still pretty with the fish drawings and also says fun with the cute moose and snail cookie cutters. There are two new designs to look out for! Image of book cover via courtesy of Amazon.co.uk
A few years ago I wouldn’t have been keen at all to admit I’d bought a book on the basis of it’s cover. As I’ve become older though, I’ve come to appreciate that a good cover, particularly on a book by an unknown author is key if the marketing department at the publishers is to entice the target audience.
It’s somehow a Summery book, even thought there are several recipes suited to colder weather cooking. The recipes I’ve been most drawn to so far are the baking and salad-y ones. Maybe that’s down to the time of year and warmer weather.
The book came into being when the author’s Mother passed away, leaving her Father widowed and not very able to feed himself. Miranda gathered together recipes to give to her Father, to help him look after his daily food needs, and so the book took shape.
The chapters are eclectic and include ‘Mid-week Morsels’ and ‘Well Loved Food’. Simple layout, the recipes are intercepted by text about life from the author, most of which is a pleasant enough read.
There are lots of very calming pictures of the food with pretty and atmospheric scenery. I like that there are some real time real cooking pictures too.
Some of the other recipes I’ve book-marked are: Beetroot, feta and clementine salad, Finnish salad with orange blossom dressing, Pumpkin soup with black olive and feta quesadillas, Mum’s Danish apple charlotte, Zesty pistachio & polenta cake and Rose petal and buttermilk cake.
As always here are some of the dishes I’ve cooked, I also made Jean-Christophe Novelli’s lemsip - it definitely helped the sniffles away!

First class porridge, I made it with Channel Island Jersey milk, and it was so good. Blueberries and honey or agave nectar – the best! I got this honey locally and it’s delicious.

Dreamy Prawn Gnocchi
An unusual prawn dish with the comfort of gnocchi and cream, but also interest from mixed seeds and spinach.

Naked Broad Bean Salad
A beautiful salad, both to eat and look at too.

Chocolate Caramel Muffins
Chocolate muffins made with ricotta and Cadburys caramel as the chunks. I wasn’t keen on these the day they were made, but the day after they were good – the tastes all melded together then.

Chewy Flapjack
An ultra sweet and chewy flapjack, the flapjack lover in my house was very pleased indeed!

Caramel Salties
Blondies with dulce de leche, white chocolate and sea salt. The smell in the kitchen was so delicious the day I baked these. I used less salt though – just a slight sprinkle of Maldon instead or the 2-3 teaspoons suggested in the recipe. Good the day made and the day after too.

Blackberry and Sour Cream Clafoutis
This is a seriously fabulous pudding, easy fruity and delicious. I’ve made clafoutis many times before, but this recipe is the keeper, and hands down the best of any I’ve made or tasted.

This is my slight reworking of Miranda Gardiner’s recipe from Teaching Dad to Cook Flapjack, published by Hardie Grant Books (London) Limited in 2010.
Serves 4

350g blackberries
2 tablespoons plain flour, slightly rounded
4 good tablespoons caster sugar
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
125g sour cream (weighed)
icing sugar to decorate, optional
thick double cream to serve

1.Preheat the oven to 170oC fan/ 180oC/ gas mark 4.
2.You’ll need a round baking dish of about 20cm – 25cm. Butter the dish and arrange to fruit over the bottom of the dish.
3. In a bowl whisk together the flour, caster sugar, vanilla extract and sour cream to make a smooth batter.
4. Pour the batter carefully over the fruit, then bake for 20 to 35 minutes, or until cooked. It should be golden, puffy and beautiful. I cook this in my fan oven for 20 minutes, your oven might need the longer cooking time, check after 20 minutes though. Dust with icing sugar if you like and serve with cream.