Madeleine

  • Hold onto Autumn and use your stored pumpkin for this lovely recipe...

    Autumn_Leaf_in_leaf_litterLashing rain from frequent storms makes it feel like Autumn is over.  In Greek mythology, Autumn began when Persephone was abducted by Hades to be the Queen of the Underworld. In distress Persephone's mother, Demeter who was goddess of the harvest, caused all the crops on Earth to die until her daughter was allowed to return, marking spring.

    I think maybe it is more to do with temperatures dropping and chlorophyll in leaves declining allowing us to see the other chemicals present but it's a nice story!

    Regardless of its origins Autumn is when the mercury drops and we can think of soup.  Lovely thick soup, warm chunky bread and melting butter. And if you have pumpkins stored in your Haxnicks Veg Sacks  its time to get one out an warm up the advancing winter.

    And what better ingredient than pumpkin?  It is perfect for adding body and a creamy texture to soup.  It is also low in saturated fat, very low in cholesterol and high in fibre not to mention it packs a punch in cold fighting super heroes like Vitamin C.    An all round super food so here is my very simple to make take on the recipe.

    Pumpkin Soup

    Preparation: 30 – 35 minutes Cooking time: 45 – 55 minutes Serves: 6 – 8

    Ingredients:pile_of_pumpkins

    2lbs (900g) pumpkins

    2 medium sized onions

    2 tbs olive oil

    1 1/2 pints (700ml) stock

    6 floz (150ml) double cream

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Sprig of parsley to decorate

     

    Directions:

    1. Chop and fry the onions gently with the olive oil in a pan large enough to take the entire soup.
    2. Deseed and chop the pumpkin into little chunks, add these to the frying pan. Cook gently stirring occasionally for a further 5 – 10 minutes.
    3. Add the stock, salt and pepper and bring to the boil for about 10 minutes.
    4. Add the cream and boil again.
    5. Now put the whole lot into the liquidiser and whizz until smooth.
    6. Serve with a few parsley leaves placed on top, hot, with delicious fresh bread on a cold winters day.

    For a printable PDF click here Pumpkin Soup 

     
  • Halloween special... Pumpkin Pie anyone?

    From the pictures on Social Media it appears that this was a bumper year for pumpkins and squashes.  I am sure that this was not without its difficulties, particularly keeping them watered in the long hot summer.  Not something we have cause to worry about often!  But the results speak for themselves so I am sure that there are many of you in need of another pumpkin recipe so here it is.

    Pumpkin Pie topped with Pecans

    Some say pumpkins are not that flavoursome however, after spending hours hollowing them out at Halloween you can’t possibly let all that free food go to waste! So I have this recipe for a sweet pumpkin pie that makes a change from what you eat during the year.

    This pie can be eaten hot or cold, and is rather nice with cream, ice cream or crème fresh. Delish!

    Ingredients

    Filling                                                                                           Pastry

    2 eggs                                                                        6oz 170g plain flour

    2 tablespoons soft dark brown sugar                                  2oz 50g icing sugar

    1 can sweetened condensed milk                                         5oz 140g salted butter

    400g pumpkin flesh                                                                  1-2 tbsp. cold water

    50g plain flour

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

    100g pecan halves broken into little bits

    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking Time: 45 minutes Serves: 6-8

    1. Firstly make the pastry: Sieve the flour and icing sugar into a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water to make a good dough, do not overwork the pastry.
    2. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave in the fridge for 15- 20 minutes.
    3. Grease a 9”, 23cm diameter pie tin and place in fridge.
    4. Turn the oven on to 190°C, gas mark 5.
    5. Now for the filling. Cut the pumpkin flesh into thin slivers or little squares ½ cm x ½ cm.
    6. In a separate bowl place ALL the other ingredients and mix hard with a wooden spoon until you have a gooey consistency.
    7. Add the pumpkin pieces and mix in.
    8. Get the pastry and tin from the fridge. Roll out the pastry to fit the tin then add the filling ingredients - If there is too much mixture you can always bake it in a little ramekin and cook separately.
    9. Lastly, put your pecan nuts into a bowl and bash with the end of the rolling pin until they are the size you want them.  I like little chips.  Then sprinkle them on top of the pie and place the pie into the oven for 35-45 minutes.

    For a printable copy click here Pumpkin Pie topped with Pecans

  • Making your Garden Season Last as Long as Possible

    Flower_in_need_of_dead_heading_fall_seasonThe temperatures are dropping and growth is slowing down.  But there are still some things that you can do in the garden to prolong the flowers and keep active outside this season.

    Its tempting to think that the fat lady has sung and you can hang up your boots for the year.  The weather is still very dry though so don’t give up yet on watering your plants, especially the ones in pots.

    If you deadhead your flowers such as roses, antirrhinums, lupins or sweet peas, they may still produce a few more flowers.

     

    seed_pods_with_seed_on_table_harvest_season

    If some of your dead heads are looking nice and dry you can collect their seeds to sow next spring. I often go to other peoples gardens and see flowers that I want for my own garden and collect them.  Different lavenders, hollyhocks, delphiniums people don't tend to mind…..

    You can still sow things too like herbs and winter salads.  I cleared away a nice spot in the greenhouse the other day in order to sow some coriander and lettuce.  The chicken thought that this was an extremely comfy new armchair that I had made her though! So I have sown the seeds into some recycled plastic ‘seed trays’ and will move them on later.

    Seeds_planted_in_plastic_trays_planting_season

  • Chillies too hot to handle and coming out of your ears...

    Chillli~-jam-in_silver-panThe hot hot hot weather has lead to a bumper crop of chillies this year and some gardeners are finding them just too hot to handle.  Having eaten them every day since August and made Chilli Sauce, Chilli flakes, Chilli truffles and 3 types of Chilli Oil here is a new recipe to help use the glut.

    Chillies and tomatoes are great to grow but difficult to keep for long, so if you would like to remember your summer fruits from the garden chilli jam is an excellent and delicious memory. Great in a cheese sandwich, fried up with chicken or you could put a couple of teaspoons in your soup to spice it up.

    Chilli Jam

    Ingredients:

    8 red peppers.
    10 red chillies.
    1 finger-sized piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
    8 cloves of garlic
    14oz (400g) of fresh tomatoes chopped – or a 400g tin of cherry tomatoes
    1lbs 8oz (750g) Preserving sugar this also helps not to make the jam too runny
    7 floz (200ml) red wine vinegar

    Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking time: 60 – 90 minutes

    Directions:

    1. Cut up your peppers and chillies keeping the chilli seeds but not the pepper ones. Put them into the food processor along with the garlic and ginger.
    2. Scrape into a heavy-bottomed pan with the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar, then bring everything to the boil.
    3. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally – skim off any scum that comes to the surface.
    4. Once the jam becomes sticky, continue cooking for 10-15 minutes more, stirring frequently
    so that it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. It should now look like thick, bubbling lava.
    5. Cool slightly, transfer into sterilised jars, cover with lids straight away to create a vacuum, then leave to cool completely.
    6. Keeps for 3 – 12 months in a cool, dark cupboard - once you have opened it keep it in the fridge.

    For a printable version click here Chilli_Jam 

  • Fancy some foraging? Bramble is the best free food...

    Blackberry or bramble...  Love them or hate them?

    In my garden they are a BIG nuisance, terribly invasive they've overtaken the edges of the garden and each year they creep further towards the house.  Much as I dislike them at home, in the hedgerow on my leisurely stroll to work they are different,  Here they are an abundant gift from Mother Nature which will provide all sorts of treats when teamed with the thousands of apples that have come off my tree this year.

     

  • Is this pudding the best thing about summer?

    Summer Pudding or Summer Fruit Pudding is a British dessert traditionally made of sliced white bread, layered in a deep bowl with fruit and fruit juice. The first reference to it as Summer Pudding in print was in 1904, but identical recipes for the much less catchy soiunding 'hydropathic pudding' can be found as far back as 1868.  You can of course still make it with stale bread but for a little extra indulgence my recipe uses brioche to add a buttery softness.

    So, I use strawberries, raspberries and currants Lone-raspberrybecause that's what I grow but if you have been more adventurous and have tayberries, loganberries, cherries or blueberries then these could be used too and have your children proclaiming that their family "make it with Tayberries and its simply the best!"  Nothing like creating a new family classic!

     

    Summer Pudding—using brioche

    This has got to be one of my best recipes; it is so easy and delicious. I make a lot of these in the summer with my children.  They feel so important to have made such a great pudding. You can use a variety of fruits, I always think it is nice to have a few blackcurrants as they are very flavoursome against the gentleness of the raspberries. Of course you can use some fruit that you have frozen to mix with the fruit that is in season.

     

    Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking time: 5 minutes

    Waiting time: min 3 hours Serves: 6 – 8

     

    Ingredients:

    2lbs (900g) soft fruits, raspberries,summer-pudding-with mint-on-top

    strawberries, blackberries, white/black/redcurrants...

    6oz (150g) caster sugar

    6 – 8 slices of Brioche

     

     

    Directions:

    1. Use a soufflé dish or pudding basin; cover the bottom of it and the sides with slices of
      brioche.
    2. Hull* the strawberries.
    3. Put the fruit into a pan with the sugar on a low heat, until the fruit has softened for 4 – 5 minutes.
    4. Take it off the heat and spoon out the fruit leaving most of the juices in the pan.
    5. Cover the top of the fruit with more brioche and pour the remaining juice on top of that.
    6. Put a plate that fits into the bowl on top and weigh it down with some kind of weight.
    7. Put it in the fridge for 3 hours – overnight is best.
    8. Finally, just before you are ready to serve, take it out of the fridge.  Take off the plate and the weight, loosen the edges gently and turn it out onto a serving plate.
    9. Perfect served cold with a splash of cream.

     

    * Hull means to take the stalks off the strawberries.

    For a printable copy click here Summer Pudding 

  • Fluffy, melt in the mouth potato scones for dinner anyone?

    I am about to harvest my second lot of potatoes - tonight if the rain stays away long enough.  And I am planning a frenzy of potato related cookery to celebrate starting with these light and fluffy Potato Scones.  Perfect for breakfast with a nice fried egg and some good brown fruity sauce but just as at home served at a dinner party.

    Potato Scones

    This recipe for Potato Scones is a newish one to me, but a brilliant find. Anything different to do with potatoes is always interesting. My children love these and so do I.  Because they are filling I almost feel as if they are a meal in themselves. They are rather smarter than plain ordinary mash, and go really well with either sausages or something special like poached salmon.

    Preparation: 10 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes

     

    Makes: 10 – 12 scones

     

    Ingredients:Pile_of_Small_potato_scones

    5 medium sized potatoes

    1 tbsp butter

    2oz (50g) plain flour

    Salt and pepper

    1 tbsp olive oil

     

     

     

     

    Directions:

    1. Firstly peel, cook and mash the potatoes.

    2. Add the butter to the potatoes and mix until melted.

    3. Add enough flour to make the mixture pliable like dough.

    4. Make up 8cm x 1.5cm (3 x 1/2”) rounds, you should be able to make about 10 or 12 of these.

    5. Prick the surface of each scone with a fork – this allows the heat through to the centre of the scone, when cooking it.

    6. Meanwhile heat up a frying pan with just a little olive oil, covering the bottom.

    7. Place the scones in the pan and fry them gently for about 3 minutes on each side.

    8. Best served hot.

     

    I do hope that you enjoy these fluffy little morsels .  For a printable copy of the recipe click here.

  • Aaaaaaaargh! Too many courgettes!

    Dear Deidre

    I have too many courgettes!  I mean so many that even my neighbours pretend to be out when I stagger up to their drive under the weight of the copious courgettes.  What am I to do?  No one likes marrows (well sometimes but if I can't give away courgettes I won't be welcome with marrow!) I need a solution fast - Anon

    If you have the same problems as our friend Anon then do not fear I have two excellent courgette recipes for you.  The first is for dainty little Courgette Appetizers and the second is for Stuffed Courgette Flowers. (I also have a marrow recipe but will save that for another day!)

    Courgette Appetizers

    These appetizers can either be used as a starter or as a canapé, you can make them into little mouthfuls or you can make them larger and use a knife and fork to eat them. They are healthy – gluten free – and it is another brilliant way to use up any excess courgettes. Here we have used mint but you could try other herbs if you so wish.

    Preparation: 15 minutes Cooking time: 10 minutes Serves: 6 as a starter

    courgette-flowersIngredients:

    2 medium sized courgettes

    6oz (175g) goats cheese

    Handful of mint leaves

    Olive oil

    A sprinkle of salt

    Directions:

    1. With a potato peeler or even a cheese slicer, peel thick ribbons of courgette, making a courgette rasher, like bacon.
    2. Chop the mint leaves into little bits.
    3. Slice the goats cheese into a size that will fit well when wound up by the courgette rasher.
    4. Get the cheese, a sprinkle of mint and wrap the courgette around it. You may want to hold it together with a cocktail stick.
    5. Put in a baking tray and drizzle or brush a little olive oil over it. Sprinkle a little salt on top too.
    6. Put in a medium oven for 10 minutes until slightly browned and the cheese has melted.

    Stuffed Courgette/Squash Flowers (Deep Fried)

    You can only really make these canapé’s/starters when the courgettes and squashes are in flower. You will also find it almost impossible to buy the flowers anywhere, so they really do have to come from your own garden. It is just a question of how many you can get in one go to make them worth cooking.

    Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking time: 10 – 15 minutes Serves: 6

    Ingredients:

    12 courgette/squash flowers

    1 medium courgette

    1 tbsp olive oil

    Small handful of basil or thyme

    4oz (100g) feta, goats or mozzarella cheese

    Salt and pepper

    About 2pts (1ltr) of sunflower oil for frying in

    1 lemon

    3oz (75g) plain flour

    Pinch of salt

    1 egg yolk

    6floz (175ml) ice-cold fizzy water or beer!

    Directions:

    1. Make the batter first by sifting the flour and salt into a bowl, make a well in the flour, then add the egg yolk and the fizzy water/beer.
    2. Whisk it all up until it is smooth and place in the fridge until needed.
    3. Put the sunflower oil into a deep pan for frying, it must be about 8cm (4”) deep, and heat.
    4. Check the courgettes flowers for unwanted insects and remove the pistils, as they are very bitter.
    5. Make the filling for the flowers:• Pour a tbsp of olive oil into a frying pan. Add grated courgettes and fry them until soft.• Chop the cheese into little bits and put into a bowl.• Finely chop the basil or thyme whichever herb you choose and add this to the cheese.• Add the fried courgette and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix it up.• Spoon this into the courgette flowers. Coat the flowers with batter.
    6. Immediately place the gooey ‘things’ into the very hot pan of oil for approximately 1 – 2 minutes until golden brown.
    7. Take them out of the oil with a slotted spoon and let them sit on some kitchen paper to cool and drain off the fat for about 3 – 5 minutes.
    8. Cut the lemon into wedges to serve alongside the still hot stuffed flowers.

    For a printable pdf for both of these recipes please click Courgette Recipes

  • A delicious way to use a glut of fruit or windfall apples...

    This tart can be made with apples, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberries..... or a mix of fruits. It is a cooked tart with a custard filling, that can be eaten hot or cold. Once you have made it once, you will definitely want to make it again, and of course it will be easier the next time round.

    The trick to a good pastry is not to over handle it and to make sure that it is cold before putting it in the oven. Hence the reason I keep mentioning to put it in the fridge.

    Tarte Francaise 

    Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes Serves: 6Tarte-francaise-apples-raspberries

     Ingredients:

    5oz (125g) plain flour

    11/2oz (30g) icing sugar

    3oz (75g) butter

    A small amount of cold water

    3 medium sized cooking apples

    4oz (100g) raspberries – or another cooking apple

    5 floz (150ml) milk

    2 floz (50ml) cream

    1 large egg

    2oz (50g) caster sugar

     Directions:

    1. Grease your 9” flan tin well. Put it in the fridge.
    2. Put the flour, icing sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour to make a fine breadcrumb texture. Add enough cold water very carefully to make a firm dough. If you put too much water in add a little more flour.
    3. Roll it out and place in the cold baking tin. Put in fridge.
    4. Turn the oven on to180° /350°/ Gas mark 4.
    5. Peel, core and slice the apples.
    6. Prettily place the apples on the pastry, then add the raspberries. Put in fridge.
    7. In a measuring jug put the milk, cream, egg and sugar. Whisk until well mixed.
    8. Pour over the pastry and fruit.
    9. Put in the oven for about 30 minutes.
    10. When serving cold, it is nice to sieve a little icing sugar on the top as a decoration.

    For a downloadable pdf click Tarte Française 

  • Where will next year's flowers come from?

    The answer is seed harvesting and it couldn’t be simpler.

    Summer’s in full swing and flowers are abundant, but many of the flowers have finished blooming now.  Life lives on though, as the seeds are there for the next sowing.

    Collecting them couldn’t be simpler, just break/cut off their heads and either turn them upside down give them a good shake or prise the seeds out gently. If they don’t fall off easily it means that they are not ready yet. I wait until the flower heads are really dry, then it is easier.

    Today's haul

    flower-seed-in-bowls Today's harvest is next summer's flowers

    Today as an example I have collected allium, cornflower and aquilegia seeds, they will go into envelopes and in the autumn I will sow the perennials*, in the Spring I will sow the annuals.  Make sure you keep the seeds you collect dry and remember to plant them when the time comes!

    Not sure about perennials and annuals? Check out the difference here

     

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