Sunday, 25 September 2011

Apple and almond cake bars

Gluten-free and rather yummy.

4 oz real butter (salted)
3 oz sugar
4 oz ground almonds
3 eggs
1 large cooking apple
1 oz sugar
Preheat oven to moderate. Grease a square or rectangular non-stick baking tin.
  1. Cream the butter with the 3 ozs of sugar.
  2. Stir in the ground almonds.
  3. Break the eggs into the mixture and beat them in.
  4. Peel and core the apple and slice it into a saucepan. Add the 1 oz of sugar.
  5. Put the pan on the heat and stew the apple until it is fluffy. Beat it to ensure it is all smooth.
  6. Take the stewed apple and (while still hot) pour it into the almond mixture. Stir it quickly into the mixture and beat it a bit to add some air.
  7. Pour the mixture into the greased tin.
  8. Bake in moderate oven for about 25 minutes.
  9. Cool in the tin and then cut into bars with a plastic spatula. Alternatively serve warm with custard for pudding.
For added interest add some lemon zest or pith, or cinnamon or ginger.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Oatcakes (wheat-free)

Yield: 20-24 oatcakes


250 g medium oatmeal or 250 g rolled oats
1 pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon lard or bacon fat, melted
hot water from the kettle (about 75 mi for oatmeal, about 200 ml for rolled oats)


  1. Preheat oven to 200C/400°F.
  2. Put the oats, salt and baking soda in a bowl.
  3. Make a well, pour in the lard and stirring with a wooden spoon, add in enough of the hot water to make a stiff dough.
  4. Knead it for a while to make it come smoothly together, then roll out as thinly as you can.
  5. Cut into triangles or rounds.
  6. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are turning golden-brown and the oatcakes themselves are firm (they'll crisp up on cooling).
  7. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Chocolate Krispies

To make 5 large bars or ten little nests (double this if you are having hungry friends round!)

 1 oz butter
1 oz (1 tbsp) castor sugar
2 oz (1 tbsp) golden syrup
3/4 oz (1 level tbsp) cocoa powder
1 1/2 oz (7 tbsp) rice pops

Optional: 1 tsp grated orange peel


  1. Melt the butter in a pan and add the syrup and the sugar. Stir until the mixture is smooth. Add the cocoa powder and mix well.
  2. Fold in the rice pops (add the orange peel now if available).
  3. Mix until the rice is well coated. Turn out into a non-stick loaf tin and press down with the backs of your fingers. Alternatively form into nests or clumps in paper cake cases.
  4. Allow to cool. 
  5. Cut the block into bars when almost cool, using a plastic spatula.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Elderflower champagne

2 Heads of fresh young elderflower (maybe a few more?)
2 lbs white sugar
2 lemons, rind and juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 gallon of cold water

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl or basin (not made of metal).
  2. Allow to stand for 24 hours
  3. Strain and bottle in clean (or sterile) strong bottles suited to high pressure fizz.
  4. Label the bottles and leave for at least two weeks before serving.
Elderflowers appear in early to mid May. The champagne should be ready to serve with strawberries in June.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Rust mould on laundry

This is not a recipe for something to eat but I thought it might be useful!

Rust mould is those mysterious orange/brown rusty spots that appear on cotton clothes, mainly white ones, after they've been washed. It appears (so far as I can access any competent scientific information) that it may be the effect of iron in the hard water oxidising.

  1. Avoid chlorine bleach and washing powders with chlorine bleach in. This apparently increases the chances of rust mould occurring and sets the stains so they won't come out easily. 
  2. In some places there is often chlorine in the tap water, so the problem can be aggravated by that. < The problem occurs more often when the fabrics are left lying around wet, or left to soak for a long time.
  3. If you've left something wet or to soak, check it before or after washing. It's best to treat the stain while wet rather than let it dry first.


  1. Put lemon juice on the stain, either by squeezing half a lemon and dabbing it on the fabric, or by rubbing a slice of lemon on the fabric until the cloth is wet with lemon juice.
  2. Put the garment out in the sun, or in a bright place where the  sun shines in and leave it to dry.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until the stain is removed.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Ginger beer: setting up the plant

You need:
A jam jar
Dried yeast (i guess fresh yeast would do)
Ground ginger

Put about a teaspoonful of dried yeast in the jam jar.
Add water, to fill the jam jar about 3/4 full.
Add a teaspoonful of sugar.
Add about 2 tsp ground ginger.

Let the mixture stand at room temperature. After a short while it will send up a lot of froth.
If that happens you are all set. If it doesn't, well, probably the stuff is dead, and you need to get some better yeast.

Feed your plant daily in accordance with the instructions for the ginger beer (in another post).

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Chicken Brick recipes / instructions

The whole brick should be soaked in cold water for about 15 minutes. Give it a good scrub. To cook your chicken you will require no fats, but brushing with olive oil before seasoning is recommended. According to taste, the inside of the brick can be rubbed with a clove of garlic before cooking each time to improve the flavour of the bird or meat being cooked. This is of course optional.

The brick containing the bird or meat should be placed in a cold oven which is then set at a high temperature (250C, 500F, Gas Mark 9). The time for cooking 1.5 hours for a 3lbs. bird or meat and pro rata - your brick size will determine weight limits. The bird will brown without basting during its cooking period. The juices obtained can of course be used to advantage.

To clean the brick after use, a solution of hot water with two teaspoons of salt or vinegar, and then a thorough washing with hot water, is all that is needed. Do not use detergents as the taste will remain in the clay.

The chicken should be cooked as described. Stuffing of herbs, herbs, and a few mushrooms are useful additions [double herbs as per the original leaflet! - ed.]

Cook the same as chickens but additionally wrap each bird in a bacon rasher and season with thyme. Serve with potatoes or rice and salad or vegetables.

Prepare brick. Incise the pork skin and stick with lemon rind and pieces of garlic. Season with rosemary or thyme. Remove the juice and place meat on serving dish (warmed). Remove fat from the juice, add half a glass white wine or cider and boil for 2 minutes. Pour over meat and serve.

Beef, lamb and other joints can be similarly treated - varying or omitting the seasoning as required.

Ham: 3lbs.
Soak ham overnight. Place in a saucepan with 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 sticks celery, 4 allspice and 6 black peppercorns. Bring to the boil very gently and simmer for 45-60 mins, depending on the weight of the ham. Prepare the brick. A crust for the ham now has to be made. A breakfast-cup of fresh breadcrumbs and a dessertspoon of mustard (ideally Dijon) together with a little cider should be mixed to a paste. The ham should now be peeled, the fat should be stuck with 10 cloves and the breadcrumb mixture spread over it. Place ham in the brick and ook for about 1.5 hours. Pour off excess fat and replace with cider or fruit juice and serve.

Large brick needed. Treated the same way as chickens but taking a lot longer to cook. Ideally stuffed with chestnuts, sausage meat and gammon.

As chicken. A goose of small size could be cooked in the large brick.

Experiments can be very rewarding and the suggestions above can of course be varied accordingly.