Friday, 20 December 2013

Vegetable pie

First, make either shortcrust pastry, or puff pastry:

Shortcrust pastry:

  • 8 oz / 200g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 oz / 100 g margarine
  • 2-3 tbsp cold water
  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Chop the margarine up into small pieces, add them to the bowl and rub in carefully using your fingertips, until you obtain breadcrumb consistency.
  2.  Make a well in the mixture and pour in 2 tbsp cold water. Mix with a knife and then your hands, to form a firm dough. Add more water if needed. 
  3. Cover in cling film and place in fridge until ready to roll out.

Easy puff pastry (enough for 2 pies!):

  • 250g strong plain flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 250g butter, at room temperature, but not soft
  • about 150ml cold water
  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Break the butter up into fairly small pieces, add them to the bowl and rub them in loosely and briefly using your fingertips. Stop while you can still see bits of butter.
  2. Make a well in the mixture and pour two-thirds of the cold water, then mix until you have a firm dough, adding extra water if needed. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for 20 mins.
  3. Turn out onto a floured surface, knead gently and form into a smooth rectangle. Roll *in one direction only*, keeping the edges straight, until 3 times the width, so about 20 x 50cm. You should still see the butter in streaks.
  4. Fold the top third down to the centre, then the bottom third up and over that. Give the dough a quarter turn (to the left or right) and roll out again in the same way, to three times the length. Fold again as before, cover with cling film and place in the fridge for at least 20 mins before rolling to use.

Next, once you have the pastry, make a white sauce:

  1. melt 1 1/2 oz / 40 g butter or margarine over a low heat, then add the same quantity of plain flour and stir for a couple of minutes. 
  2. Next, very gradually add not-quite-a-pint / 500 ml milk, stirring continually. Keep stirring until the sauce boils and thickens. Simmer gently for 2 minutes and add salt and pepper to taste. 

Next, in a reasonably deep pie dish, place chopped vegetables (examples: carrot, celeriac, broccoli, leek, celery, parsnip, peppers...)

Cover the vegetables with the white sauce. Add herbs or other seasoning if you like.

Roll out the pastry thinly (5 mm / 1/4 in) and form a round slightly bigger than your pie dish. Trim the edges off it, and stick the bits you have cut off onto the edge of your pie dish, which you have dampeed with a little water. Brush the strip with water, and cover the pie with the remaining pastry. Pressthe edges together, knock up (bash the edges with the back of a knife) and flute (make the edges pretty by pinching with your fingertips). Brush the pie top with beaten egg and decorate with any scraps of pastry that are left, made into a nice shape.

Bake at 190 ºC for 40-50 minutes.

Devil's food cake(s)

These are scrumptious! Annie's most successful cupcakes to date.

  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 175g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or just use vanilla sugar)
  • 175g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1 heavily heaped tablespoon of golden syrup
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
First, place the cocoa powder in a bowl, pour over 175 ml boiling water and whisk until smooth. Then add the butter to the hot cocoa mixture, and let it sit there while you do the rest (the butter should melt and the whole mixture cool down a bit).
Next, in a big mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar (and vanilla), salt and bicarbonate of soda.
Add the cocoa-butter-water mixture gradually, and beat together.
Next, add the golden syrup, and finally add the eggs, continuing to beat. You should have a fairly soft (dropping) cake mixture by the end.

Put this mixture into several (at least 12, more like 24) individual cupcake cases, filled 3/4 full, or alternatively into one large greased/lined cake tin. Bake at 180 ºC (160 for a fan oven) for 20 mins (longer for a large cake).

Ice with your favourite frosting and decorate.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Soul Cakes (officially Shropshire Special Cakes)

These are the biscuity sort as opposed to the bun kind. 
4 oz ground rice
4 oz plain flour
pinch of caraway seeds
4 oz caster sugar,
4 oz butter
2 eggs, modified by us to say 1 egg
Cream butter and sugar, work in rice, flour, and caraway seeds. Add eggs for firm dough. Roll and cut into 5 inch circles. Bake at  190 ºC/gas mark 5 for 15 minutes.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Rebarbova buchta - Rhubarb cake

Very easy, rather good.

c. 500g rhubarb (I used less and it was fine)
500 g polohrubé mouky / plain flour (if you have self raising, use this and omit baking powder!)
250 g sugar, or 200g does nicely for not such a sweet cake.
half a pat of butter or similar, around 100g but it can be approximate
250 ml milk
1 egg
1 sachet = 2 to 3 tsp baking powder
2 sachets = 5 to 6 tsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Chop the rhubarb into smallish chunks and sprinkle them with the vanilla sugar. Set aside while you make the rest.

Cream butter and sugar, then add egg, flour, baking powder, and as much of the milk as you need to form a fairly soft mixture. Spread this into a greased lined tin, and on top scatter the rhubarb. Sprinkle the cinnamon gently over the top. Bake in a moderate oven, around about 180C, for about half an hour or whatever it takes for the cake to be nicely golden and the cake tester to come out clean.

For those who prefer their rhubarb sweeter, sprinkle with icing sugar after it comes out of the oven.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Mushrooms in sour cream

A wonderful little recipe from the Home Gardeners' Cook Book

Serves 2-3

8 oz mushrooms (250g)
2 oz butter (50 g)
1 large carrot
4 tbsp sour cream
salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Wipe and slice the mushrooms, stalks and all.
  2. Heat the butter in a small pan and add the mushrooms.
  3. Peel the carrot and grate it into the pan.
  4. Cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes tossing occasionally.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream. 
  6. Season to taste with salt and ground pepper.
Serve hot. This can be served as a starter as it is, or as a veg accompaniment, or serve it over a hot hard boiled egg (one per person, halved) on top of couscous or rice or mashed potato, for a perfectly delicious dinner.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Caramel rice krispie squares

Makes 10 to 12 squares


4 oz white marshmallows (actually I think it doesn't matter if they are pink...)
4 oz cream caramels
4 oz butter
6 oz rice krispies (this is a whole packet!)

  1. Place the marshmallows, toffees and butter in a large non-stick pan and heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon, until they are melted and the mixture is blended.
  2. Draw the pan off the heat.
  3. Add the rice krispies all at once and stir gently until they are all coated with caramel.
  4. Pour the mixture into a large shallow rectangular tin and press down evenly.
  5. Leave in a cool place until they have set firm, and then cut them into squares (using a plastic implement if you are using a non-stick baking tin).
  6. Store in an airtight tin. It's best to eat them fairly soon.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Orange and cranberry ricotta cake

2 oz / 50g of dried cranberries (can use sultanas)
8 oz / 200g caster sugar (use vanilla sugar if poss)6 oz / 150g softened butterthe finely grated zest and juice of one orange (or lemon)3 large free range eggs, separated10oz / 250g ricotta cheese8 oz / 200g self raising flour1 tsp baking powdericing sugar for dusting

Place the cranberries in a small saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Drain and allow to cool. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Grease and line the bottom of an 8 inch spring form cake tin.

Rub the orange zest into the sugar, then add the butter and cream until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolks and then the ricotta, to obtain a smooth mixture.  Add the cranberries. Fold in the flour and baking powder.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff.  Stir 1/4 into the cake mixture and gently fold in the rest until thoroughly mixed, then spoon into the tin.  

Bake for just over an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  The crust will be cracked on the top and nicely golden. Cool in the tin for a few minutes before removing to a rack.  Dust with icing sugar before serving.