Catching Up.

August 29, 2009

A lot has happened since my last post.  I have been reading my favourite food blogs and doing some of the recipes and found numerous other interesting food blogs.

I love bread baking blogs and various recipes though I don’t often stray from my usual wholewheat recipe except I tend to put in less wholewheat flour so that the bread is not so heavy and dense as wholewheat bread can be.  I have had a go at making pizza which has sometimes been hit and miss but the latest recipe proved to be much better.  I did not have success freezing the pizza dough and then baking it so I will have to just do it fresh each time for the moment.

Winter of 08/09 we were in UK the whole time and I did not do a lot of baking except bread and some typical English recipes such as apple crumble and dishes with bacon since I can buy what I call decent bacon over there.  Back bacon which is more lean and I always kept some in the fridge.

We enjoyed a Devon cream tea when we went to Devon for a few days and then bought some clotted cream and took back to Dorset with us where we stayed and I made scones so that we had our own cream tea!

So much variety of food in England and lots of ready made to buy which are not always healthy but some are real time savers and unless you enjoy cooking does not inspire one to cook at all.  One example of this is the crumble you can buy to put over the top of fruit.  So easy and hardly worth making yourself it taste so good.

English Cheddar cheese is so good so we always kept plenty of that in the fridge as well.  Various kinds of sausages and Cox’s apples which are only found, as far as I know in England.  Small salad tomatoes, as they call them are available all year and much better than the very large ones we get in N. America.

I could go on and on but I won’t.  We are heading back again for this winter being on the south coast where it is warmer in winter.


English Afternoon Tea

January 23, 2008

In the Library the other day I came across an Afternoon Tea recipe book. Quite obvious by the front cover and pictures inside it was a typical English afternoon tea. The Author who is American has travelled a good deal around the world and has put this book together very nicely.

I looked through to find toasted English Tea Cakes. Wow! first recipe I have found with a photograph of just what a teacake looks like. I hope soon to try it out. Then on looking at the cake section she has a Coffee Cake in true English style. This is a sponge cake, not unlike the Victoria Sandwich which has 2 teaspoons of instant coffee dissolved in a 1 Tablespoon of water added to the mixture – hence making a coffee cake. Chopped walnuts were added to the mixture. The frosting was made with a little cream, butter, sugar and again coffee dissolved in water. The frosting is put in the middle of the cake and remainder on top with chopped walnuts as decoration. A real coffee cake!

I made this cake the other day with my UK self-raising flour and must say it turned out great. I did not do the frosting this time around, but next time I will. I don’t have much UK flour left. That means another trip to UK I guess!!

Toasted Teacakes

December 26, 2007

Sorry to be harking on what I saw and had in UK when visiting a few months ago, but one thing we did have while visiting a cousin was a toasted teacake.

This is a light soft bread kind of roll with currants in which is toasted and enjoyed with butter melting on it and jam on top if liked.  It’s good either way.  So can you get these in North America?  Not on your life. 

I have been on the net. trying to find a recipe to make these and that too has been the hardest thing.  I have looked on UK recipe sites and I found two.  One I made which did not come out right, it was a cross between a scone and a rock cake!  No yeast in it.  The other is Mrs. Beetons which has yeast in it, but so far I have not made them.  When I do, and if they don’t work out, then I’ll just have to wait until my next visit to UK – which I hope will be the end of 2008, it will be autumn going into winter and just the right time for toasted teacakes!

Just a little cooking.

November 13, 2007

Having been away in UK for all of September and  busy since then, I have not done much cooking.

 I brought back with me some self-raising flour which seems to have more umph! than that in North America because I don’t have to use baking powder as is called for in all recipes here.   So I gave it whirl and made a Victoria Sponge sandwich cake which turned out good and recently I made some scones which also turned out well.  Neither one needed baking powder, soda or anything else.

So for the moment that is as far as I’ve got.  When the flour is finished I’ll be back to making scones with the usual plain flour found in the stores here.  The sponge cake will have to wait until I visit UK again, since making it is quite a hopeless affair here.  I will stick to my regular recipes that I use from Food TV or wherever else I have collected them from.


August 24, 2007

For anyone who is a chocolate lover Brownies has to be part of their sweet tooth.  I love the very chocolate recipes which seem hard to find.    I have just been given a recipe for the Ultimate Brownie made with chocolate and no cocoa as some have.

 I made these the first time and added quarter teaspoon of baking powder which gave it a sponge texture and must say we both enjoyed them.  They were even better the next day.  I made them again with less baking powder and put in some cocoa – different again and a little drier, maybe I should have baked them less.  Next time I’ll bake less and omit the cocoa.

 Right now I am off overseas – to UK to be precise and looking forward to some British foods.  Maybe I’ll pick up some interesting recipes.  At the very least we plan on having Tea for Two – perhaps a cream tea. 

So until I get back there will be a lull in writing and I’ll be gone over a month.

Rhubarb, love or leave it.

August 3, 2007

We have not had rhubarb in years, but some neighbours have it growing at the side of their house.  My OH commented on how nice it would be to have rhubarb again.  These folks are new owners of the home and so inherited the rhubarb which they don’t like and kindly told us to help ourselves.  We did just that and pulled a few sticks, giving some away.

 Now what?  I don’t have any rhubarb recipes and did not have time to go online to find any.  So I cooked it on the stove top.  Not bad, he enjoyed it with a cookie crumbled over the top and French Vanilla yogurt.

 Then we were chatting with another neighbour about rhubarb and she announced that she made jam – lots of it and made rhubarb and apple, rhubarb and plum as well the old trusty favourite of rhubarb and strawberry.

 Well, I had some apples in the house so I cooked those and added them to my previously cooked rhubarb.  Much better, we both enjoyed it.  Then I bought some plums and did the rhubarb and plum combination adding a little cornstarch to thicken and make it into a compote.  Delicious.  I certainly can take to rhubarb better with those combination of fruits.  You can keep the strawberry mix, that does nothing for me.  I’ll eat the strawberries on their own.

I then made a crumble topping separately, and sprinkled over the top with the yogurt.  All in all it was different and delightful.  There is plenty left at the side of the house, so we’ll be pulling some more in a few more days!

Good Scones at last!

July 11, 2007

I have numerous recipes for scones, basically mostly the same, except one or two have an egg, or egg and milk which would seem to me to make for a sticky/wet dough.  One has buttermilk, which I have yet to try, otherwise they are the usual 2 cups of flour, a little salt, half or three quarter stick of butter, little sugar and the usual baking powder, which ranges from 1-2 teaspoons.    These days the rubbing in of the flour and butter is done in the processor which makes life much easier.

 My problem has always been that my scones have turned out on the dry side instead of being light and fluffy.  A friend said try adding a little cream of tartar to the mix, so I did just that and hey presto!  Light scones.  A little fluffy, not much, but they are the best I’ve ever made.   Another time, I will try it with an egg but no milk, it will be too wet.  I will try my recipe using buttermilk another time down the road.

One recipe has some blurb at the heading and it says the less you fuss with scones they better they turn out.  I found that to be true.

 I will be in UK for a few weeks and I’ll be in a holiday apartment so I hope to make some scones using the English Self-Raising flour, no baking powder needed and see how they turn out.  I’ll buy some double Devon cream when we are in Devon and we’ll have our own cream tea!   We plan on having a cream tea while out, but it would also be nice to have our own. 

I also hope to make a sponge cake –  a Victoria Sandwich kind and see how that turns out.  Making it with baking powder just doesn’t work out for me.

 So right now I am very pleased with my results on scones even though we have to have them with butter and jam or in the case of husband he has marmalade.  I don’t know what he’ll do when we have a cream tea out – he says he’ll stick with the jam!

Bit of an Absence – now Bread

June 27, 2007

It’s a long time since I posted mainly due to me not having been well.  I developed an auto immune disease and couldn’t walk or eat much for a number of weeks.  However, that is mostly behind me now and I am eating again and trying to put on the weight I lost but not very successfully.  So I don’t worry about it, but just continue to eat.

 In the meantime I now can make bread again and since I was told not to eat bread for a while, as part of a diet change my physician put me on, I reduced the wholewheat flour in my usual recipe and make bread with a lot less and I must say it turns out very good.  A little on the crumbly side, but we don’t mind that, and it is just great toasted.  So I have been eating some bread and have not found it makes any difference to my health.

 I now use 3 cups of unbleached flour and about half a cup of wholewheat.  1 tspn of salt.  I use 1 1/2 cups of warm water, 1 tbspn of honey and 2 1/2 tspns of yeast.  When it has bubbled up I add to the flour and knead until it is smooth and then let rise 45 mins in a greased bowl.  Then I knead a few times again and put in a greased loaf pan and let rise again 45 mins.  Then into the oven at 400F for 37 minutes.     It always turns out good and as said above, great when toasted.  Store bought bread is only bought in an emergency – I object to the price these days.   I will sometimes buy a French baguette when I find a decent one which isn’t oftn. Guess I’ll have to learn how to make that myself.


May 11, 2007

As a child my mother would buy flapjacks from a certain cake shop in the south of England whenever we visited the area.  I think it is now closed, but I plan to check it out when I next visit.

I have several recipes for flapjacks and although there is a slight variation, basically they are the same with 2 cups of quick cooking oats, one stick of butter, half a cup of brown sugar.  The butter is melted and stirred into the other ingredients and baked for 25-30 mins @ 350F.

 Because of the butter content, I prefer to use half a stick and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and  keep it a little more on the healthy side.   One recipe says you can add chocolate chips and another says add chopped nuts, or add chocolate and nuts.   We have so enjoyed the plain flapjacks, which I have now made a few times, first in many years, that I stick to the plain recipe,  but I will move myself in the not too distant future to add some chocolate.

We are just about to eat the last two slices with our usual  banana and French Vanilla yogurt, so it’s time to get cracking and make some more!

Eclairs and the Like.

April 26, 2007

Eclairs and  profiteroles are made from choux pastry which is a French word pronounced ‘shoe’ and it is not a pastry you roll out, but a mixture of butter, water, eggs and flour made in a saucepan and then either piped out on to a baking sheet or spooned out with a teaspoon to make whatever size you like.

When we eat eclairs they are piped out in a piping bag with a plain nozzle on to the baking sheet in to a long shape which is as long or short as you wish. They can also be piped out in a round shape.  You can use a teaspoon to place them on the baking sheet if you don’t want to mess around with a piping bag.

Profiteroles on the other hand are piped out  either with a plain nozzle or a star shaped one.  The size can be small or medium.  Whether you make an eclair or profiterole they are removed from the oven and slit open with a knife to let steam escape and put on to a rack to cool.

Before serving they can be filled with icecream, whipped cream or confectioners custard or even a thick chocolate sauce and topped off with a chocolate glaze or just plain melted chocolate.

 Profiteroles can also be served as a savory finger food with cream cheese and herb filling or any savory filling the hostess wishes to use.

 The basic recipe is  1/2 cup a water   measured into a medium saucepan and you add 4 Tablespoons of butter.  Heat rapidly until butter melts.  Bring to a boil and remove pan from the heat and immediatly add 1/2 cup flour all at once,beating vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture leaves the side of the pan.  Do not do it over the heat as that will separate the butter from the mixture.

Cool slightly and make a well and add 2 eggs one at a time and beat until it looks glossy and mixture falls away from the spoon.

Either place mixture in a piping bag with a plain nozzle or a star if using, and pipe onto a greased baking sheet.  Or use a teaspoon instead.    Bake at 400F about 20-25 minutes until brown and crisp.  Remove from the oven and slit open one side to allow steam to escape.  Fill with your choice of filling.

If you want to make chocolate profiteroles you simply add 1  1/2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder when you add the flour.

A quick and easy dessert to serve up and they can be made well in advance.  Just put into a warm oven if using at a later time, for them to refresh.