Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Mincemeat and Apple Streusel Slice

Mincemeat and apple streusel, what could be more comforting? Perhaps the addition of a big bowl of softly whipped cream or a jug of steaming yellow custard.

Without further ado I will give you the recipe as I know that this is a cake that you will want to make immediately.

175g self raising flour
125g sugar
1 egg
125g unsalted butter
a pinch of salt
1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and sliced
Half a jar of mincemeat, better if it is homemade.
Crumble about 6 digestive biscuits.

1 baking tin approx 18cm x 27cm. It will not be a problem if it is slightly larger or smaller. Not too much though.

Heat the oven to C160 fan or C170 top and bottom heat.

Put the butter, sugar and egg in a largish bowl and beat well to combine. No need to cream really as this is not going to be a sponge.
Fold in the flour to make a fairly stiff mixture. Sort of half wak between a sponge and pastry.
Spoon into a  buttered baking tin. Smooth out with the back of a spoon or a spatula.
Top with spoonfulls of mincemeat and then with slices of apple. Finally top with the crumbled biscuits.
Cook for about 40 minutes. Check with the point of a knife, if it is not cooked then leave to cook for a few more minutes.
Leave to cool and cut into slices to serve.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Creme Patissiere

This pastry cream is a standard of patisserie cooking and can be used in many of the cakes that you can buy in your favourite pastry shops. If you don't want as much as this then scale the recipe down.

So to make it you will need:

400ml of whole milk
100ml of cream
150g egg yolk, this is approximately 7 yolks. It is best to measure as not all eggs are created equal.
150g sugar
36g cornflour
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

  1. Put the egg yolks and sugar into a bowl and mix lightly. 
  2. Add the cornflour and whisk together fo a few seconds until evenly blended.
  3. Now add the cold milk and cream and mix to combine the ingredients. 
  4. Cook in the microwave for 2 minutes at high power. Open the microwave and mix well. This makes sure that the heat is evenly distributed.
  5. Replace the cream into microwave and cook for a further minute. Remove and mix well. Do this twice more and by the time that you have cooked it for 5 minutes in total it should be cooked. If you are nervous, you can cook for 30 seconds at a time. You should mix every time that you open the oven. You will know that it is cooked when it is thick and it has lost the taste of raw cornflour. 

Genoise Sponge

Yesterday I demonstrated how to use a thin sheet of genoise sponge to my wonderful WI. I had already made the sponge. To cook it I used the sheet that you can see in the image. I bought it last year or even the year before from Lakeland and luckily they still have them. So click the image to go to the Lakeland site.

To make a thin sponge to just fill the sheet:

1 egg yolk
2 whole eggs
75g plain flour
75g caster sugar
25 butter melted and allowed to cool. It should still be liquid

  1. Grease and flour the silicone tray. If you don't do this, it will stick, I don't care what claims the manufacturers make.Put the sugar onto a sheet of ovenproof paper and warm gently. 
  2. Whisk the eggs until they are starting to lighten in colour. 
  3. Add the warm sugar and continue to whisk to the ribbon stage by which time the mixture shold be cool.
  4. Now remove about a quarter of the mixture and fold in the melted butter. Add this back into rest of the egg mixture and fold it gently into the mix.
  5. Pour into the tray and level off with a spatula.
  6. Bake at 220 C for about 7 minutes. It will not take long as it is thin and the oven is hot.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Luscious Lemon Curd

Lemon curd is one of my favourite preserves and one that I try to keep in the fridge for when the urge takes me to make a lemon cake. Light sponge filled with a generous layer of lemon curd is one of life's real pleasures. So to make lemon curd you will need:

4 lemons. If your lemons are small then up this to 5. All in all you will need about 300g.250g Unsalted Butter350 g Sugar, 4 Eggs lightly whiskedZest of 2 - 3 lemons, Again this depends on the size.

Put the butter and sugar into a saucepan and heat to about 40 degrees C. Don't get worked up about this, it is just a little warmer than body temperature.

Remove from the stove and beat in the eggs a little at a time. Now return to the stove with the lemon juice and zest. 

Bring to the boil, stiring all of the time. When it comes to a rapid boil it is ready. Remove from the heat.

Delia suggests adding cornflour to the mix. If you do this, add it to the lemon juice before mixing into the butter and sugar mixture.

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Porcini Season is almost over

I have just realised that I forgot to blog about the mushroom season. I think that it was because the season started so late this year and we had almost given up on being able to find any. We missed them in the middle of September as they grew before we came back from Italy. So we had to wait until the next growing cycle and from that time on we have been lucky.

I wish that I could say that we were lucky enough to have picked these beautiful fungi porcini in Italy, but we didn't instead we were lucky enough to find them right here in Wales.

These two little beauties were growing together and refused to become detatched from each other. I love it when the mushrooms grow like this it's so very fairy tale. I left them until last to cut up as I didn't want to destroy the close relationship. I really do think that I'm getting sadder and sadder.

Thursday, 30 October 2014


Today we have a guset post from Ferdinando Guade. He is contributing a sweet that is typical of his region in southern Italy. It's not something that I have ever eaten but now is the time to give something new a try.

 SANNACCHIUDERE (porcidduzzi)
This is an unusual name for a dessert but all is explained below.
There are two legends associated with this name: one is that a poor mother, as Christmas approached, wanted to prepare some sweets for her children, but she had at home a few ingredients. She only had flour, oil and honey. So she kneaded the flour with water and a little oil, then cut the dough into very small pieces, fried them and then dipped them in honey. The children were attracted by the sweets and they began to eat them all. The mother, fearing that there would be none left for the husband when he returned from work, locked the children in the cupboard, saying, “Chiste s’hanne a cchiudere pe le fa acchià à attanete” (These should be closed so that there will be some left for your father can eat.)
The other legend only changes the ending: the mother, to stop children from eating the candy, told them that the cakes were a 'bit open' and the had to wait until Christmas because  so that they would close.
4 tablespoons of sugar
1 pinch of salt
2 packets of baking powder
2 packets of vanilla
150 gr. seed oil
white wine to taste slightly warmed

How to make them
Put the flour on the work surface. Make a well in the centre and in it put  the oil, salt, baking powder and begin to knead, slowly adding the warm white wine, until the dough is elastic and no longer sticky. 
Take a little dough and make the thin sausages with a diameter of 2 cm.
Then cut them into pieces and press with your finger on a gnocchi ridger or the back of a fork or a grater. This is to create ridges on the surface so that more honey will stick to the little balls.
Fry these pieces (sanacchiudere) in hot oil until golden brown, Remove from the oil, and allow them cool. 
Heat the honey.  If it is too thick, add some water. Pour over the little cakes and mix. 
Once cool, sprinkle with colored vermicelli if you have them (anesine) .
This recipe is a modern version, because once there was no baking powder, and then they were a bit 'hard.SANNACCHIUDERE (porcidduzzi) 

Italian version.

Per l’origine del nome si conoscono due leggende:la prima  racconta  che una mamma molto povera, avvicinandosi il Natale,voleva preparare dei dolcetti per i suoi bambini, ma aveva in casa pochi ingredienti, molto semplici: farina, olio, miele. Impastò la farina con l’acqua e un po’ di olio, poi tagliò l’impasto a pezzi molto piccoli, li mise a friggere e infine li immerse nel miele. I bambini, attratti dai dolcetti, cominciarono a mangiarli uno dopo l’altro ma la mamma, temendo che non ne sarebbero rimasti per il marito che doveva tornare dal lavoro, li chiuse a chiave nella credenza dicendo: “Chiste s’hanne a cchiudere pe le fa acchià à attanete” (Questi si devono chiudere per farli mangiare a vostro padre).
L’altra leggenda modifica soltanto il finale: la mamma, per frenare i bambini che volevano mangiare i dolcetti, disse loro che i dolci,  erano un po’ aperti e bisognava aspettare fino a Natale perché… s’hanne a cchiudere!
 HYPERLINK "http://www.caserecci.com/legumi-farina/farina/farina-di-semola" Kg. Di farina 00
4 cucchiai di zucchero
1 pizzico di sale
2 bustine di lievito per dolci
2 bustine di vanillina
 HYPERLINK "http://www.caserecci.com/olio-extra-vergine-oliva"100 gr. di olio Extra vergine di oliva
150 gr. di olio di semi
 HYPERLINK "http://www.caserecci.com/monelli-bianco"vino bianco quanto basta
Sul piano da lavoro mettere la farina a fontana, al centro  l’olio, il sale, il lievito e cominciare ad impastare, aggiungendo pian piano il vino bianco tiepido, fino ad ottenere un impasto elastico e non appiccicoso. Quindi prendere un pò di impasto e  fare dei bastoncini del diametro di cm.2 i, tagliarli quindi a  tocchetti, che verranno passati, facendo pressione con un dito,sullo strumento che si usa per rigare gli gnocchi o sul retro di una forchetta o di una grattugia.Friggere questi tocchetti (sanacchiudere), in abbondante olio caldo e lasciarli raffreddare. Riscaldare il miele, se troppo denso, con mezzo bicchiere di acqua, immergere i dolcetti e mescolare. Una volta freddi, cospargere con palline colorate (anesine). Questa ricetta è una versione moderna, perché una volta non esisteva il lievito per dolci e quindi non si metteva, ma venivano un po’ duri.

 HYPERLINK "http://blog.giallozafferano.it/cuinalory/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/sanacchiuddi-004.jpg" 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Marmalade Time

The arrival of Seville oranges must be one of the few seasonal food events left to us who live in the world of strawberries in December.  I couldn't wait for them to arrive this year as my supply was well and truly depleted.  Not a spoonful left to glorify my morning toast or add to my favourite fruit cake. That said they did sit in my fridge for a few days as you really need time to make marmalade.  It can't be thrown together in minutes. Marmalade requires time to prep all of the ingredients but once that is done it can be switched on and left to its own devices for a couple of hours.

I coerced my husband to help me get the fruit ready. Out came the fruit juicer and we were away.

To make a lip puckering marmalade and why make anything else, you will need:

1kg of Seville oranges. Make sure that they are fresh as the fresher the oranges the easier it is to get the marmalade to set.

1.9kg sugar.

The juice of 1 lemon

2 Lt water.

You will need at least 6 jam jars. If they are small you will need more. They should be sterilised. I do mine by washing them in the dishwasher just before I need them.

Now comes the fun and this is why help is appreciated.

Cut the oranges in half and juice. Remove the pips and pith and pour into a bowl. The rinds should be sliced thinly, only you will know how thick you like your rind. This will take a while, but while one person juices the other can slice. Add the rind to the water along with the juice of the fruits and bring gently to the boil. This will simmer for 2 hours. It really does need this as it takes that long for the rind to soften.

Now, convention would have it that the pith and pips should be put into a cheese cloth tied with string and then added to the boiling marmalade. When this is cooked the bag is squeezed to get out the pectin which is a thick gel that oozes out of the bag. Well blow that. I put my pips and pith together with about half a pint of the water from the 2lt into a microwave bowl and cooked until mushy. This may take a few minutes. It depends on your machine. Put the resulting mush into a fine sieve and, using a large spoon, push as much as you can through the sieve. You will see the pectin coming out with ease. Scrape the pectin off the bottom of the sieve. If it gets to be too thick, take a ladle of the hot liquid from the pot, avoid the rind, and pour onto the sieve. Stir and push again. You get the idea I'm, sure. When you have removed as much pectin as possible give it  a good stir and whisk into the boiling marmalade. Allow it to finish its 2 hour simmer.

Put a side plate in the fridge to cool.

Now add the sugar and mix to dissolve. Bring the marmalade up to the boil and, if you can do it, a good rolling boil. No namby pamby simmering needed here. You really need to get up to a temperature of about 105C. This is the setting point of most jams. However, any time from 99C on you can test for setting. Do this by putting a spoonful on a cold plate, put the plate in the fridge and when cool the jam is ready if the jam on the plate wrinkles when pushed with your finger. It is a good idea to switch the jam off while you do this other wise it may over cook.

Ladle the marmalade into the jars. Screw the tops on firmly and turn upside down. this will help prevent the jam from going off. Leave to cool and when cool get out the toaster and enjoy.