Monday, 3 September 2012

From Ground to Grub

So, fellow Bloggers, after an extremely busy summer I'm back and attempting to find time for (one of) my favourite past times - cooking.
I don't think that I've yet shared the wonders of Farm Club with you dear readers? But you need to know about it because I think there should be many. mnay more projects like this around the country.
Farm Club is a community farm - you can have your own small plot of land and can get as involved as you want in all other aspects of the farm. When we discovered this little piece of heaven just a mile or so from our front door I was amazed. It's a brilliant idea and especially for those of us missing the countryside and living in a flat! 
Well, as I've said, it's been a busy time and I'm afraid to say that our lovely plot of land has also been abandoned for weeks. I know :-(
Luckily for us, we share our plot with the lovely and much more proactive Jo & Miles. As a result our little plot has provided us with many lovely veggies - see this week's hoard below.
Now, that's all pretty standard stuff this week. Nothing too odd to deal with! However, I had never cooked chard before. I'd eaten it (and not really liked it) but was assured that it tastes a lot lot better if eaten fresh. I cooked it very simply:
  1. Cut off the stalk and cut into 3cm (ish) pieces
  2. Roughly chop the leaves
  3. Add olive oil, 2 cloves garlic - diced and some rosemary
  4. Add the stalks and cook until softened over a medium heat
  5. Add the leaves and 3 spoons water, put the lid on and leave for around 3 mins.
The result was a very simple vegetable side dish - nothing fancy - but I tell you, I'm converted. I doubt very much that my cooking had anything to do with it. I suspect that chard is simply a waste of time unless it is FRESH!
Even better, if we can grow it, then you lovely lot definitely can. Give it a go and see!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Citrus Cardamom Shortbread

I absolutely love Earl Grey tea. I would go so far as to say that it's one of my top 10 flavours! 

I treated myself to a cup of this lovely stuff yesterday from TeaPigs (any tea lovers really need to take a look at their website - it's tea heaven!). 

The only downside to my civilized afternoon was a lack of biscuits... I really do need biscuits with my tea, don't you?!

Well, I decided that shortbread would be the very thing.

To accompany the gorgeous bergamot citrus flavours of this tea, I have added delicate lemon, lime and cardamom flavours that I think work really well. Let me know what you think. 
Preheat your oven to 170°C.

  • Cream together 225g butter and 100g caster sugar.
  • Gently stir in 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 250g plain flour
  • Add the zest of 2 limes, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice (or a few drops of lemon flavouring)
  • Then take the seeds from 8-10 cardamom pods, crush them to a powder and add them to the mixture
  • Stir the mixture. Once it starts to clump together use your fingers to gently press the mixture together into a soft dough
  • Put the dough in the fridge for 10 mins (otherwise it will fall apart when you roll it out)
  • Flour the surface and roll it out to about 1cm thick
  • Use a small cutter (it will make around 25 biscuits) to cut the mixture into small circles
  • Put them onto a lightly floured tray and put back into the fridge for 5 mins (this is not essential but it will help your biscuits to hold their shape in the oven so they wont spread out and become too thin)
  • Bake for around 10 mins until the shortbread has just a hint of golden colour
  • Take them out and sprinkle with caster sugar while they are hot
  • Leave them to cool and store in a tin (they'll keep for around a week)

If you don't like the sound of any of the flavours then it will work just as well without them (just add a little vanilla for a plain but delicious alternative).
I hope that you will enjoy them with your afternoon tea - whatever your brew of choice!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Classic Pancakes - the hassle & mess-free way

Happy Pancake Day! 

I thought I'd share my pancake recipe/method with you... don't get me wrong it's a simple pancake recipe, I haven't messed with it! But I think that this is the simplest and most mess free way to do it - perfect for kids.

You need:
100g plain flour
1/2 pint milk
1 egg
a pinch of salt

Measure everything out.

Now... here's the simple bit. Put the 1/2 pint milk back into the milk bottle (if you have more milk than this you will of course need to store the excess in a jug).
Add the other ingredients into the milk bottle. Screw the lid on TIGHTLY!

Then shake it! Cue crazy shaking dance around the kitchen! 

Check that it's lump free. If not, just shake some more.
And that's it done. Leave to stand for around 20 minutes (if you have time, but don't worry if not).
You should now have beautifully smooth pancake mix in a ready-made pouring jug and no messy bowls, whisks, spooons etc to wash up. Joy!
I hope you enjoy your pancakes as much as we did. Now if you'll excuse me I must roll off to flop onto the sofa. x