Category Archives: Food

Pear & Ginger Chutney Recipe

Here’s the Pear & Ginger Chutney Recipe…

Pear & Ginger Chutney

It’s thick, a little tangy, a little sweet, slightly hot with the tiny chunks of ginger, and gorgeous with a mature cheddar. You can use unripe pears and then blitz a few cups of the cooked chutney while hot to make it less syrupy and more thick. (I did).

Ingredients:

10 cups peeled and chopped pears (fairly finely chopped) (15-20 pears, depending on their size)
3 medium red onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
4 cups white sugar
3 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup seedless raisins or sultanas
1 cup crystallised ginger
1 tsp salt
3 star anise
10 whole cloves
2 sticks cinnamon, or 2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 crushed juniper berries

Pour the vinegar in the pot you are going to use to cook the chutney in, then add the pears to it as you chop them up so they don’t turn brown. Take 1 cup of the sugar and the ginger and put in a food processor. Pulse the ginger and sugar together until the ginger is finely chopped, then add to the pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Stir regularly so the bottom doesn’t catch. Cook gently for 1-2 hours or until the pears are cooked and the chutney has come together. You can blitz a couple of cups of the chutney if the pears haven’t broken down at all, just leave out the whole spices from blitzing.

Sterilise clean jars (you’ll need 8-9 pint jars) by placing them in a tray in the oven at 100’C for 20 minutes. Put the lids in a bowlful of boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Quickly fill the hot jars with the hot chutney to 4-5mm from the top, keeping the rims clean (if you’ve spilled the chutney on the rims, wipe them with a wet sponge and wipe dry). Dry off the lids and screw them on to finger-tight. Leave on a clean dry tea towel on the counter for several days before moving. I usually fill 2-3 jars at a time, then put the lids on.

As long as the lids stay sealed, the chutney will last for years.

Pear Chutney on Cheddar
Makings of a ploughmans’ lunch
Closeup
Advertisements

Rice Crispie Chicken

Yup, you read it right. Rice Crispie Chicken. Sorry, there’s no marshmallows in it. It’s a baked chicken dish my son and I made for dinner tonight. We had some rice crispies that needed using, so… we coated boneless chicken thighs in the crushed rice crispies and baked them. My son did most of the work, I only boned & skinned the chicken thighs for him, but you can buy boneless, skinless ones.

It turned out better than expected, so I thought I’d pop the recipe on here for you to try. It would work with other cereal as well like cornflakes or bran flakes.

Rice Crispie Chicken

Rice Crispie Chicken

5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 eggs
1 tbsp water
salt & pepper
2 cups rice crispies or other crisped puffed rice cereal

Preheat the oven to 350’F. Beat the eggs and water together in a bowl with a little salt & pepper. Put the rice crispies in a freezer bag and crush them with a rolling pin- you’ll need to crush them more than you think you will, or you’ll have whole ones that won’t stick to the chicken very well.

Add a little salt & pepper to the crushed cereal, or any other spice you’d like to add and put on a plate. Dip the chicken in the egg, then into the cereal, covering the chicken, press down then flip and make sure that side’s coated well. Place on a greased or parchment covered cookie sheet. repeat with the remaining chicken pieces, then bake for 15-20 minutes
I’d add some cayenne or paprika when we make them again, rice crispies are sweeter when baked! We had them with pesto pasta and steamed veg, but they’d be good in buns too.

I’ll add more photos when we make it again.

Close-up

Apricot Chutney Recipe

Apricot Chutney

Some years I make preserves – jams, chutneys and canned pears (we have a pear tree). This year is one of them, for chutneys, anyway. I used to make this apricot chutney when I was a chef, for adding to sandwich plates and Indian food. It’s not an Indian chutney but the flavours work well with ethnic foods. This chutney is delicious with roasted chicken or pork too. I have to confess we mostly eat chutneys on ‘nibble plates’ – what we call a ploughman’s lunch.

Apricot Chutney on Pate, Pear Chutney on Cheddar

It uses dried apricots, so can be made any time of the year and is easily doubled or tripled if you want. It only needs a few ingredients, and nothing in it is hard to find either. It’s pretty too, a chunky dark orange chutney with flecks of red onion and green rosemary.

Ingredients:

1 kg dried apricots
900g sugar
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 small red onions (or 1 large)
800ml apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

Finely slice the apricots; you can use a food processor but they tend to get mangled a little. Finely chop the red onions too. Put everything in a large heavy pot, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The chutney will be thicker, a little syrupy and heavily smelling of vinegar. You won’t be able to tell what it tastes like until it’s cold and is even better after sitting for a couple of days.

You’ll need about 5 x 454g jars or enough other sizes to that hold much chutney. Wash and dry the jars, then place in a roasting pan and into oven on 100’C for about 20 – 30 minutes to sterilise them. Place the lids in a bowl and pour boiling water over them about 5 minutes before filling the jars.

Have a clean tea towel or 2 on hand and another laid out to place the hot, filled jars on. When the chutney is ready, take out the jars from the oven and quickly fill them to 4-5mm from the top with the hot chutney. You can fill a glass measuring cup or use a soup ladle and a funnel, but try to keep the rims clean. Wipe the rims clean if needed using a clean damp sponge or paper towel. Quickly dry the lids and screw on, finger-tight. Leave on the tea towel on the counter. I usually fill a few at a time, then wipe and screw on the lids. Try to fill quickly enough that the jars are still warm/hot when you screw the lids on. Leave the jars alone for a few days. If you have a part-filled jar, put it in the fridge once it’s cool.

I’ll add in the pear chutney recipe soon too!

Lunch
Apricot and Pear Chutney

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

I know there are thousands of oatmeal raisin cookie recipes out there, but this is the one my son and I make – and he does most of the work! LOL

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup (250g) butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins or sultanas

Preheat the oven to 160’C (350’F). Cream the butter and sugar together (we used an electric mixer). Then add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, mixing in between until the mix is fluffy. Add all the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon.

Using dessert spoons, scoop the dough onto a cookie sheet, they do spread out, so give them room. Bake for 8-12 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Take off the sheet and place on a cake rack to cool. Try not to eat the whole tray at once. Makes about 4 dozen smallish cookies.

The dough will keep well in the fridge for about a week – we cook a few every day straight from the fridge, and just press the dough down a little before putting in the oven.

Close-up cookie

You can add chocolate chips, cocoa, more spices, wholewheat flour, meusli instead of the oatmeal… what’s your favourite combo?

Plate of cookies

Snickerdoodles

These are my favourite cookie. I could eat the whole batch, so I rarely make them. However…. Son’s school has a cookbook fundraiser and they’ve asked for 1 from each family. This will be ours.

They are a plain cookie, but that’s an understatement. They are soft in the middle, and rolled in cinnamon sugar,so they are crisp on the outside, and should be a little wrinkled.

Ready to eat

Ingredients:
1 cup butter
1.5 cups caster sugar
2 eggs
2.75 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Method: Preheat oven to 160’C. Cream butter and sugar together, then add in eggs one at a time. Add in the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt, and mix until it all comes together. Roll into walnut-sized (1″) balls and chill for 5- 10 minutes. I usually manage to make about 3 dozen from this recipe.

Mix the 3 tbsp caster sugar and cinnamon together, roll the balls in it then place, well-spaced out, on a cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove immediately from the sheet and place on racks to cool – they will be soft. Allow to cool for a few minutes before inhaling all of them at once. 😉 They will be thick, and wrinkled, crisp on the outside but soft in the middle once cool. If you can wait that long….

Ready to go in the oven
Just out
Ready to eat

Blackberry & Rhubarb Cobbler

I haven’t added a recipe in a while…. but here goes! lol Son and I made this for breakfast today. We decided not to make it sweet so only added a little sugar to the fruit. (And yes, as usual, the photo was taken after we ate!)

I used frozen fruit from last summer, and let it defrost a little before cooking it.

Blackberry & Rhubarb Cobbler

450g rhubarb, cut into pieces 3/4″ long
450g blackberries
75g white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
3 tbsp water

Cobbler:

330g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
120g butter
2 eggs
milk to make up to 250ml with the eggs

Put the fruit, sugar, spices into a pot and cook on med. heat until the mixture comes to a boil and the rhubarb just starts to fall apart. Mix the cornflour and water together then stir into the fruit — you might not need all of it depending on the water content of the fruit. Turn down to low, and simmer for 3 minutes while stirring, then turn off the heat.

Mix the dry ingredients together, then cut the butter into the mix. Crack the eggs into a glass measuring cup, then pour in enough milk to make it up to 250ml. Whisk together, then stir into the dry mix. You should have a thick, sticky dough.

Pour the fruit into a 9″x 13″baking pan, then spoon the cobbler mix on top, there should be space in between for the fruit to bubble up.

Bake at 190’C (375’C) for 15-20 minutes or until the cobbler mix is lightly browned. Eat warm as is, or pour on a little cream…

Blackberry and Rhubarb Cobbler
Blackberry and Rhubarb Cobbler

Chocolate Cherry Cake AKA Cheat’s Black Forest Gateau!

I haven’t put a recipe on here in a while, but son wanted to make chocolate cake this weekend, so we decided to add cherry pie filling to it to make a sort-of cheat’s black forest gateau. We decided not to put whipped cream on the cake and just have it on the side as our fridge isn’t working and we’d rather be able to leave the cake on the counter and just keep the cream on ice in the fridge. The engineer will be out on Monday!

The cake is a lovely light sponge cake that as long as you don’t over-mix, is lovely and with a tender crumb. It would also make a great chocolate Victoria Sponge.

Cake!
Cake!

Chocolate Cake:

6 oz/175g unsalted butter, softened
6 oz/175g caster sugar (granulated)
3 large eggs, beaten
6 oz/175g self raising flour (or 170g plain flour and 2 tsp baking powder)
1 oz/25g cocoa powder
1 tbsp warm water

Buttercream Icing:

2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 oz/75g softened butter
3 oz/75g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whipped Cream:

250ml Double/Whipping Cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 oz/25g icing sugar

1 – 14 oz. tin cherry pie filling

Turn oven to 350’F/175’C

Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy, then addin the eggs a little at a time. If it starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of the weighed out flour and keep mixing until it is smooth. Add in the warm water.

Mix the flour and cocoa powder (and baking powder if using) together in a bowl, then add to the butter and sugar bowl and fold in.

Divide the mixture between two 8-inch sandwich tins, buttered and floured or lined. Level with a knife and put both tins in the middle of the oven for about 20-25 minutes. They are ready when you gently push the top with a finger the sponge bounces back and the cake is pulling away from the sides of the tin. Cool for 5 minutes in the pans, then carefully turn out on a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, carefully cream together the ingredients for the buttercream icing, then once there is no danger of icing sugar going everywhere, whip with an electric mixer until it’s lighter in colour and fluffy.

Whip the double/whipping cream, icing sugar and vanilla together until ti forms soft peaks.

Spread 1/2 the butter cream onto the top of a layer of cake, putting the remainder in a piping bag with a tip. Once it’s smooth, pipe the remaining buttercream in a circle on the edge, building it up to form a wall to hold the pie filling in. Carefully pour the pie filling on top (it may not take the whole tin), then smooth out. Place the top layer on top and gently wiggle it to center it and level it. Pipe any remaining buttercream on top of the cake, dust with a little icing sugar and serve with the whipped cream and remaining pie filling. Perfect with Earl Grey Tea!

You can also ice the cake with the whipped cream and cover in chocolate sprinkles to make a more authentic looking black forest gateau…

Sweet Potato and Chick Pea Fritters

I found this recipe a few weeks ago amid the madness of knitting uteruses, and finally got a chance to try it – http://www.thesugarhit.com/2015/01/sweet-potato-chickpea-burgers-with-tahini-yoghurt-recipe.html

I made a few changes to it – I made small fritters instead of large burger patties and added chives. I left out the paprika and added garam masala too. My son hoovered them up with Raita and fresh raw green beans in a tortilla wrap and ordered me to make them again! These would be great for a starter for a dinner party or if you want, a greedy meal for 2….

Here’s my adaptation:

Sweet Potato & Chick Pea Fritters

1 medium sweet potato, grated (not peeled)
3 tbsp chopped chives
1 egg
1/3 cup flour (could use gram/wholewheat flour if you wanted)
1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
1/2 tsp each garam masala, ground cumin and ground coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 can drained chickpeas, slightly mashed

Mix everything together with your hands and shape into flat discs about 1 1/2″ across (I made 13, but it will depend on the size of the sweet potato).

Heat a large fry pan with 1/2cm of oil and add the patties, cook on med-high heat until golden brown and crispy, and flip to cook the other side. Drain on paper towels while cooking the remainder. Serve with raita (see below), fresh veg, wraps and mango chutney.

Raita –

1/2 cucumber, halved and deseeded, then grated
3/4 c. greek yogurt
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp lemon juice or to taste

Mix together and let sit to blend flavours.

I’ll add a photo when I make them again….

Crisp Pecan Cookies

I made these yesterday for a “Thank You” to one of my lovely crochet helpers and sent (most of) them off yesterday. I hope she enjoys them as much as I do!

Crisp Pecan Cookies
Crisp Pecan Cookies

Easy to make, they make a crisp cookie perfect for dunking. I suspect with a tweak or 2, the same ingredients will make a nice shortbread too….

Ingredients:

280g butter
200g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
440g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
100g pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 325’F (160’C).

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Stir in the vanilla extract then add the salt and flour and mix until the butter is incorporated into the flour and looks like bread crumbs. Stir the sides of the bowl into the center, then mix again with the mixer. Once it begins to come together, add in the pecans and use your hands to work the dough into a ball.

Cut the dough into 2 and roll out one half on a lightly floured board to about 1/4″ or a little thicker. Cut out in your cookie cutter of choice (mine was a 2″ fluted circle) and put the scraps aside to use with the scraps from the 2nd half of the dough.

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are just beginning to brown. (This will depend on the size and thickness of your cookie). Cool on racks. They should be crisp, buttery and perfect with coffee. Bet you can’t eat just one!

Rocky Road Cupcakes

Yes, I know, 2 recipes in a row on a crafting blog (well it was meant to be one) but it’s turned into a bit of a meander into the road less travelled in my little world…..

So, back to cupcakes. It’s been cupcake central here this week as my son turned 6… somehow you’d think that he’d magically act older, fewer whinges… something. But no, he’s been 6 for……… almost 40 hours now, and no change from oh, say, 53 hours ago.

It’s practically become tradition at his school for the birthday boy or girl to bring some sort of baked treat, 99% of which are cupcakes, to celebrate their birthday… and this is the recipe I made to go in. It has all the things you’d expect in a birthday cupcake – big, chocolatey and decorated. (I tripled the cupcake recipe and doubled the icing recipe).

Rocky Road Cupcakes
Rocky Road Cupcakes

Rocky Road Cupcakes

3 large eggs
175g butter
175g sugar
175g flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1.5 tsp baking powder
50g chopped walnuts (optional)
50g chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat your oven to 160’C. Line a muffin pan with cupcake cases.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time.
Mix the dry ingredients together, then stir into the butter/sugar/egg mixture.
Use an icecream scoop, divide the cake batter into the cases, it should fill 12, depending on their size.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cakes spring back when slightly pressed in the middle.

Cool, then ice with:

Fudgey Chocolate Icing

60g semi-sweet/plain chocolate
115g butter
90ml milk
500g icing sugar
pinch salt
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Melt the chocolate, butter and milk together and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then using an electric mixer, pour the chocolate mix into the dry. Beat until smooth and thick. It will skin up as soon as you stop mixing it, so if you want to add decorations, then add them as you ice the cupcakes.

I used a piping bag to ice the cupcakes, but you can use a small spatula or dinner knife.

Toppings:

Mini-marshmallows
chocolate chips
glace cherries, cut in half
broken up digestive biscuits/graham crackers

I added them as I iced the cupcakes to make sure they stayed pushed into the icing.

Ready to go...
Ready to go…