Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Blackberries and rose geranium crumble

When the blackberries are starting to ripen on our generous bush in the garden I know that summer is starting to come to a close, crumble is wonderful pudding at all times of year and is liked by most visitors whether served hot or cold. It can be infinitely varied depending on the fruit used under the crumbly crunchy topping. In this recipe we combine juicy blackberries with the fragrant rose geranium to give a slightly perfumed compote.

The combination came about as I wondered what recipes I could use my beautifully fragrant scented geranium leaf plants in, after all I had attar of roses, orange fizz, pink capitatum (lime scented) and Lady of Plymouth (rose mint scented) to try. 

I obtained my scented leaf geraniums from Otter Farm, home to Mark Diacono one time gardener at River Cottage and now Climate Change farmer, Otter Farm has a fantastic range of seeds and plants for sale for the more adventurous smallholder.

Since recently converting to gluten free I thought I'd have a go at making a gluten free crumble mixture, this recipe is great served with yogurt, cream or custard. The mixture will also store well in the fridge in a sealed container so you can whip a quick dessert in a flash, just combining with what ever fruit you have to hand.

What you need to make the scented compote
  • Blackberries 
  • A few rose scented geranium leaves
  • A drop of water
  • 1/2 weight of fruit in sugar (caster)

To make the compote
  • In a pan add the blackberries, sugar, geranium leaves and a drop of water, bring to a gentle simmer until the blackberries are softened then allow to cool. Leave the leaves in the pan with the fruit compote until cold so the flavours have time to infuse.
  • Once cold remove leaves and spoon into ramekins
To make the crumble, you will need
  • 200g Gluten free flour 
  • 100g Softened butter
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 50g  Gluten free Oats (if tolerated)

In a stand mixture mix all crumble ingredients until you have a crumbly mixture

  • Now top the ramekins with the crumble mixture 

  • Place in the oven at 180c on a baking tray and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until golden and the juices are rising from the berries.

  • Serve hot or cold with or without cream or custard

Lucky for us most of the ingredients can be sourced from the garden and every year we have  ample quantities of lovely berries so for me this is pretty frugal dish using what we have at hand. For that reason I am linking up to No Waste Challenge, hosted this month by I'd much rather bake than and created by Elizabeths Kitchen and also to Shop Local also created by Elizabeths Kitchen.


And Credit crunch munch crreated by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food for all , hosted this month by Elizabeths Kitchen.


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Lemon crunch cake

Who doesn't love a lemon cake (well I know someone who doesn't but you get the point), zingy yet comforting at the same time, perfect with a cup of tea whether its drizzling or sunny its a cake standard and one that everyone should have in their arsenal.

I have seen recipes for gluten free lemon cakes which contain mashed potatoes and at some point I will give them a go but this one is more conventional were some of the flour is substituted with ground almonds and the other flours are gluten free. The resultant cake is moist and very moreish, improved by the lemon drizzle topped off by a crunch lemon sugar topping.

Sorghum flour which is in this recipe is a fine  beige white flour from a millet like grain, obtainable on line and in any good health food store. Its a nutritious flour and adds a good flavour to the bake.

What you need
  • 175g melted butter
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 25g tapioca flour
  • 40g sorghum flour
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 25g cornflour
  • 25g fine polenta
  • 1 tsp lemon oil
To make the sugar topping

  • 50g sugar
  • 1 tbsp sugar for sprinkling
  • juice of 1 lemon

What you do

  • Firstly lets pre-heat the oven to 170c
  • You will need a 2lb loaf tin, oiled and based lined or use a tin liner
  • Mix all the cake ingredients together in a large bowl, being careful that you melted butter is not too hot, otherwise you will scramble your eggs.
  • Once you have a smooth mixture pour into you prepared tin, smooth the top and place in the oven
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden, well risen and tests cooked if you insert a skewer
  • Remove from oven and cool in the tin.
  • Whilst the cake is cooling , melt the 50g of sugar and lemon juice in a pan. Once all the sugar has dissolved, pour over the still slightly warm cake and sprinkle immediately afterwards with a further tablespoon of sugar to create a delicious crunchy sugary topping once cooled.
  • Keeps well loosely wrapped and stored in a cool place.

I'm linking up to Hijacked by Twins who is babysitting the Bake of The Week for Helen over at Casa Costello

                                                              Bake of the Week

I'm going to be hosting this challenge in just over a weeks time after Hay in a Day has hosted the challenge

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Tumbleberry and yogurt iced lollies

Need to cool down, these gorgeous summertime treats are a doddle to whip up and are much better for you than the icy treats you buy from the shop. Made with fresh berries, some sugar and a little yogurt they have just the right amount of fruity tang to creaminess ratio to deliver a very satisfying ice lolly.

For many months I have been searching for the perfect iced lolly mold, ideally my perfect one would be metal where you can use wooden sticks, just like the one I remember from the 1970's from the little corner shop that made vimto lollies in summer. So far I have managed to buy a plastic one where the plastic handles snapped one by one and then a supposedly metal one which turned out to be plastic with a steel finish (and yes I did complain to the manufacturer - who frankly wasn't very forthcoming). So the search continues......

To make tumbleberry and yogurt lollies you need
  • 500ml mixed berries (can be frozen and defrosted)
  • 200-250g sugar (varies depending on mix of fruit you use)
  • 75ml of yogurt (I used a Greek yogurt)
  • Icing sugar
  • Ice lolly mold and sticks
To make the mixture
  • Start by making a over sweetened compote, using the berries, the sugar and just a drop of water to get the juices going in the pan. Once the berries are softened and the sugar dissolved, switch off the heat. 
  • Cool a little and then sieve to remove pips and seeds and any tough skins.
  • Cool and then taste for sweetness, what you are trying to achieve is just a bit too sweet before freezing. If you need to add more sugar then use icing sugar as this dissolves without heating.
  • Once you are happy with the level of sweetness, mix in the yogurt.
  • Pour into molds and insert lolly sticks
  • Freeze for at least 12 hours
Ta dah Tumble berry and yogurt iced lollies, on a hot sunny day you will be popular.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

French bean, tomato and cumin salad

I love using fresh seasonal produce in recipes and its even better if that produce is freshly picked from the garden. As per usual I am fighting a loosing battle with the courgette plants in the garden and it was whilst picking the a fore mentioned vegetable, I spotted that my lovely golden french bean plants were starting to crop. I find French beans are always better eaten young and the golden variety we are are growing this year is pleasantly waxy.

This is a great dish to serve along side a grilled steak or chicken fillet or just on its own with other salads and has a pleasant aromatic spiciness which is lovely warm or cold, it also usefully uses a few small tomatoes too homegrown if you have those too. It would be a great take along dish for a bbq or party, much more exciting than the standard coleslaw.

What you need
  • French beans - topped and tailed (not too large pods)
  • Butter - a good sized knob
  • Tomato - 1 large or couple of small - chopped 
  • Clove of garlic - crushed
  • Freshly ground cumin - 1 tsp ish
  • Salt - pinch
  • Pepper - to taste
  • Fresh coriander leaves
What you do
  • Simmer the prepared beans in a little salted water until tender, but still with a little body.
  • Drain the beans and place in a small frying pan and cook with the butter, garlic, chopped tomato and cumin.
  • Cook for a few minutes until the tomato pieces are softened, remove from heat, season to taste.
  • Serve strewn with fresh corainder leaves
I'm joining in the foodie fun this month over on Tinned Tomatoes for No Croutons required.


We are also linking up to Eat your Greens over at Allotment 2 kitchen

And finally we are linking up to The Spice Trail who's theme this month is Beach BBQ, hosted over on Bangers and Mash.                                                          
spice trail badge square

                              beach barbecue

Friday, 8 August 2014

Rocket, roasted tomato, basil and feta salad

This salad is seriously amazing for two main reasons firstly its tastes great and secondly as it uses plenty of rocket (arugula for our American friends), the reason why I like this is because we have a forest of of rocket growing in the vegetable garden. I enjoy rocket salads as our homegrown wild rocket has a spicy Parmesan cheese edge to its flavour so its great in combination with other Mediterranean salad ingredients. This salad is a mish mash of Italian and Greek flavours and screams languid hot summer days to me.

I am sure I can almost here Spanish guitars and feel Balearic breezes through the trees.....

I am sure if you didn't fancy roasting the tomatoes that some good sun dried tomatoes would be nearly as good in this dish, plus you could swap out the feta for local goat cheese, serve with chilled white wine and good bread, simple grilled meats or fish and good friends.

What you need
  • Rocket (Arugula) - a good handful for each person
  • Basil- a few sprigs - leaves picked off
  • Feta or goats cheese - 1 block serves about 4 - chopped or crumbled
  • 6 - 10 baby plum or cherry tomatoes - halved
  • Extra virgin olive oil ( extra virgin rapeseed would also be good)
  • Sprig of fresh thyme - leaves picked off
  • White wine vinegar / balsamic vinegar / red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
What you do 
  • Heat your oven to 220c
  • Toss the tomatoes in a little of the olive oil and place in a small oven tray, sprinkle with the thyme and a little sugar and season with salt and pepper.
  • Roast for about 30 minutes or so until the tomatoes are slightly charred and soft (like in the bottom image)
  • Cool ( you can store in the fridge for a while if you like, no snaffling !)
  • iMake a dressing of the pan juices, a good slug of olive oil and some vinegar (you are going for 6/1 oil to vinegar ratio), taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  • To assemble the salad, toss the rocket in the dressing , then top with the cheese and roasted tomatoes and drizzle with a little more of the dressing.
  • Strew with basil leaves
  • Serve immediately and devour greedily.

I'm linking up to Simple and in Season, created by Ren Behan and hosted this month by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

I am also linking to Extra Veg created by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy and hosted this month over at Maison Cupcake.


Saturday, 2 August 2014

Earl Grey tea loaf - gluten free

Frankly I don't think you can beat a tea loaf, especially one which is Earl Grey scented. This very British bake is great for taking on picnics or in school lunch boxes and the like, it is also better after a couple of days wrapped and stored in an airtight tin.

To ensure a moist tasty cake please soak the dried fruit for at least a couple of hours in the tea so it doesn't rob the cake of its moisture whilst baking, this is particularly important if you are baking gluten free. I have been experimenting recently with mixing my own gluten free flour rather than relying on ready mixed and must say that I am impressed with the results being achieved.

Earl Grey tea dates from the 1830's and is reputed to be named after the Prime Minister of that time, a black tea with the addition of the oil of the bergamot orange.

What you need
  • 275g Dried mixed fruit (raisins, sultanas, cranberries, apricots are all lovely)
  • 125ml strongly brewed Earl Grey tea
  • 90g softened butter or quality vegetable margarine
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 180g plain gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthum gum
  • 125ml warmed skimmed milk ( I use the microwave)
  • 2 eggs - free range
1 x 2lb loaf tin base lined or use a liner (I pick them up from the local £1 shop)

What you do
  • Soak the fruit in the strongly brewed Earl Grey tea for at least 2 hours
  • Once the fruit is soaked and swelled then you are ready to bake
  • Pre heat the oven to 160c 
  • Beat the softened butter and sugar together in a large bowl or use a mixer.
  • Once soft light and fluffy add the rest of the ingredients except the dried fruit 
  • Mix until well combined, then fold in the dried fruit
  • Pour into the prepared tin and place in the oven
  • Bake for 50 -60 minutes, the cake is ready when a skewer inserted comes out clean
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then cool fully on a wire rack
  • Once fully cool wrap in foil to store
  • Fabulous serve buttered or on its own.

As this cake is perfect picnic food I am linking up to Tea Time Treats whose theme this month is PICNIC FOOD, a blog challenge hosted by Lavender and Lovage and Hedgecombers.

                                         August Tea Time Treats: Pack up a Picnic! Picnic Food & Picnic Treats

Hearth & Soul Hop

Casa Costello

Thursday, 31 July 2014

August 2014 - Anson Bolton -The Millstone Inn, Mellor.

                               Chef Anson Bolton

This month our featured foodie is Anson Bolton, talented chef patron of The Millstone Inn at Mellor, a delightful village inn and restaurant with a reputation for amazing local food and a warm "Lancashire" welcome. Anson's style in traditonal "British fare" served with flair and attention to detail. 

The Inn is set in a small village on the edge of stunning Lancashire countryside, were you can enjoy great food, Thwaites beer (brewed locally) and  luxury country house style accommodations.
                                  Millstone | Award-winning Inn

On to the crucial questions, I love this bit where we found out more about the person behind the food.
  • What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication ?

When I first started in a kitchen I was brought a copy of the Readers Digest Cookery year in the 80’s, whilst it’s not “on trend” it’s a great guide to what’s seasonal and what you should be using and when. Another culinary bible is the Practical Cookery a must for any student chef. Its fascinating to see how things have changed, in the 1st editions there were no healthy eating or allergy concerns, the latest edition has calorie counts, allergens awareness and even a DVD! How times have changed. Nigel Slater is also a good read with simplistic seasonal dishes.

  • What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?
It’s just proper food done well, forget all this with a twist stuff, Mushy peas are mushy peas if they’re done right you can’t go wrong same can be said about all our other traditional dishes (said in me poshest Bolton accent!!!)

  • If you weren't doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?
I've always thought I’d love to be a postman, just me and a sack of post no worries but my wife tells me I'm not a morning person and I'm not keen on walking so I might have to rethink that one!

  • Which piece of kit could you not do without ?

Not so much a piece of Kit but I'm really fortunate to have a loyal and hard-working brigade of chefs who are great to work with, talented, grafters and we understand each other’s humour (just)

  • Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
My Grandfather was a caterer and founded Percivals Outside Caterers in Bolton before the war, although he died long before I was born he sounds a fascinating chap. He was also a local councillor and a staunch socialist so it would be nice to have Margaret Thatcher at the table as well to spice things up, then that Dimbleby bloke, the Question Time presenter to put them in their place. Then for the entertainment I’d have Peter Kay doing an American Trilogy duet with Elvis Presley

  • What advice would you give to your younger self ?
I'm not a good listener! I tend to think of something and jump straight in so maybe it’s think things through and listen to those in the know.

  • Describe your style in three words 
Fresh, Honest and consistent

  • What was your latest foodie gadget purchase ?
I'm not really a gadget man….We have all the usual Thermomixer and trendy ovens but you can’t really beat a set of sharp knives. 

  • What is your greatest achievement to date ?
I was selected to be part of the crew on the P and O’s Oriana 20 years ago. It’s was a great experience flying over on a private jet to see the ship being built, meeting the Queen at the naming ceremony and lots of corporate lunches. Stressful but worth it. 

  • What is the worst mistake you have made ?
Not so much a kitchen night mare but I once manage to lose the Grooms trousers on the morning of his wedding…..long story of mistaken identity in which I gave the trousers to another guest who then set off south to go home! It was my ultimate Fawlty Towers moment. 

  • Tell us a secret about yourself ? may be something we wouldn't expect !
As a teenager I was a fanatical Pigeon racer with trophies to prove it.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Gluten free scones

Luxury afternoon teas are popping up all over the place, however even before I became gluten free I used to find that some of the scones which formed part of the afternoon tea disappointingly dry and crumbly and not that pleasant to eat even when ladled with obscene amounts of jam and cream.

Mr LF loves scones with jam and cream, particularly home baked scones with homemade jam, so the challenge was set as to create a gluten free scone. I must say that actually prefer the gluten free version, yes they don't rise as much but they are more moist and a lot less crumbly, they are also the perfect vehicle for large dollops of cream and jam.

After lots of research on the internet and baking up several storms (well disappointing versions) here is our current favourite recipe.

What you need

  • 1.5 cups of gluten free self raising flour (if using plain add 1 tsp baking powder)
  • 2 tsp xanthum gum
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter - cold
  • 2 eggs free range
  • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt - made up to 5 fl oz with skimmed milk
What you do
  • Preheat the oven to 220c
  • Prepare your baking tray - I used a non stick silicone sheet, you could used non stick baking paper
  • Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl
  • In a measuring jug or separate bowl mix the yogurt/milk mixture with the eggs
  • Rub the cool butter into the dry ingredients until the texture of knobbly breadcrumbs
  • Add the milk/yogurt/egg mix to the large bowl and mix until well incorporated
  • Leave for a few minutes to allow the flour mixture to swell (this is necessary due to the gluten free flour)
  • Using an ice cream scoop, create even sized blobs on your baking sheet
  • Brush the top with the remnants if the egg/yogurt/milk mix
  • Bake in the hot oven for 10-12 minutes until golden and well risen
  • Cool for 5 minutes or so on the tray before removing to a cooling rack
  • Serve sliced with lots of jam and a cream

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Ragbag pasta with roasted courgette, basil and mint

Well its that time of year again when our courgette plants are yielding a courgette a day and my quest is to find new and novel ways to serve this vegetable. This recipe came about as a way to use up the part bags of pasta that you often find lurking in the cupboard waiting for a little love, it works fine with gluten free pasta which I find remains al dente for longer than normal pasta.

I also spotted that this months cooking with herbs had the theme of basil, at its peak flavour wise at this time of year, I combined it with mint for a pesto flavour twist and lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. A delicious, frugal and tasty dish, rich in courgettes and herbs. This dish is healthy and fresh tasting and makes use of some great seasonal ingredients that just sing summer.

What you need
  • Courgettes (Zucchini) - approx 3 medium sized cut into 2cm slice, cut in half
  • Olive oil - good drizzle
  • Fresh basil- 3 sprigs
  • Fresh garden mint - 3 sprigs, leaves picked off
  • Parmesan cheese - handful
  • Cooked pasta (cooked to the instruction on the packet)
  • Black pepper - freshly ground
What you do
  • Toss the chopped courgettes with olive oil and place on an oven tray
  • Roast in the oven at 180c for about 40 minutes or so until the courgettes are softened and tinged golden brown
  • Whilst the courgettes are roasting, cook the pasta so that it ready when the courgettes are ready.

  • Drain the pasta and toss with the roasted courgettes and oil , add the cheese and the herbs torn into small pieces

  • Toss and then serve with freshly ground black pepper

I'm including this post in this months cooking with herbs, whose theme this month is basil. Created by Lavender and Lovage and hosted also this month by Karen too.
                                                         Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

I am also linking to Pasta Please created by Tinned Tomatoes and Hungry Healthy Happy, hosted this month by Hungry Healthy Happy, the theme is a pasta dish healthy or lightened.

                                          pasta please

And also to Eat Your Greens over on Allotment2Kitchen.

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