Monday, 27 July 2015

Hot smoked salmon, fennel and pea pasta

I often buy ready cooked hot smoked salmon when I am out shopping as its a good fridge standby for a healthy quick meal with salad, its also popular with MR LF too. Most supermarkets and even some fishmongers normally stock a packed version alongside the smoked mackerel.

This dish hardly needs a recipe as its so easy and can be whipped up in minutes, from store cupboard and freezer basics, the dish is enhanced by using fresh from the garden fennel fronds, but if you don't have them dried dill or fennel will work almost as well.

What you need
  • Pasta - macaroni or farfelle work well, gluten free if you like
  • 1 pack of hot smoked salmon - skin removed and flaked
  • Frozen petit pois or peas
  • Dill or fennel - fronds, freshly chopped or use dried herbs
  • Creme fraiche
What you do
  • Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the pack, for the last 3 minutes add the frozen peas and bring back to the boil to finish cooking the pasta and the peas
  • Drain the pasta  and peas using a colander, return back to pan which now contains very little water and toss with 3 tbsp of creme fraiche and the flaked salmon.
  • Strewn with the fresh dill or fennel fronds, and lightly toss
  • Serve with a little freshly ground black pepper.
Delicious and so simple supper can be on the table in 15 minutes or less

This post is being linked up to "Pasta Please" created by Tinned Tomatoes and hosted this month by Slice of Me.

                                            pasta please

And Recipe of The Week over at A Mummy Too

                                                                  Link up your recipe of the week

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Tomato, courgette and sweet potato soup

Fresh, healthy homemade soup. What's not to like.....

I have probably said before that I am not a great fan of ready made soups and particularly those that come in packets and cans both for health and economy reasons, I tend to make most of the soup we eat from fresh vegetables and this recipe is no exception. Finding myself in the situation were I had a couple of courgettes and some tomatoes that were ageing fast, I thought I would combine them with butternut squash or sweet potato to make a wholesome soup, yet still summery.

A tasty easy recipe which would be a great way later in the season to use up glut tomatoes and courgettes if you have them, it looks like the recipe would freeze well but I haven't tried it.

What you need 
  • A little vegetable oil
  • Fresh or tinned tomatoes (don't worry about skins and pips as we are blending later)
  • Onion
  • Courgettes - topped tailed and sliced into half moons
  • Butternut squash or sweet potato - peeled, de-seeded(if squash) and chopped into small chunks
  • Vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
What you do 
  • Firstly prepare your vegetables
  • Gently fry in the oil the onion until softened but not coloured
  • Then add the courgette and butter nut / sweet potato to the pan
  • Again cook until starting to softened
  • Now add the tomatoes and stock to the pan
  • Simmer until all the vegetables are soft
  • Allow to cool slightly then blitz with a stick blender or in a liquidiser to desired consistency
  • Bring back to a simmer and then taste and season
  • Serve piping hot with crusty bread

We are linking up to Recipe of the Week over on A Mummy Too

                                                              Link up your recipe of the week

Meat Free Mondays over on Tinned Tomatoes


Extra Veg hosted in turn by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy

No croutons required hosted this month at Lisa's Kitchen


Friday, 10 July 2015

Aquafaba chocolate mousse aka chickpea juice chocolate mousse

Recently I made some chickpea brownies (please see earlier post) and I had recently spotted a group on facebook for something called Aquafaba (!!!), intrigued I joined the group and discovered aquafaba is actually the liquid from tins of  beans / legumes (pretty much any bean and chickpeas). Wow I thought a way of using something that you chuck down the sink, I hate waste so I thought I would give this vegan egg substitute a try, little realising that I would actively start searching out recipes which used tinned beans / chickpeas just so I could experiment with the canning liquid.

My first success is with a delightfully tasty chocolate mousse, which has no earthy after taste what so ever and has pronounced delicious by all who try it, vegan or not. This recipe would also be great for people who have egg allergies too. The mousse is light and fluffy and keeps for a few days in the fridge.

What you need
  • Juice from a tin of chickpeas
  • 100g dark chocolate - melted ( good quality at least 70% )
  • 1 tsp vanilla or coffee extract
  • Cocoa nibs for decoration
What you do 
  • Whisk up the chickpea juice in a stand mixer bowl until the soft peak stage
  • Add the melted chocolate and vanilla extract
  • Whisk again, don't panic as you will loose volume
  • Pour into ramekins
  • Place in fridge for 3 -4 hours
  • Sprinkle with cocoa nibs
  • Serve to admiring friends and family.

A perfect recipe for inclusion in Credit Crunch munch , created and co -hosted by Fab food 4 all and Fuss Free Flavours

                            Credit Crunch Munch

Monday, 6 July 2015

Chickpea brownies, a healthy gluten free treat

Ever the one to try something different I have in the past made brownies with beetroot, avocado, dates and many other ingredients, this recipe is no different but the featured ingredient being chickpeas. Yes, folks chickpeas which make these brownies lovely and fudgey and deliciously gluten free. You can't detect the chickpeas at all in the bake, these brownies keep well for a few days in an airtight tin but I assure you they won't last that long !

The added bonus is you also get the must have ingredient of the moment - aquafaba or the humble juice from the bean can, which can be whipped up in many different delights and is a useful vegan egg substitute. More of this in the next post.

What you need
  • 1 can of chickpeas - drained and rinsed, save the bean juice
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder - I used Green and Blacks
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 tsp coffee extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pack of dark chocolate chips
What you do
  • Pre heat oven to 180c
  • Oil spray and line square approx 9"by 9" cake tin
  • Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 25 - 30mins until cooked thoroughly, test with a cocktail stick
  • Cool in the tin and cut into pieces after 20 minutes or so
  • Serve alone or with creme fraiche or Greek yogurt

We are linking up to Bake of the Week over on Casa Costello

                                                            Casa Costello

And Recipe of the Week over on A Mummy Too

                                                                 Link up your recipe of the week

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Obeo - the fuss free way to deal with food waste

If you have been reading this blog for a while you may have noticed that we are passionate about supporting the local environment and as such we compost and recycle as much of our household waste as possible.

We have a three bay New Zealand bin system in the garden which produces general compost for use around the garden as a soil improver,we are also provided by our local authority a "brown " wheelie bin for compostable garden waste which is collected fortnightly and taken to a local composting site for bulk recycling.

Obeo is an Irish Company which came up with the idea of marketing a strong durable resealable brown bag which can be used to collect and store kitchen food wastes suitable for inclusion in municipal composting schemes.

We were sent a sample pack of 5 bags for us to review and trial in our kitchen, we have just recycled the last bag, so that 5 pack lasted a 2 person household just shy of a month, not bad in my humble opinion.

I am pleased to report that the bags delivered as promised and didn't leak, only on one occasion did I have an issue with the base of the bag becoming slightly moist and mouldy and I think that might have been due to the weather conditions at the time, as it was very hot and humid.

As we aren't encouraged locally to include actual cooked food waste in our municipal compost stream, our bags were used for fruit and vegetable peelings, teabags, coffee grounds, etc. Normally these would go directly onto the compost heap so we did try composting the bags also, obviously we are only a month later but the bags on the heap are still intact and look like they will take some time to break down. Ever one to try all avenues I have also placed a couple of bags in our brown waste wheelie bin too.

For everyone who hates trailing out the compost bin / wheelie bin and detests the dreaded bin juice the bags are ideal as they will sit quite neatly on your counter top for a few days whilst you fill them with no noticeably smell or leaky juices. No smell yucky kitchen caddy to handle either, just straight in the brown bin.

I also noticed on facebook that Obeo is being stocked now by Booths, fabulous local supermarket chain in the North West of England, so today whilst in store I actively sort them out and there they were on the shelf for sale, at £2.99 for 5 bags. Not sure whether its all Booths stores or just selected I think the price may put some people off , but if more people buy then I am sure the price will come down further.

Lucky reader if you fancy trying out Obeo for yourself, we have two months supply to give away free, just by entering our rafflecopter widget below.

Normal rules apply, UK and Ireland enterants only please

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Nadia Southwood of Flap O Jacks

This month's featured foodie is Nadia from Flap O Jacks, the round flapjack company from Preston, made with love and delicious natural ingredients, I have been lucky enough to sample there lovely flapjacks on several occasions and they are amazing, you can see a blog post here.

What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication?

I adore everything about Lorraine Pascale,I have all her cookery books, she makes everything so simple and understated.

What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you?

I only need two words to sum up Lancashire Food ‘wholesome and delicious’

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be?
I have a curiosity for forensics and pathology, so if I wasn’t doing what I do now I’d be a Forensic Scientist.

Which piece of kit could you not do without?
The piece of kit I couldn't do without would have to be our lovely big oven.

Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
My ultimate dinner guest would be the actor, Ray Winstone. Do you seriously need to ask me why!

What advice would you give to your younger self?
The advice I would give my younger self would be have the courage and confidence to be whatever you want to be, don’t follow the crowd, don’t join the rat race, just do whatever makes you happy.

Describe your style in three words
The three words I’d use to describe myself would be witty, motivated and thoughtful.

What was your latest foodie gadget purchase?
My latest foodies gadget purchase was a Nutribullet drinks maker, obviously this was for personal use and nothing to do with flapjacks!

What is your greatest achievement to date?

My greatest achievement to date (besides my two beautiful children) would be having the confidence to become self employed and turning Flap O Jacks into a thriving business and more recently being nominated for the EVA awards (Enterprise Vision Awards).

What is the worst mistake you have made?
The worst mistake I have made is not trusting my gut instinct. Always trust your first gut instincts. If you genuinely feel in your heart that something is wrong, it usually is.

Tell us a secret about yourself? May be something we wouldn’t expect!
I have a cleaning obsession, I’m probably verging on the borders of OCD but I love the smell of Detol in the house.


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Strawberry honey and lavender trifles, serendipity in a glass

A couple of weeks ago whilst browsing in TK Maxx I decided to treat myself to a madeleine tin and last weekend I finally got around to attempting to bake with the purchased tin, I researched quite a few recipes and I closely followed the instructions in my chosen recipe carefully buttering and flouring the tin,and deciding to add honey and lavender to the mixture.

Everything turned out fine, well mostly, other than not being able to extricate the madeline's from the tin, the actual sponge was lovely, well flavoured and light. I am not defeated and will try madeline's again but my first attempt left me with a quantity of beautiful sponge cakes that needed using up, so this trifle was born.

This easy fruity delight used the disaster sponges to great effect and ensured no waste, so definitely serendipity in a glass. According to Mr LF a trifle is not a trifle unless it contains jelly, I think this must be a hark back to his child hood so this one does contain a fruit jelly layer, but its optional.

What you need

  • Quantity of sponge cake - crumbled (mine was flavoured with 1 tbsp honey and 1 teaspoon of edible lavender flowers)
  • Splash of sherry or some other suitable alcoholic beverage (mead would be good too), if for children you could use fruit juice
  • Strawberry jelly - cubes, crystals or made from juice and gelatine, I used sparkling fruit juice drink to give the jelly sparkle
  • Chopped fresh strawberries
  • Thick custard - homemade or custard pot
  • Creme fraiche or whipped cream 
  • Fresh fruit or sprinkles to decorate
  • Small quantity of edible lavender flowers for decoration
What you do
  • Take 4 glass tumblers and crumble the sponge cake into the bottom of the glass, splash with alcohol of your choice
  • Top with a small quantity of chopped strawberries
  • Mix up your jelly according to the instructions on the packet, I also make a stronger solution so I know it going to set well and pour into the glass about a third of the way up the glass.
  • Place in the fridge to set fully
  • One set top with custard and cream layers
  • Chill again and then serve topped with a sliced strawberry and strewn with lavender flowers.
Mr LF ate 2 in one sitting, so I am taking that as a recommendation that they are good. Plenty of traditional trifle flavour but with a hint of honey and lavender.

If you fancy having a go at the madeline's (you may have better success than me) then this is the recipe I used and tweaked by adding lavender instead of vanilla.

I am linking up to Credit Crunch Munch which I feel is totally appropriate as Iam using my rejects as the basis of a new recipe. Jointly run by Fab Food for All and Fuss Free Flavours

And to No Waste Food Challenge over at Elizabeths Kitchen 


And lastly recipe of the week over A Mummy Too

Link up your recipe of the week

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Midsummer Madness at Rift & Co, Preston for South Lancashire Clandestine Cake Club

June saw our branch of Clandestine Cake Club making a visit to Rift & Co in Preston City Centre for our suitably themed event - Midsummer Madness.

Rift & Co is a cocktail bar that also serves food situated down one of Preston's most historic thoroughfares Mein Spirit Wiend, a narrow alleyway that runs on the line of an ancient burgage plot. 

We had a great time drinking cocktails and mocktails and munching on a fabulous range of cakes, we were made so very welcome by the team at Rift & Co with complimentary coffee and tea and sectioning off an area of the bar specifically for us.

We loved the funky urban vibe of the bar and the vintage style furnishings and browsed the cocktail and food menus, planning future visits.

So on to our cakes, our bakers didn't let us down and once again we had a fabulous selection of cakes. Ranging from a Mother Ruin Cake to  Blue Sea Cake and Chocoloate Malt. All equally delicious.

Rift & Co has a website here and it is a must visit if you are in town, cheers to our next event...

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Apricot upside down cake, a gorgeous fruity delight.

A few days ago whilst I was on leave from work I was wondering around my local market and I spotted some gorgeous fresh ripe apricots glinting at me in the sunshine, I only ever buy apricots when they are in peak season and that's right now folks.

Blushed with pink and slightly tender to the touch these were just about perfect, its way to early for any English apricots (I you can find any at all) and these are Spanish but they just cried out to be baked with. Its many many years since I last baked an upside down cake and that was the classic pineapple with glace cherries but this version is different, firstly it uses fresh fruit and secondly it features my new favourite spice "mahlab".

Mahlab is a middle eastern spice which I thought would marry well with the apricots, a perfect addition to the afternoon tea table in my humble opinion.

What you need
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 whole ripe apricots
  • 1 cup plain flour - gluten free blend works beautifully
  • 1/2 cup sugar - granulated
  • 1/4 cup fine polenta
  • 1/4 cup finely ground cornmeal (not cornflour)
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt mixed with a little skimmed milk until consistency of double cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp of mahlab spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
23 cm cake tin, loose bottomed - well oiled ( I brushed on oil) on base and sides

What you do

  • Pre heat the oven to 180c
  • Cut each apricot in half and remove the stone
  • In your cake tin, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly on the base of the tin, place the halved apricots face down on the sugar
  • Now to make the sponge - in a large bowl combine the flour, granulated sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, mahlab and baking powder
  • In a smaller bowl combine the yogurt and milk, eggs, melted butter, oil and vanilla
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold until blended. Do not over mix
  • Pour the mixture over the apricots and spread out evenly
  • Bake in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes or so until golden, well risen and testing cooked when you insert a cocktail stick
  • Cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes and then run a pallet knife round the tin, place a plate or serving on top of your tin and invert to remove from tin.
  • Ta dah ! upside down cake, the cake can be served warm, cool or cold. 
  • If you like serve with cream, yogurt or creme fraiche

We are linking up to Simple and in Season this month hosted by Ren Behan, as we are using lovely seasonal Apricots.


And #RecipeoftheWeek over at A Mummy Too

                                          Link up your recipe of the week

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Cranberry and citrus cookies and an 80th birthday cake.

Recently at my weekly yoga class we held an informal 80th birthday party for a lady who attend regularly and is a great advert for the benefits of yoga, amazingly enough she had just returned from a month long tour of New Zealand too, so I for one will be carrying out practising yoga as long as I can.

As part of the birthday celebration my contribution was a lemon meringue birthday, which I was pretty proud of (the base recipe being a Fiona Cairns recipe from The Birthday Cake Book), as our yoga class is a quaint country church hall I couldn't adore the cake with candles through fear of setting off the fire alarm, so I resorted to raiding the garden for suitable edible greenery and flowers. I plumped for the fragrant yellow day lily and freshly picked lemon balm leaves.

As the birthday cake was topped with blousey meringues I had a couple of egg yolks left over so I came up with this recipe which is takes it inspiration from several sources, a Gino D'Acampo recipe for sultana cookies from Italian Baking and a lemon drizzle biscuit from Biscuit by Miranda Gore Brown.

What you need
  • 85g butter - softened (needs to be very soft)
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks - left over from the meringue making
  • Couple of drops of Fiori di Silica essence (from Bakery Bits)
  • 175g plain flour - I used gluten free
  • 50g fine cornmeal
  • 85g dried cranberries - drained after being soaked in warm water for 20 minutes or so
What you do
  • Pre heat the oven to 180c
  • Mix all the ingredients except the cranberries in a mixer , until you have a course dough
  • Add the cranberries to the mix and just incorporate until the mix comes together
  • Take walnut sized lumps of dough and roll into balls, place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and flatten slightly
  • The mixture makes approximately 18 - 20 cookies
  • Bake for 15 -20 minutes until golden 
  • Cool on tray for a few minutes before carefully removing o a wire rack to cool fully
  • Store in an airtight tin
We are linking up this month to Simply Eggcellent , the theme this month being anything goes created and hosted by Dom over at Belleau Kitchen. As this is recipe that uses egg yolks after making meringues.

                                              simply eggcellent - June 2015

We are linking up to Treat Petite this month - the theme being Lets Get Fruity ! created and co hosted by Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer, as the resultant cookie is very fresh and fruity.



And also to Bake of the Week over at Casa Costello , which is a challenge for all things baking....

                                                Link up your baking posts from the last week

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