TV delicacy

Whilst watching Rick Stein’s “Long Weekends” I salivated over this dish, which Rick tried whilst in a market in Palermo. Given the simplicity of the dish, having only two ingredients; bacon and spring onions, I decided to give this a go at home.

Despite being only two ingredients ( well three if you count the butter), I must stress that the bacon has got to be good quality unsmoked bacon. Cheap bacon will have too much fat and grease.

Set a griddle pan on the heat.

Wash some spring onions and cut off the root end.

Melt some butter and brush over the spring onions. Wrap a slice of bacon around the spring onion. Repeat until all spring onions and bacon have been used.

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Place on the griddle plan and cook for a few minutes until the bacon is cooked, turning over carefully. The spring onion will still be crunchy with the strong onion flavour which works well with the salt of the bacon.

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(Don’t worry the liquid you see in the photo is actually the melted butter and not grease from the bacon).

Serve, either as a starter or as part of a main meal.

 

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Class 31, Lemon Drizzle Loaf

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Refreshing lemon drizzle loaf basking in the sun!

Euro 2016 has started, although not in our household as we are a football free zone. We aren’t big football fans ( you probably know from past posts that we are all about the rugby) and Scotland failed to make the cut anyway, so no footie is being watched by us.

Instead preparation is under way for the local agricultural show which takes place in a few weeks. No, we are not entering any sheep, cattle or horses into any of the livestock/ showing classes but I am entering some preserves and baked goods into the Produce classes. Some of the recipes I’ve not made before, so I need to practice to ensure I can actually make them and also to get the timings of each recipe right. I want to be super organised the day before the show down to even having a timetable written out to keep me on track!  Hopefully I will catch any issues during the practices rather than be faced with a horror the day before the show.

I will be also be making Strawberry Jam, but I’ve made this a few times before so I can make a batch a week before the show. In addition to the lemon drizzle loaf and jam, I will be making  brownies ( still have not decided out of the 101 recipes I have for brownies which one to go for!), Nanaimo bars and Lemonade.

I entered 3 classes last year, but I’m entering 5 different classes this year, which I think is all I can handle at this stage!

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Awards from last years show.

 

 

Class 31, Lemon Drizzle loaf ( 1lb tin) 

Surprisingly I have never made Lemon Drizzle loaf before unless a madeira cake with extra lemon in it counts?! I know there are countless recipes for this, and you probably don’t need me adding to them therefore I decided to use Mary Berry’s recipe for Lemon Drizzle cake.  Her Banana loaf recipe won me first prize at last years show so hoping this recipe will be equally as successful. Thank you, Queen of Baking!

This lemon drizzle cake recipe is really simple to make, however I felt there was not enough cake batter, even for a 1lb loaf, as the cake batter barely came up to the half way point of the tin and the cake only rose about an inch. I would prefer to double the quantities in order to pour enough of the batter into the tin to fill until about 1 inch/ 1.5 inches from the top. Obviously this will affect the baking time, so I will try this recipe out one more time before the show to gauge this.

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Ingredients

1 and 1/2 large eggs or in my case I used two medium eggs, 87.5 grams of self raising flour, 87.5 grams of Caster sugar, 87.5 grams of softened butter, 3/4 level teaspoon of baking powder, finely grated zest of 1 lemon and juice of half a lemon. The original recipe only used zest from 1/2 lemon and no lemon juice at all however I felt that this would not give the cake enough of a zesty lemon flavour. I like to be able to taste the lemon in Lemon flavoured cakes!

Topping– juice of 1/2 lemon and 50 grams of sugar.

Preheat oven to 180° C. Grease and line a 1lb loaf tin.

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Simply beat the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs, lemon zest and juice in a mixer until well combined and smooth. When the lemon juice comes into contact with the baking powder it starts to fizz and bubble, which delighted me very much! Science in action.

Pour the cake batter to the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and springy when touched.

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Mix the juice of 1/2 lemon and the sugar to make the topping and pour over the top of the still warm cake. Once cooled remove from the tin.

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First attempt at Roast Chicken!

SAM_6822This was my first ever attempt at cooking a whole chicken! I know, I know its crazy that I’ve got to 32 without cooking a whole chicken but to be honest cooking big pieces of meat has always freaked me out for a couple (or five) reasons

1) I don’t eat a lot of meat, never have and there are some meats I just will not eat such as venison, lamb, some cuts of beef ( I’ll eat mince, but not steak… go figure!).

2) As I don’t eat them, I don’t cook them and so don’t know how

3) I feel uncomfortable cooking big cuts as I’m worried I’ll poison people!

4) I can’t stand the smell of some meat cooking such as Lamb to the point that I can’t even be in the kitchen when hubbie cooks this. He loves lamb! In fact there is not a meat, he dislikes!

5) Touching some raw meat is just icky! Sorry I’m 32 going on 5 in this respect.

However, recently  I have been getting more and more confident in the Kitchen and have even cooked large pieces of pork and ham, which have turned out well. This time I thought I’d cook a whole chicken. I do like chicken and often cook thighs, wings, fillets, legs so a whole chicken was the next logical step.

Ingredients

1 whole chicken with giblets removed- I always buy Scottish meat and carefully read the label for country of origin or check for the Scottish flag, but buy what ever you prefer. I try and buy Scottish meat, butter, milk veg etc as far as possible to support Scottish farmers.

100 grams or so of Softened Butter, 2-3  lemons, 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, dried thyme and oregano ( or any other herbs you have), salt and pepper,2 cloves of garlic.

My measurements, aren’t really measurements as I didn’t really measure, but just guessed. Very scientific! Also as this was my first go I just used what I had available in the house and came up with this.

Preheat oven to 220°C

Line a roasting tin with tinfoil ( makes it easier to clean!)

Grate the zest of two lemons. Get the softened butter about 100 grams or so ( should be enough to cover the chicken, but add more if you also want to add butter mix on top and under the skin). Chop the butter into cubes and place in a bowl along with the lemon zest. Add some thyme and oregano ( or whatever dried herbs you have to hand). I used about 1/2 teaspoon of each. Well it was probably more like a heaping 1/2 teaspoon- 1 teaspoon! Add some salt and pepper then mix it all together until combined or use a fork to mash as I had to due to the butter not being as soft as it should be.

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Cut the 2 lemons in half and place in microwave for 40 seconds.

Place the chicken into the roasting tin. Then place the lemons halves in the cavity of the chicken, along with the garlic which you should crush with a knife beforehand. Pour any juice that came out of the lemons whilst in the micro into the cavity too.

Rub the butter mixture all over the chicken ( and under the skin if you want, however I didn’t do this see reason 5 above… maybe I’ll get the courage next time!). It helps at this point if the butter is really soft as it will stick to the chicken and make it easier to rub all over.  In my photo below you can see, from the clumbs of butter is wasn’t as soft as it should be! I even ended up placing some of the butter into a micro for 10 seconds.

Place the springs of rosemary into the chicken cavity. I used rosemary from my garden however as we don’t have a huge amount growing at the moment and what we have has been eaten by Rabbits I only used two springs, but you could use more or even chop up a sprig or two and add to the butter mixture before rubbing on chicken.

I had a extra lemon lying about so squeezed half over the top of the chicken then sprinkled some salt and pepper over the top.

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Turn down the oven to 190°C and then place the chicken in the oven. I cooked the chicken for about 1 hour and 35 minutes, until the juices ran clear. I also used a meat thermometer to check too, helping me to avoid reason 3!

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Chocolate Orange Cake and Sunday Shenanigans

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How gorgeous is this location !

I dragged my hubbie to watch the horse trials at Floors Castle on Sunday, and according to him ” they were all guilty”. Groan……. him and his naff jokes. He says this one every time about horse trials.

 

He isn’t overly enamoured with horses ( to be honest most farmers/ agric’s I’ve met aren’t and he often refers to them as hay burners! ) so to appease him whilst there I treated him to a hog roast, which he said wasn’t as good as mine! Awww hubbie is a sweetie. I was very pleased with that compliment. He also got ice cream, which keep him quiet for all of 10 seconds.

Once home, I also decided to make him a cake to thank him for spending the whole day surrounded by horses. Cake is definitely the way we show love in our house! He loves chocolate oranges and chocolate orange flavoured desserts so I decided to make Chocolate Orange Cake. It is also a cake that I always have the ingredients for and its so simple to whip up that I don’t actually need to look at a written recipe,however due to this I’m not entirely sure were it originally came from. I have a feeling it could be a Nigella recipe but from which book or show I’m not sure! Also apart from the 50 mins cooking time, it really takes no time at all to make.

Now if you don’t like orange or marmalade then this is not the cake for you unless you substitute the marmalade for another kind of preserve or jam. Although I haven’t yet done this so not sure which flavours would work best,maybe raspberry or strawberry would work well with the dark chocolate or even substituting the dark choc for white choc along with the raspberry jam would add a whole new dynamic. Plenty ways to jazz this one up to suit individual tastes.

Ingredients

150 grams of butter, 100 grams of dark chocolate, 2 beaten eggs, 150 grams of caster sugar, pinch of salt, 300 grams of thick cut marmalade ( I prefer thick cut so you get lovely bits of yummy marmalade dotted throughout the cake) , 150 grams of self raising flour, tablespoon of icing sugar- see, very easy to remember!

Pre-heat  oven to 180°C and grease a 8 inch cake tin.

In a saucepan start to melt the butter, then once nearly melted add the chocolate. Take off the heat and stir until the chocolate is melted. Then add the beaten eggs, sugar, salt and marmalade and mix until well combined. The mixture does appear quite lumpy at this point but that’s just the marmalade, no need to worry. Then add the flour in small amounts to the mixture and whisk until combined. See, very simple recipe!

Once combined add the mixture to your cake tin and bake for between 40-50 mins.

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Remove from oven, leave to cool and remove from cake tin. Using a sieve give the top of the cake a dusting with icing sugar. Then serve with a cuppa and enjoy.

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No Churn Crunchie Ice Cream and No Scottish Summer!

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I was very premature in thinking a couple of sunny days meant Summer had arrived and of course Summer meant eating ice lollys and ice cream to cool down with. Unfortuntely Scottish Summer lasted all of about 5 seconds and in the same day we had wind, rain and snow! It reeks havoc with my wardrobe decisions I tell ya!

However, while the sun was in the sky I did manage to whip up some home made no churn ice cream. I’m also fortunate that my hubbie will eat ice cream come sun, rain or snow. He has even been known to get an ice cream cone from the local ice cream shop on a Winters day and go for a walk eating his ice cream. According to him its the best time to eat ice cream because the temperature is so cold, it doesn’t melt and drip all over your hand before you’ve had a chance to eat it all! There is crazy logic there somewhere which has me thinking  ( and not for the first time) that hubbie is either an evil genius or slightly mad or,  since in most movies the evil genius that trys to take over the word is mad, both.

This is a great recipe if, like me, you don’t own an ice cream maker ( I stay in Scotland, so refer back to first paragraph for the reason why I don’t own one!).

Ingredients

600ml Double cream

200 grams of condensed milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla

3 crunchie bars ( chocolate covered honeycomb)

Combine the cream, condensed milk and vanilla in the mixing bowl on your stand mixer and mix until thick.

Place the crunchies in a sandwich bag and use a rolling pin to bash into chunks, a mix of big bits and small bits. Fold the crunchie bits into the cream/milk mixture.

Pour the mix into a container that you can put in the freezer. If you have crunchies left ( I didn’t) you could sprinkle some over the top before covering container with cling film and with the container lid. I usually place in the Freezer overnight.

The cream and condensed milk is your basic recipe, which you can add anything to, to make different flavours of ice cream such as the variations below:

Coffee: Make up some coffee and add a tablespoon or so ( dependant on your tastes and kind of coffee) to the cream and milk and mix together well until thick.

Chocolate: Add some cocoa powder, about 3/4 cup to the cream ( add more to taste depending on how rich you like your chocolate ice cream), condensed milk and vanilla, then mix well until thick. Fold in chopped chips.

Rocky Road: Make the chocolate ice cream. Fold in some chopped chips and/ or chopped nuts and bashed digestives to the mix along with mini marshmallows

Mint Choc Chip: Replace the vanilla with some peppermint extract and also add some green food colouring to the cream/ milk and mix well. Fold in some chopped chocolate or chocolate chips.

Caramel: Add some caramel sauce to the already mixed cream/milk mixture and fold well. You could add some salt too to make Salted Caramel.

Oreo: Fold in some bashed up Oreos to the basic ice cream mix.

Or just add your favourite sweetie or candy!

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Hamming it up for Easter!

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Apologises for the dodgy and dark photography, which isn’t doing the ham the justice it deserves.

 

Happy Easter!!! The ‘In laws’ were staying this weekend and they kicked off Easter Sunday with a walk around the farm, a very cold, windy, slightly rainy and sleety at time, bracing walk. It swept away the beer and wine from last night by the looks of them when they came back in the door! I, however spent my Sunday morning in bed, then panicked when I remembered that the clocks went forward and it was actually 11am and not 10am. Hence, cooking the Easter dinner in PJ’s. Although my cooking preparation started the day before, so I didn’t have a huge amount to do.

On the Saturday, whilst hubby was player rugger, I was in the kitchen………

Ingredients

2kg British unsmoked boneless gammon joint, 1 organic leek, chopped, 1 organic onion, peeled and chopped, left over celery sticks,chopped, 3 organic carrots, peeled and chopped, one cinnamon stick, broken in half, 1 teaspoon crushed peppercorns, 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds.

In a large pan ( as you can see my pan was nearly overflowing), place all the vegetables, cinnamon stick, peppercorns ,coriander seeds and the gammon joint, then cover with cold water. Bring water to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer. I simmered for about 20 minutes per 450 kg, so it took about 1 hour and half simmering.  Remove from pan and leave to cool completely before placing in fridge.

I left the stock to cool then poured the stock into freezer bags.  To make it easier, wedge the freezer bag into a large jug then pour the stock into the bag and, before tying the bag, remove excess air by squeezing the top of bag, then tie the bag and place upright in a plastic food container . This will help to freeze it in a easy to store shape and the boxes can be removed later. Then place in freezer to be used the next time you make soup!

On the Sunday about 11:01am ……..

Ingredients

Ham: Cloves

Glaze: 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of dejon mustard, 1 1/2 tablespoons of apple vinegar and 350mls of Dr Pepper

Sides: 3 Organic carrots, peeled and cut into sticks, 2 large and wonky organic parsnips, peeled and cut into sticks, 9 organic potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters, 2 teaspoons of corn flour.

Preheat oven to 165 °C. Take the ham out the fridge, score the top of the ham in one direction with a knife and then another direction to form diamonds. Where the lines meet, stick a clove in. Once all “cloved ” up place the ham on the oven tray, then place in oven. In the mean time, make up the glaze. I used Pioneer Woman’s recipe, but there are so many variations of glaze, just have a search online for one you would prefer.  Place  the brown sugar, dejon mustard, apple vinegar and 350mls of Dr Pepper into a pan, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Cook the ham for 38 minutes ( really random number, but that was just when the glaze was ready!). Take out the oven and then cover the ham with the glaze. Pop back into the oven for another 20 minutes, then take out and cover with glaze. Place back in the oven for 20 minutes and then take out and glaze again. Place back in oven for 10 minutes. To be honest, the last 10 minutes were not required, it was ready after 1 hours and 20 minutes, but I wanted to give it another glaze. So again roughly it was 20 minutes per 450kg, but you may want to follow your own packet or butchers instructions for cooking the ham.

I served the ham with some mashed potatoes, roasted carrots and parsnips but you could serve it with whatever kind of veg you want to.

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‘Cos wonky veg tastes good too!

 

Sorry, I forgot to get a photo of the finished meal, as once hubby carved the ham, we portioned the ham on individual plates and hurried to the table so we could all add our own portions of potatoes and roasted veg ,which were on the table already, and devour the goodness whilst it was all still warm.

We also had glaze left in the saucepan so I added about 2 teaspoons of cornflour to thicken it up, so it could be served as a gravy/ sauce.

There were some leftovers, so about 2kg could probably do 5-6 people comfortably. Hubby will have some awesome pieces ( sandwiches) tomorrow!

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Yummy yummy!

Afters or pudding or dessert or whatever your family call it, was Strawberry Shortcake cake. I’ll put the recipe for this up in a separate blog post.

I’m now away to see whether I can put myself into a chocolate induced coma after consuming my Easter eggs! Yes, I’m a 32 year old who still gets chocolate eggs for Easter! Don’t judge me…

Hope you all had a lovely Easter whatever you were doing!

 

 

Pretty little lemon and blueberry cake

I made this cake as I was supposed to be going into work today ( or my soon to be ex work) to say bye to my colleagues and pack up my locker and desk, however due to it being Easter Weekend tomorrow some of my colleagues took extra days off work to have an even longer holiday, so at the last minute it was decided that I would re-schedule my visit. My colleagues had demanded I bring cake  ( man, they looooovvvvveeeee cake) on my visit, so the cake was already baked and iced.   Oh well, what a pity there will be more cake for me and hubby! Score!!

I found this recipe for Lemon and blueberry drizzle cake on the Goodtoknow website and immediately decided I had to make it. Not just because lemon and blueberry is one of my favourite flavour ( try saying that 3 times fast) combos but because it looked so pretty with the pink icing and flowers scattered on top. I’m such a girl and this is definitely a girly cake, in fact it could be the ASOS of desserts.

Ingredients

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Oops forgot the butter, the lemon and the edible wafer daisies. Use your imagination and pretend they are in the photo!

 

Loaf: 125 grams butter, 125 grams caster sugar, 3 medium eggs ( I only had two large eggs left so only used two) , 175g self raising flour, an additional 1 tablespoon of flour, zest of 1 lemon, 100 grams blueberries.

Syrup: 50 grams caster sugar, 4 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Icing: 125 grams icing sugar ( powdered sugar), 1 teaspoon of blueberry converse, edible wafer daisies.

Preheat oven to 170° C. Grease and line a 2lb loaf pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and zest and mix until combined and light. Before folding in the blueberries, toss them in the additional 1 tablespoon of flour. This will help to prevent them moving to the bottom of the mixture whilst in the loaf pan ( or it should do however from the photo of a slice of the cake you can see some still sank !). Spoon the mix into the loaf pan ( and you will need to spoon as the mix isn’t that runny so you can’t pour it in). Smooth the top of the mix, make sure its evenly dispersed then cover with tinfoil. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Then uncover and cook for a further 20 minutes  or until a cocktail stick or cake tester comes out clean and the loaf is golden and springy. Please note I checked the cake after 10 minutes and it was still wet inside, so my cake did need the 20 minutes, however ovens will differ, so you may want to check after 10 minutes to be sure.

Whilst the cake is baking combine the ingredients for the syrup in a pan, bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, then take off the heat. The sugar should be dissolved.

Once the cake is out the oven, spoon over the syrup and leave to cool for 30 minutes.  Then remove the cake from the tin and at this point I removed the sides of the baking paper or grease proof paper but did not remove the paper from the bottom as the cake was really quite soft. Leave to cool completely, then remove the remaining paper.

Placed the loaf on a cooling tray, but with a baking tray underneath to capture the icing.

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, then place a teaspoon of the blueberry conserve into a sieve and press/ rub the conserve through the sieve and scrape the underside of the sieve so that the conserve drops into the icing sugar. Add a few drops of water to the icing sugar and mix . You don’t want the icing sugar to be too runny but you want it to be able to flow off the sides of the loaf slightly. Spoon the mixture over the top of the loaf and then add the edible wafer daisies to decorate. Leave to set.

After the icing had set, I attempted to move the loaf from the rack onto a plate and the movement created some creases in the icing, as you can probably see from the photo at the top of the page in comparison with the photo above on the right.Oh well, I think it still looks pretty and I love that you can see the speckles of the blueberry converse in the icing too. Hubby told me I definitely had to make this cake again, so it must mean it was good!

This was such as easy recipe to make and a lovely variation on the classic lemon drizzle cake. It would definitely make a lovely addition to an Easter meal or just a cake to have on hand for visitors who will pop in for a cuppa over the weekend.  You could also vary the decoration on top, adding your own creative flare or even adding real edible flowers. The original recipe used violas brushed in egg whites and dipped with caster sugar or you could use any leftover blueberries or lemon zest sprinkled on top.

Enjoy and Happy Easter!

What will you be you be making over Easter weekend? Feel free to comment or email me your recipes or Easter cooking ideas or menus at weebluemixer@gmail.com