Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Easy Yorkshires: cooking for one

Everyone I know loves Yorkshire puds.  I certainly do but recently I have been singularly unsuccessful in making them as they have ended up solid and soggy rather than light and crispy.   I know all about the hot fat and the not opening the oven door but still no luck.

Brian Turner.
Fortunately, an online friend, Rachel, told me about the recipe she uses which is based on a Brian Turner recipe found here.

As you can see, if you follow the link, it is based not on weight but on volume/capacity.  Three cheers.  I know they freeze well but one person does not necessarily want twelve little puddings at one time.

As I wasn't sure, I used a bun tin with smaller spaces and I ended up with six little puds.  To my shame, I ate them all.  So if you use a muffin tin or similar, I would say the amounts below would make four puddings, two for straight away and two (if you have the self control) for the freezer.

Ingredients based on one egg (easily scaled up)
1 medium egg (which was 50 mls)
The same volume of half and half milk and water (so 25mls milk and 25 mls water)
50 mls plain flour
a pinch of salt, a grinding of black pepper and a dash of vinegar
(Mr Turner says he has no idea what the vinegar does but it is part of his granny's recipe so he uses it)

Preheat the oven to 220 - it needs to be smoking hot.  Put a little fat in whatever you are using to bake them in - I used a little cake tray and turkey dripping.  Put the tray into the oven to get really hot.

You need to measure the egg first, then pour it into a small bowl and wash and dry the container.
Measure out the same volume of plain flour and add to a clean bowl. Then measure out half the volume of milk and half of water.  Add the milk, water and egg to the flour and beat well into a batter.  Add a pinch of salt, a little pepper and a dash of vinegar.

Pour the batter into the smoking hot baking tray - the batter should sizzle as it goes in.
Pop into the oven and bake until done.  If you make smaller Yorkshires they will be cooked quicker but don't open the oven door until nearly the end.  Mine seemed to do quite quickly - around 15 to 20 mind but bigger ones would take longer.

That's it!  They were lovely.  I think I have found my easily remembered and successful template recipe for Yorkshires.  Better late than never!

Monday, 28 December 2015

Leftover turkey curry

Another very rambly idea . . . I'm useless at writing out concise recipes, there's too many ifs, buts and maybes!  I hope it makes sense.
If you can follow it, this makes a very tasty way of using up those turkey leftovers.  It's very, very adaptable and could use a lot more veg and less meat and still be tasty.  It is from the idea, start, taste and add school of cooking!  As most of it is Christmas leftovers and cupboard stuff, it is a surprisingly frugal outcome for such 'rich' ingredients

Ingredients (variable, depending on what you've got, sorry)

  • half a big onion, chopped
  • a dollop of butter
  • a squeeze of garlic puree
  • some curry paste - I used Patak's balti paste because that's what I had in the fridge but different pastes will give you a different end flavour (obviously)
  • leftover Christmas veg.  I had some parsnips, some sprouts and some potato
  • some mango chutney, chopped into bits if it has pieces in (must put mango chutney on the shopping list now)
  • some coconut milk - I have some coconut milk powder and I mixed it into a liquid with some water.
  • some mango powder because I have some.  It adds a bit of citrussy/sour flavour and balances the mango chutney very nicely.  It's very optional and I used it because I had it, not because the dish would be ruined if I didn't add it!
  • some creme fraiche - it would have been yogurt but I had used up the yogurt so I used up the creme fraiche instead.  It was half fat.
  • some chunks of left over turkey, both brown and white meat - brown has so much flavour and a great texture and is not to be sniffed at!  I used my eyes to judge how much.  I also added a bit of leftover ham too.
  • a sprinkle of salt
  • a squidge of chilli puree - because I wanted a bit more heat.  I don't like very hot curries but I like a bit of tingle on the tongue!
  • a ladle of turkey stock because it looked a bit solid and I had the last remains of the carcass simmering on the hob as I made the curry!  Water or other stock would be fine
  • and lastly . . .  a good splash of cream because I had some and it needed using

so - a luxury leftover curry

Saute the onion gently in the butter until it is lovely and soft and turning golden but not catching.
Add the garlic puree and give it a few more minutes.  Keep it very low.
Then add the curry paste, stir it well and leave it on very low to smurge together and develop flavour.

(I was doing other things at the same time so there was a lot of 'leave it on the lowest possible heat' stuff going on which works really well with curries as the flavours develop)

Add the cooked vegetables and mix well.  Add the mango chutney.  Add the coconut milk, the mango powder, the creme fraiche, the meat, salt and chilli puree.  Mix it all together gently and well.  If it is thick, add some stock or some water.

Keeping it on low, simmer it, stirring occasionally, for a little while.  Add cream if you have it and fancy it.

It was dead easy and knock-out delicious!

Thursday, 24 December 2015


I made stollen yesterday.  I've never made it before but there was some marzipan left over and I didn't want to waste it.

I used a very simple recipe because it was first time.  I don't think it is complete because there's no mention of spices (I put some in anyway!) but it came out well and tastes absolutely delicious so I thought I would share the link with you anyway.

(I also used port to soak the fruit because I had no rum.)

Here it is.

I will trawl around for other recipes when I have a bit more time.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Gluten free stuffing for Christmas

Ingredients to make ten to twelve little patties.

1 medium onion, very, very finely chopped
around three rashers of back bacon with the rind removed (render it down for nice bacon fat, if you want), zizzed into almost a paste
a squeeze of garlic puree
20g + 30g butter
around 130g gluten free breadcrumbs (I made some gf bread and used the crust ends to make the breadcrumbs)
dried sage (or fresh)
half a medium egg, whisked (I made pancakes with what was left so no waste)
about 60g dried cranberries
a bit of port
some chopped walnuts (about the same amount, in volume, as the cranberries)
oil for frying

Method using Thermione.
Pour some port over the cranberries a few hours before and leave.

I used Thermione to make the breadcrumbs, then set them aside and used the same bowl.

In the bowl place the onion, the bacon and 20g of the butter.  Zizz briefly to chop very finely, then cook at 90, speed 2 for about ten minutes.  Add the garlic puree in the last two minutes.

Add the 30g butter, breadcrumbs, sage to taste (I added around 1 heaped tsp, I think), a very little salt (the bacon will have added salt) and some black pepper and mix on 2 for a few moments until all mixed together.

Add the egg and mix on 1 until all combined, then add the walnuts and the cranberries (but not the port - drink that, it's lovely)!  Reverse mix on 1.

Tip the stuffing into a bowl and use your hands to bring together into small patties.  Fry them in a little oil until brown on both sides.


Usual method
Pour some port over the cranberries a few hours before and leave.

Use a processor to make the breadcrumbs and set aside.
Pop in the onion and bacon and zizz together.

Melt 20g butter in a pan, add the bacon/onion mixture and sizzle for around ten minutes, stirring well.  Add the garlic puree in the last five minutes

Add the 30g butter, breadcrumbs, sage to taste (I added around 1 heaped tsp, I think), a very little salt (the bacon will have added salt) and some black pepper and continue to cook, stirring to mix it all in.

Tip the mixture into a bowl, add the 30g butter, walnuts and strained cranberries and mix well to melt the butter.  Allow to cool a bit.  Then add the egg, go in with your hands (as Delia used to say) and squidge it all together.  Shape into patties and fry as above.

I have frozen the patties individually and will reheat them on The Day, probably in Handy Andy (halogen oven).

Friday, 11 December 2015

Jam: the 'template' recipe

I wouldn't use the method below for strawberry jam; it requires a different method.

How to make jam

some suitable fruit
granulated sugar
lemon juice, if needed

Notice there are no amounts.  That's because the amount of sugar depends on the amount of fruit.

You will also need
clean, warm jam jars with lids
a saucepan or a maslin pan depending on how much you're making
a jam funnel (optional but I wouldn't be without mine)
labels because you think you will remember but you don't, like things in the freezer - I use Avery labels (or similar and cheaper)

Clean and prepare the fruit (e.g. take out stones).  I usually leave the skin on unless it is very tough.

Warm the very clean jam jars in a cool oven.

Put the fruit in a saucepan with some water - not too much, just enough to prevent sticking.  Do NOT add sugar at this point.  Bring to a boil and gently simmer until the fruit is soft.  Stir occasionally.

Measure how much fruit mixture you have.  For every pint of fruit mixture use one lb of sugar.  (metric doesn't work here) If you want to use less sugar, do so, but the jam won't keep nearly so well.

Put the fruit and the sugar back in the saucepan (make sure it is large enough as the cooking jam bubbles up) together with lemon juice if needed/used and stir it all well to dissolve the sugar.  If your fruit mixture is warm, the sugar dissolves more quickly.  If it is cold, heat it all gently, stirring well, and don't let it boil until all the sugar has dissolved.

If using the wrinkle test for setting, put two saucers in the fridge or, if possible, the freezer.

Bring the jam mixture to a rolling boil, stirring well.  If you get scum, skim it off.  Boil the jam well for five minutes or so, stirring regularly, then remove from the heat and test for set (see previous entry).  If it has not reached setting point, reboil for another five minutes or so.

Once setting point is reached, skim off any remaining scum, if you want to, or add a knob of butter and stir it is which reduces the scum.  Leave the jam to stand for five minutes, then carefully (it is VERY hot) ladle into the hot jam jars.  I find using a funnel cuts down amazingly on stick mess.
Screw the lids on tightly.
Don't label until cold, not because the labels won't stick, they will, but they are the very devil to remove afterwards if they go onto hot jars!  Bitter experience, believe me!

Enjoy your jam!

Jam: intro

I found some old plums while sorting out my fridge yesterday.  After umming and ahing I made some plum and star anise jam which is lovely.  It set me thinking about a sort of 'template' recipe for jam.
Before I give that there's a few things to go over.

1.  Pectin.  Some fruits are low in pectin and some are higher.  Pectin is essential for setting.  If there's not enough pectin your jam won't set.  If I don't know, I google and here's a useful site for info.  Scroll down for a table of info but actually the whole page is informative, albeit not terribly attractive.
My plums were very ripe so I added some lemon juice.  Works a treat!  You can buy jam sugar which has added pectin and that also works well but it is dearer than ordinary sugar.  You can also buy pectin but I never have so cannot comment, and according to the link above you can make pectin.  Something to go on the list, I suspect.

2.  Setting point.  This page says it all - I do the wrinkle test!   Works for me.
You can also find youtube clips that explain and show.

3.  Jam jars.  Use ones you have recycled (keep the lids too) if possible.  I clean them either in the dishwasher or in very hot, soapy water.  I keep them warm in a cool oven on a baking tray of some kind.  How many?  No idea, it depends on how much fruit.  I make a guesstimate and add a couple more for luck.
If you don't have any you can buy them.  Hobby craft and Lakeland both sell jam jars although they are expensive.  I prefer to use the Jam Jar Shop for price and for variety.

4.  Ditto with sugar.  How much depends on how much cooked fruit you have.  A pint of fruit equals a pound of sugar, more or less.

5.  Ditto with any extra flavours.  I know plums go well with star anise so I usually pop one into the first stage, cooking the fruit, removing it before jarring the jam.  Port or other alcohol needs to go in nearer the end of the whole process.  Read up about it - I always do and bless Google.

6.  If the above sounds very casual, it's because it is.  Housewives/keepers were making jam long before the scientific stuff was discovered.  I'm kind of gung-ho with it all now and rarely have a failure.  The worst that can happen is that the stuff hasn't set and you can add more lemon juice and reboil until it does.  The flavour will change with longer cooking but not in a bad way.
The most important thing is to be very clean, sterilise your jars, wash your fruit and don't use any fruit that has actually gone 'off'.

The template recipe is in the next post.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Christmas leftovers: mincemeat scrolls

I had some mincemeat left over and fancied trying these.  I've not made much sweet dough so it was a bit ad hoc but the results were great.  The recipe below made twelve little scrolls and, unfortunately, several seemed to vanish before they reached the freezer.  How strange.  I don't have an elf on the shelf so it's a puzzle!!!

This is NOT what I made.  I've posted it to show what I mean by scrolls.  Mine were smaller and much, much nicer (of course!)
I shall make more before Christmas as they will be absolutely scrummy on the Christmas Eve buffet table and  are a great alternative to mince pies.

220g strong flour
half tsp dried yeast - the kind for breadmakers
a scant half tsp salt
2 heaped tsps sugar (I just used granulated but some of the brown sugars might be nice)
30 g butter
1 tbsp dried milk powder
a really good pinch of garam masala (it's great for sweet spiciness but if you don't fancy it, use cinnamon or allspice)
130mls warm water (or maybe orange juice would be nice - I didn't use any so can't say but perhaps I will try that next time)

chopped walnuts (or other nuts to own taste)
dried cranberries
maple syrup
(some alcoholic something might be nice too!)

The thermomix way
Into the bowl; place the flour, salt, yeast, sugar, dried milk, garam masala and cubed butter.  Zizz it around a bit until the butter has breadcrumbed and everything is mixed.
Add the warm water.
Knead for 15 mins (I read that sweet dough needs more kneading because it is a wetter, softer dough).
(Or - the usual way, place ingredients in a bowl, rub in the butter, add water and mix, then knead until you have a smooth, stretchy dough)

This is actually a very soft enriched dough which can feel quite messy to start with but be patient, it does come together.  If you're really unhappy about how soft and sticky it is, add a little more flour.  If it seems to be too firm and dry, add a little more water.

When finished, tip out onto a floured surface, knead briefly into a ball (it was so soft I used a dough scraper) and place in an oiled bowl.  Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until double the size.

Tip the dough out onto a floured (or oiled) surface and bash back - it handled better after the rising, I found.  Shape into a rectangle and roll it out, keeping rectangular proportions.  You want a length long enough to roll up like a swiss roll while the width will depend on how much flour, etc, you used.  I rolled it quite thin.

First, mix together in a bowl your mincemeat, chopped nuts, dried cranberries and maple syrup (and whatever else you fancy) and mix well.
Over the dough, sprinkle  some sugar (I used demerara), then spread over the mincemeat mix.  Not too thick but there should be a thin coating over the whole dough, some of which will be the liquid rather than dried fruit - no white spaces!  Onto that sprinkle some more sugar.

Starting at one end, carefully roll up the dough as you would roll a swiss roll, not too loose.  Then cut the resulting 'sausage' into slices, each around one inch thick, maybe a little less.  I got twelve, two of which were the ends.  I slid my sausage onto a chopping board and used a sharp cleaver.

(It did occur to me that I could prove and bake it in a sausage and I will try that at some point!)

Line a small roasting dish (one with sides) with parchment that you have scrunched up so it takes the shape of the dish.
Carefully place each  slice in the dish fairly close to each other (mine fitted 3x4).
Sprinkle more sugar over the top.  Cover with cling film and leave to prove.  When about doubled in size, place in a preheated oven, 170 C (fan) and bake for around half an hour.  Towards the end, cover the top with some foil.
Then lift the whole lot out of the roasting dish, paper and all, and place back in the oven for another five minutes (keep the foil on)  I did this to make sure the 'underneath' was properly baked in the middle after recalling Mr Hollywood's comments about raw dough on Bake Off.

Then place the scrolls (which should be joined together) upside down on a cooling rack and peel off the parchment.  The scrolls should be gooey and sticky and luscious.  Allow to cool somewhat before pulling off the first scroll and sampling it.  I tested the ends first and then - er - a few others!

They would be nice with icing drizzled over or - what I will do next time - dredge over some icing sugar!

After all that I did mean to take a photo but forgot so you will have to take my word for it that they are wonderful!