Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Strawberry gin/vodka

I've posted about this before, ages ago, so it's time for an update and it's the right time of year too.  I've used my own strawberries but you don't HAVE to, shop bought ones are just as good in this.

200g hulled and chopped strawberries (no bad bits)
160g granulated sugar
700ml bottle gin or vodka (or 750ml, it's not too important)

You will also need a couple of bottles with air tight lids.  A 1 litre bottle is not big enough.

After picking over the fruit to remove any bad bits and washing, if necessary, put the weighted fruit and sugar in a bowl and mash well together.
Then add the gin or vodka and stir well.

Using a funnel, ladle the mix into the bottles - if the fruit bits stick, push it through with a spoon handle or (what I did) a clean finger.  Just use your eye to judge if there's an even amount of 'mush' in each bottle.  Leave a bit of air space at the top.

Screw on the lid and give the contents a good shake.  Label the bottle.

Shake the bottled every day until the sugar is completely dissolved.  You can tell because before shaking, any undissolved sugar will settle at the bottom.  Then store in a dark, cool place, shaking them when you think of it, until Christmas (or whenever, but several months later).

You could sieve off the fruity pulp but last year dad didn't and it was delicious in the drink.  If you do, don't waste it, use it in a trifle or in yogurt or on ice cream or . . . well, you get the idea.  Don't waste it - it is wonderful!

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Chicken, strawberry and walnut salad

I made this the other day and it was so unexpectedly delicious that I'm sharing.  I just wish I had taken a photo or two.

Ingredients: to serve one

half a cooked chicken breast, chopped
four walnut halves, roughly chopped
four strawberries, quartered
another strawberry for garnish

for the salad base:
shredded lettuce
other salady bits, cut small - to own choice

For the dressing
10 mls mayo
10 mls of natural yogurt
10 mls balsamic vinegar


Put the salady bits in the plate/bowl and spread out.

Make the dressing by whisking the ingredients together until smooth

Put the chicken, walnuts and strawberries in a bowl, add the dressing and mix.  Pile onto the salad base and garnish with a strawberry.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Yogurt scones

I made these this morning, reducing the quantities to a quarter because it was just a try out for next week.

Very nice, very easy, a lovely, fluffy interior, so I'm sharing.

The recipe is here.   I made four so the full amount would make about 16, depending on the size of your cutter.

The quarter quantities are
125g plain flour
25g caster sugar
6g baking powder
tiny pinch salt
30g cold butter
about 60mks natural yogurt
beaten egg to glaze

I followed the instructions in the link above and baked them in the halogen oven.  Very, very nice indeed.  Another way of using my home made yogurt.

I have eaten one (well, you have to, don't you?) and shall freeze the other three

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Mediterranean smoked cod

To serve one

a piece of smoked cod for one - I asked the fishmonger to cut a piece off a larger amount and he was quite happy to do so.
A mixture of suitable veg - I used red pepper, mushroom and tomatoes chopped into smallish bits
half tsp olive oil
some chives, snipped small
some black pepper.  No salt as the cod is salty.
squeeze lemon juice

Preheat oven to around 200

Take a piece of foil large enough to wrap the fish and more.

Put the veg into a bowl, pour over the oil and mix well.  Stir in the chives and some black pepper.  Spoon onto the foil.
Put the fish on top.

Wrap the veg and fish with the foil, making sure the edges are all sealed.
Place the parcel on an oven tray and bake for half an hour.

Unwrap carefully.  Remove the fish, wrap in clean foil and keep warm.
Place the veg back in oven open and bake for another five minutes or so on high to reduce the liquid and just very slightly char the veg.

Serve with green veg and a squeeze of lemon juice.

It was very nice indeed.

Oat bran galette

This isn't my recipe.  I found it on the Internet and adapted it to match what I usually have in store.  It's from something called the Dukan attack phase which probably sounds more alarming than it really is.

I made it this morning and had it with natural yogurt (home made), blueberries (bought) and strawberries (from the garden) and it was scrummy and so easy that I thought I would share.

Ingredients to make one pancake.
1 egg (I used medium)
one and a half tbsp oat bran
one and a half tbsp natural yogurt
a tiny pinch salt (might miss this out next time)
half tsp Stevia (a sugar substitute I am trying out) or you could use real sugar.  I might try it without.
a tiny bit of veg oil

Brush a tiny bit of veg oil on a pancake sized frying pan (you could use a bigger one but I like one in particular because it is just the right size) and put on a fairly hot hob to heat.  As it is non stick, I am wondering how necessary the oil actually is.  One to test, I think.

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine them well.

When the pan is hot, pour in the mixture and fry for about three minutes or so on either side.

Remove, cover with fruit and yogurt and eat straight away!   Mmmmmm.

You would think - oat bran, must be heavy - but it's not, it's a bit fluffy and filling too.  I think this is going to be a regular breakfast from now on, it is so easy.

I am sure it would freeze so you could make more, wrap them well and pop them in the freezer

Friday, 17 June 2016

Dead easy smoked salmon pate

Not only is this dead easy, it is also dead delicious too!  I've just made it and one little pack of trimmings makes four good portions.

small pack smoked salmon trimmings
some soft cheese (I used Morrisons value and it was fine)
lemon juice

(Amounts are to eye really - you can always add more soft cheese or lemon juice if you haven't added enough.

You could add black pepper but I didn't want to.  No salt needed because the salmon is salty.

Place the salmon, cheese and lemon juice in a small processor or in a jug into which you can get a stick blender.
Zizz it all up together until more or less smooth.
Taste and add more cheese/lemon juice if you want.


Monday, 13 June 2016

Spicy sauce

This is my favourite sticky sauce.  It's adaptable and can be used as a marinade too.

It is from that lovely old Readers Digest book, The Cookery Year which has now been out of print for many a year (mine is dated 1974) although you can get hold of it second hand as I discovered last week.  As it's no longer generally available, I think I am OK to post the recipe, especially as I have adapted it a little bit.

Here's the recipe for the sauce.
4 tbsp clear honey
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp ketchup
garlic, crushed
mustard powder
salt and black pepper
juice of a small orange
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
lemon juice
(many of these are to taste - the recipe doesn't give specific amounts)

Bung all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk well to combine.  Taste and adjust if necessary

How to use it depends on what you're doing and the oven temperature.  It doesn't take long before it thickens and you have to watch it doesn't burn.

Spare ribs.  Bake the ribs, covered, until nearly done, then spoon over the sauce and pop back in the oven, uncovered, until sticky.

Sausages.  As spare ribs but I don't cover them.

Salmon.  I add a bit to the uncooked fish, then do it up in a parcel and bake, uncovering for just the last little while.

Chicken:  Spoon over for the last 15 mins or so.  I have yet to try it on stir fried chicken chunks.

You get the idea, I am sure.

I make up a batch and divide it into 5 portions which I pot and freeze.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

oatcakes (bannocks)

This was the recipe I used.  I'm really sorry but I can't remember where I got it.  If it comes to me, I will post a link.  It is not my creation and I take no credit for it.

I made half these quantities as I didn't want loads.

From Google Images.
225g oats
60g wholewheat flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60g butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
60-80ml hot water

Pre-heat the oven to 190C.
Mix together the oats, flour, salt, sugar and bicarbonate of soda.
Add the butter and rub together until everything is mixed and has the consistency of large bread crumbs.
Add the water (from a recently boiled kettle) bit by bit and combine until you have a somewhat thick dough. The amount of water varies, depending on the oats.
Sprinkle some extra flour and oats on a work surface and roll out the dough to approx. 1/2cm thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes (the final number of oatcakes depends - of course - on the size of cutter you use. 

Place the oat cakes on a baking tray and bake for appprox. 20-30mins. or until slightly golden brown.

I used Thermione so the oats became oat flour really.  I only had wholewheat bread flour so used that in preference to white.  
They are maybe a bit too salty for my taste.  I'll cut the salt down somewhat next time.

But very tasty!  They're in the freezer right now as I won't want them until the end of next week.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Microwave popcorn

Thank you, Google Images.
Popcorn is delicious but it can be laden in fat and other nasties, it can be a bit of a scary process, requiring very hot oil on the hob, etc, and there always seems to be unpopped kernels left over.

No more!

After an exchange in a facebook group, I googled and then tried microwave popcorn and, you know what, it's not bad.  Nice as a snack anyway.

Popcorn is just under 4 calories per gram.  Pretty good.  It's what is added to popcorn that makes it such a health disaster!
You need a good microwave proof dish and something to fit snugly over the top - I used a pyrex bowl and a plate.  Oh, and some popcorn kernels.  Health food shops have them but so do supermarkets - look where the dried pulses are.

Put the kernels in the bowl - not too many as the 'pop' much bigger.  I used 20g which is 20 calories, more or less: not very much at all.
Cook on your highest setting until they start popping.  After a short time (30 secs-ish) of popping, take the bowl out (it will be VERY hot, so be careful) and remove the popped corn.  You can keep it warm, if you like.
Cover and re pop.
Repeat until just about all the kernels have popped.
You need to do it like this because the first ones to pop will 'catch' otherwise.

That's it.  I just sprinkled some salt over and munched my way through what would be a nice little snack with plenty of 'crunch' satisfaction.  I guess you could add sugar, honey, maple syrup etc, for a sweet taste but I like it savoury.

I think I shall be building this one into my food planning.

(I wonder if I could soak and cook dried corn?  Might give it a go.)