Well it's September and I haven't written a blog post for ages - how time flies. Eventually, in June, Mr S.Foodie and I moved up north to Gislingham and since then have got stuck in to some decorating and gardening at our new home. I haven't been out much but discovered there's a monthly charity cake stall in the village, with the BEST cakes and the owners of the village shop sell superb homemade Sri Lankan food to takeaway. Now someone please buy the pub.
When your oldest daughter wants a pair of Hunter wellies and a proper home-made afternoon tea for her birthday ...
- mini Easter coffee cakes
- salted caramel and banoffee eclairs
- herb cheese and quail egg tartlets
- roasted hazelnut Genoise with dark chocolate ganache
- mini lemon posset with brandy snaps
It will soon be time to think about jam making with summer fruit. My tips are from my 'Food for Keeps' course and will help you make perfect jam every time. Try making this delicious Fresh Apricot Jam.
- Never make more than 10lb (10 standard jars) at any time. The less time spent in cooking the jam, the better the final colour and flavour.
- Choose firmly ripe, fresh fruit, picked dry. Wet fruit will affect the set and flavour of the jam.
- Prepare the fruit removing any stalks and bruised flesh, only wash if necessary.
- Use a large, heavy based saucepan. The pan should never be more than half full.
- Add water only of the recipe says so.
- Bring fruit to the boil, then simmer gently to break down any skin and to extract the pectin.
- Pectin is a substance in fruit that reacts with acid when heated, creating the setting agent. Fruits vary in their pectin and acid content.
- Jam sugar has added pectin and is ideal for fruits that are low in pectin helping jam to set.
- Do not cover the pan as water evaporation is essential.
- Underboiling causes jam to be too runny and overboiling makes it sticky.
- Test the set by dropping a spoonful of jam onto a refrigerated saucer and seeing if the top crinkles when you run your finger or a spoon across it.
- Warming the sugar in a low oven (110C) will shorten the cooking time. Preserving sugar consists of large crystals of sugar which dissolve evenly producing less froth when boiling.
- Remove any scum with a slotted spoon once the jam is ready to pot. A nut sized piece of butter at the end of the cooking will help reduce the scum.
- Cool the jam for 5 to 10 mins before potting, then stir again to help evenly distribute the fruit and stop it from rising to the top of the jars.
- Always warm jars in a low oven to sterilise and prevent cracking from the hot jam.
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- choose firm, ripe fruit
- preserving sugar has bigger crystals which dissolve more evenly
- test for set by seeing if a skin forms when dropping some jam onto a chilled saucer
- always warm the jars in the oven
His name is Ben Hutton. His restaurant is called Ben's. He has just opened in Bury St Edmunds and here is the link to his story. The food is all locally sourced, with pork reared by Ben himself to create his own recipe Ben's Bangers. The bangers come served on pancetta mash with shredded cabbage, buttered carrots and onion gravy. They were very good indeed. You can't beat bangers and mash on a cold winters night. We also tried the Trio of Jacob lamb prime cuts, which were shoulder, a lamb cutlet and liver. I would argue that liver is not a prime cut and is in fact offal, but I like offal and was happy to order it. It was served with boulangere potatoes, rosemary jus, root veg and savoy cabbage. The lamb was sourced from the local Culford flock and was tender, with plenty of it. I would have liked more gravy. Yes, I call it gravy. Puddings we tried included a selection of the local Alder Carr ice creams ...heaven.. and a cheesecake of the day which was stem ginger and honey. Light, not cloying and very well flavoured. A homemade tuile biscuit perched on the top, some lovely citrussy honey sauce drizzled over and unnecessary squeezy chocolate sauce garnish on the plate. It is good to see a new independent restaurant open in a town which is over run with chains.
We really need to post the recipe up for these because it's soooooo good, easy, cheap and very impressive. Here are some we are making for PettaFiesta. We put a shake of smoked paprika on the bottom and some grated cheese, then changed our minds and on the next bake put it on the top. Great with soup instead of bread - we will be serving them with the chili - and maybe for breakfast too.
We really enjoyed having Amy, our work experience student from Thurston Community College, this week. She showed us her favourite recipe: Birdy's Brownies!
- 185g unsalted butter
- 185g cooking chocolate
- 85g plain flour
- 40g cocoa powder
- 100g best dark chocolate
- 3 large eggs
- 275g golden caster sugar
- Cut 185g unsalted butter into smallish cubes and tip into a medium bowl. Break 185g cooking chocolate into small pieces and drop into the bowl.
Melt over a pan of boiling water.
- Turn the oven on to 160C/conventional or 180C/gas, so it has time to warm up. Using a shallow 20cm square tin, cut out a square of non-stick baking parchment to line the base.
- Now tip 85g plain flour and 40g cocoa powder into a sieve held over a medium bowl until all lumps have gone.
- With a sharp knife, chop 100g of dark chocolate into chunks (rough squares) on a chopping board.
- Break 3 large eggs into a large bowl and tip in 275g golden caster sugar. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy, like a milk shake
- Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse and gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Plunge the spatula in at one side, take it underneath and bring it up the opposite side and in again at the middle. The idea is to marry them without knocking out the air, so be as gentle and slow as you like – you don’t want to undo all the work you did in step 4.
- Hold the sieve over the bowl of eggy chocolate mixture and resift the cocoa and flour mixture into it. Gently fold in the powder, in the same figure of eight action as before. Finally, stir in the chocolate chunks until they’re dotted all of the way through.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, scraping every bit out of the bowl with the spatula. Gently ease the mixture into the corners of the tin and paddle the spatula from side to side across the top to level it. Put in the oven and set your timer for 25 minutes.
- Leave in the tin until cool. Once cool, cut into small squares or triangles.
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- melt choc and butter
- stir until glossy
- sieve flour and cocoa
- place eggs and sugar into bowl
- whisk until fluffy
- chop the chocolate
- mix melted choc and eggy mixture
- add flour, cocoa and chopped choc
- pour into tin
Thank you Mrs Bennett for sharing your Mango Chutney recipe with us. Keeley Bennett makes pickles and chutneys from her home in Polstead, Suffolk using recipes handed down through four generations of the family. You will find Mrs.Bennett's Pickles and Chutneys at Lavenham Farmer's Market or look out for her products in farm shops and local deli's. Keeley says that she finds most people like a mango chutney with their poppadoms even if they don't like a chutney with their cheese!
900g ripe mangoes - peeled, stoned and chopped
300ml of cider vinegar
225g cooking apples - peeled, cored and chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic (or two small ones) - crushed
200g demerara sugar
5cm root ginger - peeled and grated
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1. Prepare the mango and place in a bowl with the salt. Set aside while
you prepare the rest of the vegetables.
2. Place the vinegar in the pan and heat gently (do not boil). Add the
sugar slowly until all of it has dissolved.
3. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the pan and bring to the
boil, stirring frequently so that the ingredients do not catch on the
bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 1 hour,
stirring occasionally and until the chutney is thick.
4. Place into sterilised jars*. Leave for approximately 3 weeks to
allow the ingredients to mature.* You can easily sterilise jars by placing clean jars (and lids) into a hot oven for 10 minutes. Obviously taking care when handling them.
This is one small branch of the £3.99 pear tree bought from Lidl four years ago.The tree has been espaliered and grown against a sunny wall by my father. I wish I had taken a picture of the whole tree. The crop was impressive!
We don't want you all to know about this pub because it's busy enough as it is but we just had a tasty and great value home made lunch here, two courses for £5.70. The bill for four was under thirty pounds - including four drinks from a selection of guest and house ales. We had plaice and chips, chicken veronique (a bit like chicken supreme with grapes, but we didn't find any grapes in ours...) peach mousse with Archers, and bread pudding. There was a dish of fresh veg each; a choice of mashed, chipped or sauted potatoes, and custard or cream on the puddings. When the puddings ran out they put on new ones - hot chocolate pudding or whisky and raspberry trifle. This is how to fill up a pub or restaurant - very friendly staff welcoming lots of older local people who were brought up on this kind of home-made food and who know how good it is.