Mar 01 2007

Fruit Leathers

Peel about 2kg of apples, pears or quince etc.
Save peel and pips and tie in muslin cloth. Put everything in a heavy pan with 300ml water and cook till soft.

When soft remove the bag of peel etc, weigh the cooked fruit, place in a rinsed pan with an equal amount of sugar.

Boil again stirring all the time till stiff and almost sticking to the pan. It will bubble and spit so cover your hand with a cloth.

Pour a very thin layer onto a baking tray, which you have lined with greaseproof paper, and leave to dry. The airing cupboard is a good place for this!

Turn regularly. After several weeks a crystal crust will appear on the surface and it is said to keep for up to two years!

But you can cut into squares, sprinkle with sugar and eat it all after about 12 hours, it’s so delicious. Or, if you’re more restrained, store it in a plastic box covered in granulated sugar. That way you have wonderful flavoured sugar as well.

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Quinces

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Mar 01 2007

Hazelnut Meringue Cake

For real comfort food I sometimes make this wonderful old fashioned pud.

So simple and delicious; just add toasted, chopped hazelnuts to a basic meringue mixture; four egg whites, ¼ tsp cream of tartar, 225 gms caster sugar, 1 tsp vinegar.

Bake two meringue cakes in lined sandwich tins in a low oven. Cool in the tin, turn out, peel off the lining paper, sandwich together with clotted cream or whipped double cream and lemon curd or apricots poached in sugar syrup. Sprinkle with icing sugar and lemon zest and serve.
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Mar 01 2007

Fig Conserve

My fig tree has suddenly gone into overdrive producing more figs than even I can consume.

I found a delicious Fig Conserve hidden away in Jane Grigson’s beloved Fruit Book.

Simply cover the halved figs in half their weight of sugar and leave over night. By morning the sugar has drawn the juice from the figs. Bring everything gently to the boil and immediately scoop out the figs into sterilised jars, boil down the syrup. Pour it, thick and sticky, over the fruit and cover in the normal way. Store in the ‘fridge.

I have a feeling a dollop of this figgy bliss on a warm croissant with a large cup of strong black coffee will cheer cold winter breakfasts!
Our Figs & Goats Cheese
Our Figs & Goats Cheese

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Mar 01 2007

Christmas cake

Here’s That Wonderful Old Christmas Cake recipe!

The following quantity makes a big cake, sufficient for a 9”/ 23cm diameter tin. I usually halve everything and use a 7 ½”/19cm tin.

First oil the tin and line sides and base with greaseproof or baking paper. Lightly oil the paper.

Weigh out 275gms of plain flour into a large bowl; add a pinch of salt, ½ teaspoon of mixed spice and ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg.

Weigh out 175gms mixed peel, 175gms chopped glace cherries, 450gms sultanas, 450gms currants and 350gms raisins. Mix the fruit together in a large bowl and coat with a little of the flour.

://s3Soften 275gms butter with 275gms soft brown sugar till light and fluffy; use a food processor if you have one. Add the zest of an orange and a lemon, and 1 tablespoon of black treacle. Beat in 6 eggs one at a time using a little of the flour to prevent curdling. Pour this mixture over the fruit; add the juice of the orange and lemon and 4tablespoons of sherry or brandy. If you prefer not to use alcohol substitute more juice or milk. Gently fold in the remaining flour.

Pour into the prepared tin, level and make a slight hollow in the centre. Tie brown paper around the outside of the tin to prevent the outside of the cake from browning too quickly. Cover the top with two layers of greaseproof paper.
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Place in a preheated oven 170c/325f/mark3 for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 140c/275f/mark2 and continue to cook 4-5 hrs; long slow cooking.

The recipe, copied faithfully onto my old brown envelope so long ago, says “when the cake is cooked it will stop singing”! However carefully I listen I prefer to test with a skewer as well! When you are satisfied the cake is indeed cooked remove it from the tin, take off the paper and cool on a wire rack. It will keep for weeks at this stage in an air tight tin.

Finish it with home made Almond Paste and Royal icing.
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Mar 01 2007

Elderflower Cordial

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This year the lemony scent of elderflowers filled the farmyard as never before. Even after I had harvested so many flower heads the bushes looked untouched. I was given this traditional old recipe by a friend who was given it, in turn, by her grandmother years and years ago. My kitchen was filled with bowls covered with clothes for days and days and already I wish I had made more.

Simply soak 60 flower heads, 8 lemons, 8lbs granulated sugar and 6ozs citric acid in 5 pints of water for five days. So simple. Strain through muslin into steralised bottles and store in the fridge or pasturise it if you have the where-with-all to do this. Or it can be frozen in plastic containers.

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Nov 21 2004

Quinces and Tomatillos

Quince Ratafia

Quince1

Quince Ratafia will be wonderful by Christmas. It will add a glow as we drink it with the Christmas Pud and the Mince Pies. It will cheer up vanilla ice cream and add a sparkle to the winter fruit salad. Added to the pork gravy or stirred into a pheasant and apple casserole, it will enrich and bring a sweet wintry depth to the sauce.

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Oct 08 2004

Pasties, Quiche and Victoria Sponge

Cornishpasty

Pasties

The pasty question is a vexing one! Should they be crimped along the top or flat like a fat bolster. Is the beef minced or chopped – must it be beef? Does carrot go into the filling or just turnip and onion? Mrs Beeton, 1926, adds baking powder to her pastry and gravy to the filling! “ Farmhouse Fare” 5/- 1956 slices the beef and makes pastry with butter. Even Jane Grigson finishes the pasty with a frill on the top. She does makes the pastry with lard though. A minefield! My Cornish mother-in-law’s son is quite adamant: you cannot get a proper pasty in Devon, not even Widecombe!
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May 18 2004

Birthday Cake

cakemix
The strawberries in the garden are in flower but no fruit yet so I’m afraid I cheated and bought lots and lots to go with the Polenta Almond and Lemon Cake I made for a friend’s birthday last week. The crunchiness of the cake goes so well with the delicious luxuriousness of strawberries and cream.
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May 01 2004

Rhubarb

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Rhubarb
This vegetable, served as fruit pudding, turning up in a variety of terrible guises for years and years in guest houses and school dinners across the country, has led me on a quite remarkable route. As I tried to trace a little of our culinary connection to it, rhubarb has taken me back through time unbelievably to where I began this entry, that is Iraq. When the capital of the Arab world moved from Damascus to Baghdad in A.D.763, the Round City, Abode of Peace, situated in the central point of the Middle East between the Euphrates and the Tigress, became the centre of trade with the East. Traders headed East from Baghdad for all manor of goods; honey, quince, saffron, salt, pomegranates, quail. Earliest records of Rhubarb describe how it was brought back from China together with cinnamon. Rheum officialis was extremely important in ancient medicine.
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Apr 06 2004

Simnel Cake

simnelcake
Simnel Cake with 11 Marzipan Apostles (no Judas) and Primroses.
Simnel Cake was originally baked for Mothering Sunday but has now become associated with Easter.
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