Posts in cooking
The Famous Gartur Salted Caramel Brownies
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Okok, they probably aren’t famous, but above any other recipe I have ever been asked for, this one has been requested the most. They are long perfected, years in development brownies that hit that exact spot of sweet and salty and rich and sticky that brownies really should be. They are what we bring to every single bake sale and retreat and workshop and and and…so finally, I will let you in on the secret…

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Makes 1 9x9in tray of brownies.


For the brownies:

300g butter

500g sugar

165g powdered cocoa

4 eggs

120g flour

2t. vanilla


For the Caramel:

300g sugar

200g double cream

1T. sea salt flakes


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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/360F

  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the sugar and cocoa. Mix well.

  3. Leave to cool until it is just warm. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

  4. Add flour and mix.

  5. Pour into a lined 9x9 pan.

  6. In a clean pan, melt the sugar for the caramel. You will need to keep an eye on it and stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn.

  7. Once melted, add the cream slowly. The mix will steam and bubble, so mix with a long handled spoon.

  8. Add a pinch of salt to the caramel and mix.

  9. Pour the caramel on top of the brownie and swirl it in with a knife, leaving it mostly unmixed.

  10. Bake for 35 minutes. The brownie should be just set. Sprinkle the rest of the sea salt over the top.

  11. Leave to cool completely….if you can.


cookingKat GoldinComment
Rosebay Willowherb Tea
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A few months ago when out with the dog, Kevin and I were chatting about our upcoming foraging workshops and he mentioned that he had read something about using Rosebay Willowherb as a tea. I'd never heard of it before, but a quick google and a deep dive into some of my older herbology books showed that he was indeed correct.  

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Rosebay Willowherb, known in North America as Fireweed, is a tall perennial, easily recognised by its purple, almost flame-like, flowers.  It favours waste ground and is a first coloniser plant, so is often seen on roadsides, plantation forest edges and disused building sites. Its American name comes from its colonization in fire-disturbed areas.

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The tea, called in some places Ivan Tea or Koporye Tea (after the area of Russia where it originated), used to be an alternative to Chinese tea.  With willowherb's nature of growing in disturbed or unused ground and its spread all over much of the Northern Hemisphere, it was a cheaper alternative to 'proper tea'. While it doesn't have caffeine, it is oxidised in the same way that black tea is - letting fermentation make its magic to create a deeper, more fruity flavour. It isn't caffinated and has become my bedtime drink. Apparently you can also eat the young shoots like asparagus, so I am looking forward to trying that next year. 

I've done a few batches of the tea now and I am finding the whole process so magical, on top of having a great tea - there is this moment on about day 2 of fermentation when all of the sudden the smell of the tea changes from grassy and green to deep and fruity.  It is such a rewarding process and you get a good amount of tea, quickly...always a bonus when foraging.

Harvesting: 

The leaves are best foraged when the plant starts to flower.  They have quite a long flowering season, so its nice not to have to rush about collecting all of it at once. You want to simply pick the leaves, leaving the flowers for pollinators.  You can do this quite quickly by grabbing the top of the stalk under the flowers and sliding your other hand down, stripping handfuls as you go.

Fermenting:

Once you have the leaves you need, simply leave them in a cloth bag or basket overnight to wilt.  This helps start the oxidation process.

After they have wilted, you will take a few at a time and roll them to help move on the fermentation.  Then pack them loosely into a glass container for 2-3 days.  Once they start to smell fruity, make a cup to check you are happy with the flavour.  Add a few leaves to hot water and steep like you would any other herbal tea.

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If you are happy with it, then you need to stop fermentation by drying the leaves.  I simply emptied my jars onto baking trays and dried them in a low oven until they were completely dry (about 20-30 minutes). For added visual effect, try drying some of the flowers along with the tea.

Store in a sealed container.  The taste improves over time, so letting it rest a few weeks will enhance the flavour. 

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Kevin's Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
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When Kevin and I lived in Windsor, Sunday mornings were for long lie-ins, thick stacks of newspaper and a special breakfast at our favourite coffee shop.  In this life, Sundays start pretty much at the same time as every other day - early - and consist of the same routine as every other morning.  Our one nod to that previous life is a special breakfast, served with a big pot of coffee and lingered over a little longer than the goats would like. 

Most Sundays, Kevin is the one to get up early, switch the oven on and pop in the sourdough cinnamon rolls he made the night before. Sourdough cinnamon rolls are quite different than their commercial counterparts  - a bit denser and they have a lovely depth of flavour lacking in their very sweet counterparts. He's become the pro in our house and has graciously shared his recipe here (possibly in hopes that I will be the one to get up this Sunday and make them). 

Ingredients:

  • 200g starter
  • 160g whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 1T sugar
  • 360g bread flour
  • 10g salt

For the Filling:

  • 200g brown sugar
  • 1T ground cinnamon

For the Icing:

  • 60g icing sugar
  • 2T orange juice

Method:

Method for Cinnamon Rolls:

1. Mix all ingredients until no lumps remain

2. Rest in a warm, covered spot for 3-4 hours, doing 3-4 stretch and folds in that time.

3. Roll out dough into a long rectangle.

4.Spread 200g of brown sugar and 1T of cinnamon all over the dough.

5. Roll up from the long edge.  Cut into pieces 5cm in length. Place in a lined pan.

6. Refrigerate over night.  

Baking:  

1. Bake at 180c for 35 minutes. 

2. Serve with icing. Our favourite icing recipe is about 60g of icing sugar with the juice of one blood orange. 

New to sourdough baking? We've launched an online version of our popular Everyday Sourdough workshop.  You can find the details here. 

Chicken Fried Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms

Chicken of the Woods is one of those treasures of a wild mushroom hunt.  Its tasty, easy to identify and there is a lot of eating on them when you do stumble across one. It gets its name from its chicken like taste and texture, and not in the usual way every protein of an unknown origin 'tastes like chicken', this mushroom really does. 

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Identifying the Chicken of the Woods:

When identifying mushrooms, always check with at least 2 sources before ingesting. If you have doubts, don't eat them.  Even mushrooms that may be considered safe to eat, can still cause poor reactions in some people, so be aware.  Also the general advice is to always ensure that your mushrooms are well-cooked before eating as this helps to neutralise any potential toxins. 

Chicken of the Woods is one of those mushrooms that once you identify it clearly the first time, its hard to mistake for anything else.  In the UK at least, there are very few mushrooms that can be confused with it and those that can, the Dryads Saddle or the Blackening Polypore, are both safe to ingest (and really don't look much like it any way). It is a bracket fungus that grows mostly on oak trees, but can be found on other hardwood and yew trees, so will be found without a stem, growing in a clump off of a tree or stump and it does not have gills.  As a young mushroom, it starts off apricot in colour and then fades to white as it ages.  Like most mushrooms it is best eaten fresh and can be frozen, but this does change the texture. 

Fresh, my go to recipe is the same for all wild mushrooms, fry in lots of butter with garlic and finish with a bit of creme and thyme.  However, you an harness that chicken-like nature and use it in recipes that call for chicken. We've made tacos, stir fry and pasta with our mushrooms and all were lovely.  

This recipe for fried chicken of the woods was inspired my my friend Jeni who loves to batter and fry all the things.  I simply brought my love of fried chicken to the mix and even the kids couldn't get enough. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large section of Chicken of the Wood Mushroom (about 1kg)

For Brine:

  • 920ml/ (4 US cups) water
  • 3T salt

For Batter:

  • 240g (2 US cups) of plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 230ml (1 US cup) of ale
  • 2 cups of crushed corn flakes (if you want to substitute bread crumbs here, do, but corn flakes really do give a superior crispiness to the batter).
  • 1t smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1t salt
  • vegetable oil for frying

Method:

  1. Clean the mushroom, ensuring you remove all tree bark from the mushroom, especially if it was found on a yew tree.
  2. Cut off any dry or flaking bits at the edges and slice into pieces roughly 1cm thick.
  3. Mix up the brine and let the pieces soak for about 5 minutes while you mix up the batter.
  4. Add all the ingredients for the batter to a bowl, except the corn flakes.  Mix into a smooth, thick batter.
  5. Crush the cornflakes and place in a shallow pan.
  6. Remove the mushrooms from the brine and pat dry.  Dunk each piece individually into the batter, then coat with bread crumbs.
  7. Heat about 1cm of oil in a frying pan. Working in small batches, lightly fry off the breaded mushrooms, roughly 2 minutes each side to seal. 
  8. Once browned, place mushrooms on a tray and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 180c/360F
  9. Serve with garlic mayo or in a wrap or taco. 

 


Upcoming Foraging Workshops at Gartur Stitch Farm

 

 

Feta & Quinoa Patties
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Fact: things in 'burger' format are 267% tastier.  Maybe its the fact that the outsides are fried? Or that they are easily slipped into bread and carbs are life?  Who knows, but quinoa mixed with cheese and then fried turns this 'health' food into something even my kids like.  

I've used my homemade feta here, which is a bit less crumbly than the store bought kind that uses calcium chloride to help firm it up. 

Ingredients:

300g Quinoa (Ive used Lidl's multigrain quinoa here, but plain works well)

200g feta cheese - crumbled or cut into chunks

2 eggs - beaten

2 Tablespoons of flour (GF is fine)

25g finely chopped herbs. I love chives in mine.

Method:

1. Cook quinoa according to pack instructions.  Usually this involves boiling it in 1 part quinoa, 3 parts water for 15-20 minutes, until the spiral germ separates from the seed. Leave to stand for 10 minutes then drain off extra liquid.

2. Once its cooled, add the rest of the ingredients.  You may need to add a bit of extra flour to get it to stick together. 

3. In a frying pan, heat 2TB of oil.  Once the oil is hot, shape the mix into patties slightly smaller than your hand and place in pan.  

4. Fry for 3-5 minutes on the first side. Don't flip too early or it will fall apart.

5. Flip and brown on the other side. 

Serve with a salad and homemade chips. 

Want to learn to make your own feta?  Its covered in our Intro to Cheesemaking class. 

Any Green Pesto
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In summer, at least twice a week, we have "Stuff on Bread" night.  It really is that simple - we rummage around the cupboards or the garden and see what is available.  Some veg get roasted or grilled, there may be a bit of leftover meat or egg mayonnaise from earlier in the week, and there is almost always cheese. If we are low on toppings, out comes the food processor and some form of pesto is added to the mix. 

I've used carrot tops in the recipe below, but really you are only limited by what is in your fridge, garden or hedgerow here.  We use this same recipe with ground elder, nettles (don't forget to blanch them first), spinach, rocket, chard, young kale leaves, beetroot greens and wild garlic.  Sometimes we leave out the cheese, if you leave a bit of water on the greens from washing or blanching them, the liquid and oil will emulsify nicely to form a creamy base.  

Carrot Top (or any Green) Pesto:

A big pile of carrot tops (from a bunch of carrots, this is usually around 200g)

2 cloves garlic

1/3 cup (50g) nuts - I like walnuts

1/2 cup (60g) parmesan

1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil

Using a food processor, chop the nuts until they start to stick together. Coarsely chop the garlic, carrot tops and cheese and add them in. Blend until finely chopped and start adding olive oil to form a paste.  Salt to taste.

Serving suggestions:

Mix into whole wheat pasta with sautéed courgette (zucchini), red onions and pecans with oregano sprinkled on top.

Put onto sourdough bread (homemade goat's cheese an added bonus!)

Kat's Everyday Sourdough
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We bake sourdough bread most days. Be it as a morning breakfast/vehicle for melted butter or a staple in the summer time "stuff on bread" dinners we have at least twice a week, sourdough is embedded in our life.

We've tried a lot of methods and recipes, but with so many of them, there was a level of technicality that simply didn't fit into our busy family life.  While technical aspects of hydration and starter peaks are important to know, we have come to the understanding that the best bread is the bread that fits easily into your every day life. This bread dough isn't very wet, which makes it ideal for a starter sourdough, as its a lot easier to handle.

I've written this recipe for people who make bread regularly - every day or every other day.  If you are baking once a week, you may not get the rise you need from your starter, so feed it about 12 hours before you are due to make bread and see if that helps.

I start my bread as I am making dinner in the evening and it sits next to the aga for the first few hours before it goes in the fridge for over night.  I then turn on the oven to bake when I go down in the morning for coffee. 

Ingredients:

  • 200g 100% hydration starter (This is a good method for starters here, or you can buy a kit here).

  • 400g tepid water

  • 650g strong bread flour

  • 20g salt

Method: 

1. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients until the flour is completely incorporated.

2. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 3-4 hours, depending on the warmth of the room.  Every so often (at least 3x), stretch and fold the dough to help with the gluten development.

3. Tip dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a tight round. To get a nice surface tension, stretch the dough from the outside and bring it into the centre all the way around. This will be considered your seam.

4. Place seam side up in a banneton or bowl lined with a lightly floured towel. You can either leave for about an hour in a warm place and then bake or place in the refrigerator over night.

Baking:

1. Place your dutch oven in the oven and heat the oven to its highest temperature.

2. When the oven has reached temp, place your baking parchment on top of your banneton, then the baking tray on top of that and flip your bread out of the banneton onto the tray.  There is no need to remove your bread from the refrigerator prior to this, in fact it is easier to work with a cold loaf.

3. Score your bread using a knife or razor blade.

4. Slide the loaf into your hot dutch oven and put the lid on.  Place it back in the oven and reduce the temperature to 220c/430F. Bake for 35 minutes with the lid on. Remove the loaf from the dutch oven and bake for another 12 minutes or until the crust is brown.

 

Variations:

– Replace 200g of the white flour with brown flour

– Add 2T of turmeric at Method stage 1. Then add about 2c of finely chopped leeks and onions on your final stretch and fold.

Want to know more about Sourdough baking? We have on online course!!

 
 

 

 

Goats and a Recipe for Soft Chevre

"I did think, let’s go about this slowly.
This is important. This should take
some really deep thought. We should take
small thoughtful steps.

But, bless us, we didn’t."

--Mary Oliver

I am pretty sure that Mary Oliver was writing about the adventure that is smallholding when she wrote that poem.  I can't tell you how many times similar thoughts have crossed my mind in the last 3 years - from buying far too many seeds to fill our not terribly big garden to ordering aproximately a dozen more meat birds than we could possibly house to getting a second crazy collie dog to keep our even more insane one company.  However, the goats have taken our insanity to new levels. 

I can't remember exactly how the goaty Rube Goldberg machine started, but before we knew it, Dasha the British Saannen nanny goat and Freya, a companion British Toggenburg/saannen cross kid, arrived here and we were in the dairy animal owners club.

Our first few weeks were, um, interesting as we tried to learn to milk and contain two lively goats in what we learned was hugely inadequate fencing. Twice a day, Kevin and I would trudge out to the barn, each milking one side as we tried to learn the skills and build up the hand strength to get the milk out in a decent time. Dasha would kick and walk away and put her foot in the milk more often than not as she grew completely impatient with us both. For weeks we had to bribe her with apples to get her to stand and it has taken months to get her milked and out in a reasonable time.  As you would expect, fencing has also proved challenging, with the goats unexpectedly arriving in my kitchen a couple of times over the summer or eating all of the holiday cottage's roses. 

All in though, the experience has been a good one.  All of our milk needs are covered by Dasha's twice daily milking, with plenty left over for 2 batches of goat's cheese a week. I make chevre most of the time, but mozzarella has been an epic addition to Friday night pizza night. There is no question that keeping dairy animals is at the same time extremely liberating - with one of our main staples completely provided for on farm and intensely tying, with one of us needed to be here to do chores each morning and night.

The chevre has become a hot commodity on the estate and as I can't sell it, the transactions are strictly barter-based, with wine, beer and even pottery used as payment.

 My Soft Chevre Recipe

Makes about 500-800g of chevre

  • 4.5l (1gal) of Goat's milk
  • 3T of prepared starter*
  • 4 drops of Rennet diluted in 1/4 cup of cold water
  • salt to taste
  • thermometer

* I use mesophillic starter from Homestead Cheese Supplies prepared according to directions and frozen in ice cube trays once prepared.  1 ice cube = 1 T.

Heat the milk to 90C/194F. Cool rapidly to 30C/86F. I use a sink full of cold water.  I pop the pan in with the lid and change out the water every so often.

When 30C has been reached, add the prepared starter.  If it is ice cubes, let it melt. then, using up and down strokes (not circular ones) stir in the starter and then the rennet that has been dissolved.

Let it set covered for 24 hours. It will be a soft yoghurt texture when done.

Line a seive with cheese cloth or muslin (I use baby muslins or the cheapest dish towels from Ikea) and pour the whole mixture through.  You may need more than one.  Tie them up and let them hang with a pot underneath for at least 24 hours.  Dont handle the curds too much, as it can change their texture and make them tougher. Discard the whey or use it in fermenting or breadmaking.

Once a soft texture has been reached, remove the cheese from the cloths and salt to taste.  Cheese keeps for about a week, if it lasts that long.

I am often asked if you can use goat's milk from the store for this.  I would bet that you can, as my milk is pasteurised (the heating process) before I make cheese.  I know that some people make this cheese from raw, but I have found that the natural bacteria interferes with the starter culture giving inconsistent and sometimes grainy results.

A List for A Wednesday: My Go-To Cook Books
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Recently, everything has been about food. Last year I made a commitment to learn to be a better baker.  I have always been a decent cook, but baking eluded me - something about it being a bit too prescriptive I think. I have tried to bake something every week and in doing so, I have really rediscovered my love of cooking.

My best Christmas presents all involved food.  I have a new smoker and have hot smoked pork and am going to be cold smoking some bacon this afternoon.  I am so in love with the process of smoking food, I have been reading up as much as possible and highly recommend the Curing and Smoking book in the River Cottage Handbook series if you are interested in the same. I have a bag of venison off cuts in the freezer awaiting processing into biltong and salami. 

Much of the last few weeks have involved meat.  Just before Christmas we bought a full pig from some friends of ours and 2 roe deer from the estate we live on.  Its been a full blown education in meat  - using as much as possible of an animal while not eating ourselves sick on venison pie and pulled pork (if that is possible, I will let you know in a few months). Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's Meat book has been invaluable. 

However, the gift in daily use around here is the book pictured above - Sourdough by Sarah Owen.  Words can not express my love for this book.  We have made the Brooklyn Sourdough recipe as our new standard bread and I have a loaf of the Butternut and Cherry bread cooling downstairs that I will be eating for lunch.  It is a glorious mix of bread and other foods like pastries, pies, crackers and sweets.  I am utterly besotted with it and will be getting it for everyone I know! 

As much as I love these ones, I am always on the lookout for new cookbooks. Do you have any you love and couldn't live without? I would love to hear more! 

For the Love of Bread.

When we first moved up to Scotland, Kevin was unemployed for 6 months. Despite searching for a job, it just didn't happen right away.  He would spend his days writing a novel (that I accidentially deleted - oops!) and making bread.

It is amazing the magic a freshly baked loaf can work - he never cleaned the house, rarely bought groceries, we were barely making it on 1 income, but who cared because when I got home from work each day, there was a warm loaf of bread with butter waiting for me. 

For 8 years we made bread almost daily - working our way through more traditional loaves, to the "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" method and then back again.  We rarely bought bread - except for the odd pregnancy induced cravings I had for shop bread, our house was our own bakery.

Then we moved here, to a house with a beast of an Aga-style range.  On our first day here, we set pizza on fire. No matter what we did, everything baked unevenly, if it baked at all. 18 months in, we finally had someone out to look at the 35 year old Rayburn to discover that the innards were rusted to bits and nothing could have cooked correctly even if we wanted it to.

In the last 6 months, we have slowly been experimenting with baking - a cake here, a pie there, but last on the list was bread. There were some mega-fails - flat hard, burnt loafs that not even the chickens would eat.  However, we seem to have fallen into a groove with it all, having perfected a sandwich loaf that is not only light and delicious, but a hit with the kids. Its honestly a strange sort of relief to be able to reliably make bread again.

As a rather introspected aside, I don't think its a coincidence that just as my crafting mojo returned, my baking one came back as well. I have this sort of manic desire to just make things all the time. I was up at 5am this morning to knit and bake and as soon as I possibly can tear myself away from the computer this morning, I will be back at the baking and making again. I forgot how good it feels to make things (other than sentences or pattern layouts or crocheting for deadlines)!

Basic Sandwich Loaf

(Makes 1 - 2lb loaf)

Ingredients:

Sponge:

320g strong bread flour

7g of instant yeast

350ml warm whole milk

Dough:

200g strong bread flour

3T sugar (or less to suit taste)

60g melted butter

3t salt

1 egg yolk

Method:

Mix the ingredients for the sponge, cover and set aside for about an hour until its frothy and has swelled.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well - either use a machine with a dough hook or knead until it is silky and smooth.  the dough should be sticky, but not too wet. If you are using a machine it will stick to the bottom of the bowl but not the sides, so adjust the mixture accordingly. 

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled (about 1.5-2h).

Punch down and reform to go into a loaf tin.  Let rise for 1-1.5h. Bake at 180C for 35-40 minutes.

This recipe is easily doubled and makes delicious light dinner rolls as well.  

Grandma Toto's Rhubarb Pie (aka the best pie in the history of the universe)

I am not going to even place any qualifiers on my audacious statement about the pie recipe I am going to share.  I have eaten a lot of pie. Waitress is one of my favourite movies.  I have even been known to say that if I had to pick a favourite food-genre, it would be pie.  There is just something about the combination of pastry and filling (sweet or savory) that just gets me every time, so if its on the menu, I will be ordering the pie. I just really like pie.

Rhubarb Pie Recipe from Slugs on the Refrigerator

This pie is from my sister's grandmother, Grandma Toto. Let me tell you about my sister.  She and her husband are hands down the best cooks I know.  When we visit, we sit at her kitchen counter and eat dish after dish of the most amazing food: spaghetti and meatballs that make you weep, mashed potatoes that add inches to your hips just by looking at them (who knows what they do to you after you've eaten your 3rd helping) and don't even get me started on the things she can do to cream cheese.

Its no surprise that she has a gift in the kitchen.  Her mom once brought me back from years of vegetarianism with one amazing pot roast. 

So, when I was promised a famous Grandma Toto's recipe after showing off the enormous rhubarb we have been given by my neighbour, I jumped at the chance.  

I have made it 4 times in week, its that good. 

Grandma Toto's Rhubarb Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 Unbaked Pie Crust (I use the 3:2:1 method as read about it The Yarn Whisperer and I have never had a pie crust fail since)
  • 2 1/2 Cups of chopped rhubarb (this was about 4 average stalks)
  • 3 Eggs beaten
  • 1 1/2 Cup of sugar
  • 3T of Flour
  • 1T Melted Butter
  • 1tsp Vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 400F/200C. 

Prepare your pie crust.  In a bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are light and the sugar is mostly dissolved. Add the flour, butter, vanilla and salt and mix.  Place rhubarb into pie crust and pour over egg mixture.  Bake at 400F/200C for 10 minutes. Then lower your oven to 350F/180C for 45 minutes.  Its done when the rhubarb is tender and the eggs have set. 

For another option, add strawberries to the mix (as suggested by my Aunt Dodie - the blog is totally becoming a family affair)!

Enjoy! 

Weekend Makes: Coffee, Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Ice Cream
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Considering the fact that Kevin and I fell in love over the hand crank of an ice cream maker (and Alicia's Attic - remember them?) at camp, its surprising that it has taken almost exactly 18 years for an ice cream maker of our own to come into our lives.  The universe obviously thought it was time to rectify this situation as it placed Alicia's recent posts on her frozen concoctions and a sale on ice cream makers on Amazon in my web browser the same day. Coincidence? I think not. 

With the machine itself taking the better part of the week to arrive, I hatched my ice cream plans. I knew Jeni's Roasted Strawberry and Buttermilk would be the kids' number one choice, but for Kevin and I it had to be coffee ice cream.  I am always the person who orders the coffee flavoured thing of the menu and coffee ice cream is my favourite.

However, I struggled to fine a recipe that ticked all my boxes. I read everything I could find on ice cream making, I studied the various methods (cornflour vs eggs; sugar vs corn syrup) and decided to get the kind of coffee ice cream I craved, I needed to strike my own path.

And OMFG, the results are out. of. this. world. Crazy, crazy good ice cream - thick and creamy, dark and rich, just like the best and most expensive ice cream you can find in the shops.  Now, as I have a severe dairy intolerance, I can only really have a couple of spoonfuls, but that is OK, because it is so rich and creamy, you don't need much more.

Ingredients:

75g ground coffee

1T ground cinnamon

500ml milk

6 egg yolks

100g light brown sugar

3T light corn syrup (I bought mine from Amazon, but according to Jeni, you can substitute golden syrup and decrease the sugar by 1T)

300 ml double cream

a pinch of salt

1t vanilla extract

 

Warm the milk in a pan and mix in the coffee and cinnamon. Leave to sit for at least 30 minutes (I left it for an hour because I got sidetracked). Strain through a muslin and squeeze the milk out into another pan.  Keep the milk warm.

Heat a saucepan with water on the stove to just below boiling. In a bowl that fits over the top, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn syrup together and place the bowl on the saucepan with the water, heating gently and mixing throughout. 

As it warms up, slowly add the coffee-infused milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly as you add it. Heat the mix until it forms a loose custard (think school lunch custard consistency). Remove from the heat.

Whisk in the cream, salt and vanilla and pour into a large plastic bag. Place the bag in an ice bath to cool. I just run mine under the tap for a few moments and then throw it in the fridge until I am ready for it.

Once its thoroughly cool, place in your ice cream maker and mix until thick and creamy. Transfer to freezer safe container and freeze for a couple of hours until solid.

Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. 

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I think salted caramel will be our next endeavour and then I think it will be time to try soya versions. 

Let the summer of ice cream begin! 




Love Is...

20140331-IMG_1906 Doing an emergency stop on a country road, whilst yelling "WILD GARLIC!!!", then waiting patiently so I could collect a bag full of my favourite Spring-time arrival. He's a keeper, that Kevin.

 

Foraging for Wild Garlic
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While it wasn't quite as hard work as Ellis was making out in the first picture, I did recruit him on my seasonal foraging duties. There is a hill near our old house where it is plentiful, but we struggled to find it in our new area.  A few patches here and there on one of our favourite walks was all, andI was worried we hadn't brought home enough Wild Garlic. But 2 large pots of pesto and a massive batch of cheese and wild garlic biscuits/scones later, I am confident we will have our fill...and that we will repel any Vampires from the entirety of Central Scotland.

I didn't use any recipes...the pesto is cashews, parmesean, olive oil and a ton of wild garlic (maybe too much, it is POTENT) and the scones are just my standard American biscuit recipe that I use for everything and can't remember where I know it from:

500g/4 cups of flour

3t of bicarb (baking soda)

125g/8T of cold butter

250g/ 1cup of grated strong cheddar cheese (the eye-wateringly strong the better)

100g/1/4 cup of wild garlic pesto

200g/ 2 cups of chopped wild garlic leaves

120ml/ 1/2 cup of milk

Mix flour and baking soda. Chop butter into small pieces and work with fingers into flour until it becomes crumbly. Mix cheese into the dry mix, leaving a bit aside to sprinkle later. Add milk and wild garlic. Work with hands until it forms a dough, adding a bit more milk or flour if needed. Roll or pat out onto a lightly floured surface and cut out circles.

Sprinkle with a bit of left over cheese and bake at 180C/ 360F for 8-10 minutes. Makes 24.

Although I am quite severely dairy intolerant, these were simply too good to pass up with tomato and butter bean soup.

 

Non-Dairy (Scottish) Egg Nog

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I am not quite sure what came over me, but on Christmas Eve, I was gripped with the burning need to make egg nog.  Not being generally picky, I would have been happy to buy some at the store, but any eggnog, let alone the non-dairy variety, is non-existant this side of the pond.  

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And so began the search, for a decent recipe that was both thick and rich, but also had the ingredients we had to hand (Scotch, not Burbon) as the stores began to close for the holidays and also cooked as raw eggs gross me out. I read a bunch of recipes, and then decided that I would just throw things together in the general principle of egg nog and see what happened.

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The answer is - I drank a lot and decided that if my life as a designer and photographer doesn't work out, I have a credible back up plan as the official Scottish Nogmaker.

Warning: this egg nog is lethal, but delicious.

Easily made with cow's milk and cream - but please top with whipped cream and tell me about how delicious it is - I miss whipped cream!!

 

Ingredients:

6 eggs - separated.  Store whites for later.

1 litre (4cups) soy milk

250ml (1 cup) soy cream

100g (1/2 cup) powdered sugar

2T plus a little for sprinking ground nutmeg

250ml (1/2cup) rum

500ml (1 cup) whisky

 

mix egg yolks, soy milk, soy cream, 2T of the nutmeg and sugar in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Heat until just before boiling, make sure to stir constantly so you don't scramble the eggs.

Add the alcohol and leave to cool, first on the counter, then in the fridge.

Just before serving, whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks and mix thoroughly into the egg nog.  This really makes it nice and creamy without the addition of much cow-based cream.

IMG_6776.jpg Aren't my birdie cups sweet? They are from here.

cookingKat Goldin Comments
Perfecting

soft snickerdoodles

Growing up, we had a neighbour who was known for her cookies.  Perfectly crunchie, yet chewy, hers were the most highly prized food currency in the neighbourhood.  A party wasn't a party unless Karen brought her cookies.

I don't think I have eaten another snickerdoodle since we moved away. How could I even compare, baking not being my greatest strength in the first place, then having the bar oh-so-high. And so I didn't bother, stuck to the basics of chocolate chip...until last week when I decided to make it my mission to recreate the cinnamon flavoured bites of sweetness. You see, I am not a huge chocolate fan, but cinnamon, well that is a whole other story.

I have now made 4 batches in 5 days, tweaking them each time. As I am sure you can imagine, my family were more than happy to be the guinea pigs.  So much so, that on the one day I didn't make them, I was roundly told off my Ms Georgia, wagging finger and all. "Mama, why you no make cookies? Bad, mama."

However, 4th batch in and I am pretty sure they are as close to perfect as they are going to get.  Softer and lighter than I remembered, they are just divine dipped in coffee. I am imagining them with cinnamon or coffee buttercream and made into whoopie pies.  But perfection is here and its fair to say I don't need to make another batch for awhile.

 

Just don't tell Georgia. 

 

Soft Snickerdoodles:

1cup of room temperature butter or margerine

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup demererra/ raw sugar

2 eggs

1t baking powder

3cups of flour

pinch of salt

3T white sugar

3T cinnamon.

 

mix butter, sugar and eggs thoroughly.  Add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix.

Place the extra cinnamon and sugar in small bowl and mix. Roll small balls of dough in the cinnamon sugar mix.

Place on cookie sheet about 2in apart. Flatten with the bottom of a glass or jar.

Bake at 350F/180C for about 8 minutes until just brown.

Dunk in coffee.  

Reach nirvana. 

 

cookingKat Goldin Comments
Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza

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Is there a sexier fruit than a fig?  My heart certainly beats a bit faster when I spot the new season in the grocery store.  I am known for stuffing bags full of the purple orbs into my basket as soon as they appear.  I love them. Would eat them every day if I could.  But my favourite, favourite way to devour their soft sweet flesh is on pizza. I can't remember where I saw the idea, but it is a seasonal staple in this household. 

 

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I always start with a no-knead pizza dough.  The recipe came originally from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a day, but over the years we have perfected it to:

3 cups of warm water

2T yeast

1/4 cup olive oil

4 1/2 cups of white flour

1 cup of corn meal

1 cup of whole wheat flour.  

 

The basic principle is that you stir everything together in that order, mix until all the flour is incorporated, then let it rise and fall (about 2 hours).  Sprinkle a bit of flour on the dough and pull of aprox 1lb of dough per small pizza.  Flatten on a cookie sheet that either has a bit of oil or corn meal on it and then drizzle the top with a bit more oil.

 

Then you are ready for the toppings.

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1 red onion

1/2 cup of rose wine

1T honey

1T balsamic vinegar

a pinch of rosemary

The sauce is a simple carmelized onion and wine reduction.  No real amounts, just an onion, cooked on low for about 20mins in a bit of oil of butter.  Add the wine (I like the sweetness of rose in this) and a tablespoon  each of basalmic vinegar and honey and the rosemary. Cook for about 5 minute until the wine has reduced some.

 

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Spread the sauce, then generous slabs of cut figs and goat's cheese.  A small pizza uses about 1.5 figs and about 75-100g of goat's cheese. I buy both the figs and the cheese from Lidls...the best place to buy anything continental where we live...

Bake at 180C/360F for about 20 minutes.

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Soup for Sol

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To say I loved my Grandfather Goldin would be an understatement.  For as long as I can remember, I doted on him and he on me. I was his favourite. In the 4th grade, I "invented" a bird feeder with him in mind that won a contest.  I chose my university so I could live close to him.  One of the main reasons the children have double-barrelled names is so that Ellis could have Grandpa's name within his.

When I knew him, he was a kind man, with a love of music, gardening, birds and sweets. He used to sing me "K-K-K-Katie" and tease me about my childhood obsession with the film Annie. He could play the piano and I can not hear Scott Joplin's The Entertainer without thinking of him.   

Grandpa loved to eat.  Unlike the stereotype of people of his generation, he was adventerous.  We would meet for lunch at a variety of resturants - Asian Fusion, Mexican, Steak Houses.  He was up for trying things and we would sit and talk for hours, enjoying each other's company over a meal in ways that I only hope my children will share one day with their grandparents.

However, his favourite restuarants were the Jewish diners peppered around Chicago.

Grandpa Sol was Jewish.  He married my Irish Catholic grandmother in the 1930s and had 5 children, all of whom were brought up Catholic.  He never spoke much about his faith and other than my last name, there were few things that showed my links to that side of the family. But some things passed on.  When I grew up in Iowa, we were some of the first people to know what bagels were.  And Halva. And Matzo's, eaten with a shmear of margarine and a dash of salt.

But when Grandpa and I met up, it was Matzo Ball soup we would eat. On paper, a big ball of mushy bread hardly sounds appetising, but they became some of my favourite foods.  He would tell me stories and I would do my best to make a dent in the dumpling the size of my head.

I hadn't thought about Mazto Ball Soup in a long time. I'd never told Ellis the story of his name or every really mentioned my beloved Grandpa Goldin.  But when I stumbled across a bag of Matzo meal in the local grocery store, I knew I had to make them.

And I did.  I listened to The Entertainer and cooked.  And we ate it. And talked about the man I loved so much. Ellis asked the questions 4 year olds ask, "Did Grandpa Sol like Lego?" (Probably) "Did he eat chocolate?" (Most definitely) "Could he come over?" (Unfortunately not)

And I thought, that is what food is, at its best. Its not only good and nourishing, but its tradition and memories and connection.

And, like everyone who ever has lost a loved one, I wondered what he would think about my life now. Would he be proud? Would he hate my nose ring?   What would he think of my house? My work? Would he laugh at Ellis' jokes?  Be taken in by the demon with pigtails? Or think Theo is the sweetest baby ever like everyone else does?

And importantly, what would he think of my Matzo Ball Soup?

 

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Basic Mazto Ball Recipe (Makes 15ish Matzo Balls)

6 eggs

1.5 cups Mazto meal

dash of salt and pepper

1/3 cup of chicken broth

1/3 cup of melted butter or margerine

 

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and let sit in the refrigerator for about 15minutes.  It will be very wet initially, but firm up with resting.  Wet your hands and form into smallish balls, roughly 1.5 inches across.  Drop into broth or soup. I use them like dumplings in a chicken vegetable soup, but they are very often served with just broth.

Christmas Traditions and Minestrone? Soup

Even though Kevin and I have been married for 10 years, in many ways I still feel like we are figuring out what 'our' Christmas traditions are.  Maybe its that the kids are still so young, so we've not had much time to renegotiate what family means to our little family unit, or maybe its that we have spent every other year in America since we were married...I don't know.

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We go back and forth on traditions...one family opens presents on Christmas Eve, the other on Christmas day.  The big man in the red suit is "Santa" to some of us and "Father Christmas" to others.  Some people eat the vile blob of eewy-gooeyness that is Christmas Pudding, while others go for delicious perfection in a pie plate that is pumpkin pie.

One thing we can agree on, this soup is eaten every year on Christmas Eve.  It is absolutely not Christmas without it. 

Now, in my family we call this Minestrone. In looking online *gasp* I don't think it actually IS minestrone.  I think this is just what we call it, in the same way my mother pronounces Fajitas as "fruh-heet-ahs"and Georgia calls dogs "kitty"...not really right, but everyone understands what is meant.

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And so, I give you Minestrone? Soup.  Amounts are totally made up, because I just make it to whatever size I need to, based on the number of people I'm cooking for. The quantities below feed 6-8.  If you are going to make it smaller, then reduce the meat and veg accordingly, but I'd still be heavy on the olives, I'd just let Georgia eat more of them before they went in the soup.  

500g or 2lbs of stewing/casserole beef

1 onion

2 smallish courgettes

1-2 carrots

1 can of chopped tomatoes

1 can of pitted green olives (no pimentos)

1 can of black olives

1 can of kidney beans

a lot of beef stock (at least 1 litre)

garlic

a handful of short pasta

 

Chop the onions and cook until translucent. Chop and add the carrots. Brown the beef and then add the stock, tomatoes and some garlic, let this cook for a couple of hours on low on the stove until the meat is very very soft.

Drain the kidney beans and add them to the soup.  For the olives, you can just dump them in, brine and all or you can drain them.  I like the soup with the briney saltiness, but then the stock I use doesn't have added salt in it.

Chop up the courgettes and add them and the pasta about 15 minutes before you serve. 

Serve with bread and a sprinkling of cheese...and Pumpkin Pie (but NEVER Christmas pudding)