Archive for March 31st, 2010

March ’Meanderings’ …

Pictured (top to bottom)
‘Oxford’ (& ‘Cambridge’) Style Seville Marmalades
Fragrant Marmalade Cake
Easter Biscuits
Bran Brack – Irish Tea Bread

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

The first of March dawned bright and sunny and spring is most definitely in the air with a row of daffodils now making a lovely yellow splash in the garden.  The scents of Spring are starting to be on the air.  Floral fragranced food has appeared this month, with orange flower water added to both cake mixture and icing and also rosewater infusing desserts.  Lavender is also commonly used as a culinary flavouring, with Lavender sugar being easy to make by simply putting a few stems in a jar of sugar and leaving it to absorb the scent.  Lavender is also sometimes used in Herbes de Provence, a fragrant herb mixture from the south of France.  All of these scents can also be used in ice creams and as the summer goes on I shall be getting out the ice cream maker again in order to try them.  I have also been researching another bottled fragrance I have seen in shops: Kewra water (from the Pandanus flower), but have yet to buy a some.  I’d like to have a recipe or two to use first: if you have a one to share, please do get in touch via the comments box below. 

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

So what have I been up to in the kitchen this month?  I started with a marmalade making session, having found some Seville oranges on the market.  These have such a short season and can be found for just a few short weeks from late January to late February. I made what I have called ‘Oxford’ (& ‘Cambridge’) Style Seville Marmalades.  I had been planning to post some cake recipes, so started with some citrus ones: Fragrant Marmalade Cake and Lemon Drizzle Bread, followed by a Fragrant Chocolate Orange Marble Cake using the versatile basic recipe for The Adaptable Sponge.  I then moved on to some of our favourite family fruit cakes: Bran Brack – Irish Tea Bread and a much used family recipe called ‘Knock Up’ Fruit Cake, which can be easily adapted with a variety of ingredients: I separately posted a Apricot, Date & Brazil Nut Cake version of this cake where I doubled the quantity to make two cakes, one of which was for Mothering Sunday teatime.  Finally there is Gingerbread Cake, which I first learned to make at school but has stood the test of time and Nigel Slater’s unusual but delicious Beetroot Seed Cake.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Easter this year falls at the very start of April so at the end of March and in Holy week I shall make my usual pre-Easter food preparations.  The Simnel Cake is looking lovely – I use the family Special Occasion Cake recipe handed down from my Nanna: my father’s mother.  There will be Spicy Hot Cross Buns, of course, using the same Nigella Lawson recipe as last year, with Cardamom giving a lovely fragrance.  I shall also be making Easter Biscuits and am hoping my daughter will help me make some Chocolate Rice Krispie Nests using the extra sugar coated eggs I have bought.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

March is a busy month for celebrating.  We have birthdays, a wedding anniversary and usually Mothering Sunday as well: all these dates usually falling within a few days of each other.  I love feeding friends and family to celebrate special occasions and was delighted to give mum a special birthday meal.   We ate Duck Stewed in a Vietnamese Style Spiced Orange Sauce, which was flavoured with Star Anise, a recipe from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey that I had seen him make on TV in Saturday Kitchen.  I had previously made a chicken version and knew that it was delicious as well as slightly unusual.  (Mum likes trying new things.)  This was served with some Thai Jasmine Rice and some simply stir fried vegetables. Dessert was Cherry & Rosewater Pavlova Meringue Roulade, from a recipe by Rachel Allen.  I will definitely be making these again, I made some simple stir fried veggies, but I need to experiment to find a good Thai vegetable recipe.  

Recently, I have started to post only two rather than three recipes each week, due to time commitments.  However, to keep to the spirit of three posts a week, I have started adding Meanderings Revisited, a brief midweek post linking to a favourite recipe from my archive.  

Finally, on 1 April I will have been Meandering through my Cookbook for one year, my 1st cookbook ‘Blogiversary’.  I am amazed at how many posts there have been and the variety of material I have covered.   Here’s to my second year: I have lots of lovely recipes waiting to be shared, so watch this space! 

March Recipes …

Basic Recipe: ‘Knock Up’ Fruit Cake
Basic Recipe: The Adaptable Sponge

Apricot, Date & Brazil Nut Cake
Beetroot Seed Cake
Bran Brack – Irish Tea Bread
Fragrant Chocolate Orange Marble Cake
Fragrant Marmalade Cake
Gingerbread Cake
Sylvia’s Lemon Drizzle Bread

Easter Biscuits

‘Oxford’ (& ‘Cambridge’) Style Seville Marmalades

Meanderings Revisited (links to original post):
Creamy Pasta with Bacon & Butternut Squash
Simple Cheese & Tomato Topped Baked Fish
Spicy Hot Cross Buns
Spicy Chicken with Chickpea Couscous 

Read Meanderings ‘a la carte’ from previous months 

‘For what we are about to receive…’ April 2010 and beyond

Food Focus – North African style food: Tagine meals, accompaniments & desserts using North African Spices (Harissa, Ras el-Hanout) & Rosewater
Recipe Book(s)
…from my shelf
Tagine: Spicy Stews from Morocco by Ghillie Basan
…from the Library
– Food & Cooking of Africa & the Middle East by Josephine Bacon &  Jenni Fleetwood
Non Fiction Food book (still reading) Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey 

There will continue to be a taste of Easter in the recipes posted at the start of April.  Mostly, however during April, I will be posting some of the North African style recipes I have tried in the past few weeks, especially recipes to go with or using the Tagine I received for my birthday in February.  I have been learning about the spice mixture Ras el-Hanout, which I have mixed myself and have also used Rosewater as a flavouring in several dishes.  The Rosewater proved to be a revelation – fragrant and delicious, I am definitely hooked! 

Thinking further ahead, as the evenings get lighter I hope that the food will get lighter too (and possibly my waistline too!)  A chance, perhaps, to get back to simpler foods with more salads.  

Wishing you a very Happy Easter and…
…Happy Eating!

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