Archive for August, 2011

August ’Meanderings’ …

We came back from holiday at the start of August and within a few days the television screens were filled with images of riots across the UK.  Tottenham, the initial flashpoint is just down the road and some of the disturbances started to spread even closer to home.  Out of these troubles came a realisation that the police, many of whom had been drafted in from other parts of the UK and the emergency services had no central canteen or place to rest and following discussions between Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow, members of the Parish of Walthamstow and members of the local community this need was addressed in an amazing way.  For more information read on….

#AWESOMESTOW Walthamstow – I just had to share this …
#AWESOMESTOW Walthamstow – a community I am proud to be part of!

Recipes this month

It is fair to say that we did not have the best August weather this year, we certainly seemed to see very little sun, but nonetheless I shared a selection of recipes for the summer months. In the middle of August we celebrated our Silver (25th) wedding anniversary so I made and decorated a cake to share with the family and friends who celebrated with us using the ‘old faithful’ family Special Occasion Rich Fruit Cake recipe that I usually use for our Christmas and Easter Simnel Cakes.

Basic Recipe: Traditional Style Lemonade
Speedy Tomato Ketchup                                 Sticky Tomato Pork
Carrot & Chickpea Salad                                  Roasted Mixed Tomatoes
Special Occasion Cake – Silver Wedding Anniversary

All images ©’Meanderings through my Cookbook’

Read Meanderings ‘a la carte’ from previous months


‘For what we are about to receive…’ September 2011

Coming in September, I will be trying to keep the experience of our French holiday alive by posting some French inspired recipes: Prawns with Provençal Style Tomato SalsaFrench Style Country Terrine or Pâté (Terrine de Campagne), Tarte aux Poires Bourdaloue (Pear Frangipane Tart/Pear Pie Bourdaloue) and Brioche.  We also went to Spain, of course, but I posted a series of Spanish style recipes back in May 2011, however I planning another Spanish themed month, hopefully in 2012.
Click here for all Spanish Style Recipes on this site.
Click here for all French Style Recipes on this site.

Happy Cooking & Eating!

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This recipe is a regular at my table, especially in the Summer.  I think it deserves a place on this site even though it seems almost too easy to be worth posting, but the simplest recipes are often the best.  I don’t know how many types of tomato you are able to find locally.  Most weeks just the round red type are available on our market, with unusual varieties a rarety.  In the Summer there are often the small sweet ones, useful for skewering, plus vine tomatoes and sometimes the oval Italian plum type.  One week last Autumn, therefore, I was surprised and pleased to see a number of varieties I had not come across before.  I knew, though, that if I bought several types of tomatoes I would also need to have a plan for them.  No problem: our favourite warm tomato dish, flavoured with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and basil – perfect!  It would be extra pretty, multi-hued rather than the usual plain red.  I decided on some medium sized pale yellow tomatoes and some enormous crinkly orange/red ones, plus the ordinary red type I had already bought at an earlier stall.  Later on I saw dark tomatoes too, a combination of maroon and olive green: my heart said yes … but my head said that I had bought enough already!  A pity as the splash of extra colour would have made the dish particularly attractive.

Although I am sure that there are many similar versions of this Mediterranean style dish in recipe books this recipe is my own.  I have not specified amounts – use as many tomatoes as you would like to serve, but be generous as this is moreish. The other ingredients should be according to taste.  Since I made (and photographed) this recipe I have discovered the existence of white balsamic vinegar, though have not yet bought a bottle.   It would be useful as the tomatoes would not have the usual dark staining associated with ordinary balsamic vinegar.  I usually serve this as a warm side dish as part of a main meal or as a warm or cold salad.  It also makes a good light lunch spooned onto a slice of crusty toast or a delicious starter, either cold or a warm, served on its own, or on crusty bread drizzled with additional olive oil, or topped with a slice of flash grilled melted goats cheese.

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

Roasted Mixed Tomatoes

Tomatoes – one variety or mixed varieties and colours if available
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar, dark or white
Fresh basil leaves, torn – plus a few to garnish
Sugar (a small sprinkle for added sweetness)
Sea salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
Slices of French baguette loaf – optional
Slices of goat’s cheese roll – optional

1.  Cut the tomatoes into ¼inch/½cm slices and layer in an ovenproof dish.

2.  Sprinkle generously with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add sugar, torn basil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3.  Put the dish uncovered into a preheated oven at around 170oC/325oF/Gas 3 for about 15 minutes.  (The temperature and cooking time can be a little higher or lower as this recipe is often cooked at the same time and heat as another dish for the meal.)
Cook uncovered on medium in the microwave so the tomatoes heat through relatively gently.

4.  Whichever method of cooking is used the tomatoes need to be warmed through, retaining their shape, rather than dried up (although they are still delicious if they have shrivelled a little!)

5.  Serve drizzled with a little extra olive oil and some more torn green basil, as the original leaves will have darkened and have lost their attractive colour.

6.  If adding goats cheese then, before finishing with extra olive oil and basil, lay slices of a goat’s cheese log on the top and gently flash grill to melt and colour. Alternatively toast a slice of French baguette loaf on one side, then turn over and lay a slice or two of goats cheese on the other side.  Flash cook cheesy side under the grill.   Serve laid on a bed of warm or cold cooked tomatoes.

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With just a few days to go before our holiday the fresh contents of the fridge were run down to almost zero … but we still had to eat.  Half a dozen tomatoes and some sad looking carrots were all I had left, after which we would be on to frozen and tinned vegetables for the last day or so.  Then I remembered this recipe on a card I had picked up in the supermarket a few weeks before.  It was just the right dish to serve with Marinaded Pork, oven tomato roasted tomatoes and some crusty French bread (flatbread or pittas would have been another option).

The recipe card for Indian Chicken with Carrot & Chickpea Salad came from Tesco supermarkets.  The chicken is pre-marinaded and then simply grilled or fried – something to make on another occasion. The salad was prepared as instructed by the recipe except I halved the quantity of carrot to serve three/four whilst still using a whole can of chick peas.  I would have liked to add more mint but there was not much in my garden – well, I was just about to go away and I do use quite a lot – however the 2-3 sprigs I used was adequate.  I am not sure that this would be enough to serve six unless it was with another vegetable or salad side dish in addition to the rice or bread recommended.  Our verdict on the recipe, however, was a resounding ‘more please’ so I shall be making this again.  At some point I will certainly be trying it with a tikka style chicken recipe as suggested by the original card date.

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

Carrot & Chickpea Salad
(Serves 4-6)

1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
3 medium carrots, coarsely grated
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed & drained
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
½ lemon, juiced
2-3 sprigs mint, chopped
1.  Put the carrots, chickpeas, honey and olive oil together in a bowl.
2.  Heat the coriander seeds in a dry frying pan and toast until they start to release their aroma.
3.  Add the toasted coriander seeds to the bowl.
4. Stir in the lemon juice to taste – less than the specified quantity may be enough.  Add the mint and season to taste.
5.  Serve with grilled or cold meat.  Original recipe was served with spiced chicken. flatbread, mango chutney and Indian beer.

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Why reinvent the wheel when it has been done for me… (plus I have been itching to use the ‘repost’ button that the WordPress people have recently introduced!)

This video tells of recent events at St Mary’s Respite Centre in Walthamstow (see my previous post #AWESOMESTOW) have this week made the front page of our local paper, the Waltham Forest Guardian. Sadly it is all over now, with a BBQ on the final evening which we missed as it was our 25th wedding anniversary.

It will be interesting to see if anything further grows from the goodwill and community spirit generated by local people.  Well done anyone and everyone who cooked or bought or helped in any way!

Community events continue in Waltham Forest with the E17 Art Trail from 2-11 Sept 2011 and various venues in the area open their doors for London Open House weekend (17 & 18 September).  St Mary’s church in Walthamstow village is involved in both of these events.  During the E17 Art Trail (on 3 & 4 and 10 & 11 September) there will be 4 art installations to view, including a community art project focussing on the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible as well as a chance to look round the ancient building.  The church is also open for visitors to come and look round on Open House weekend with additionally, weather permitting, guided tours of the tour and bells.  The view from the roof is wonderful – look across to the Olympic site and see how much it has grown in the past year!

No cooking in this post – apologies to my regular readers!  You can read normalgirl’s post about St Mary’s Respite Centre below… thank you Sonia!

making life just that little bit sweeter I mentioned in a previous post about the fantastic work that was happening at the St Mary’s Respite Centre and Pop-Up Canteen in Walthamstow for weary and hungry policemen :) I went along Weds, Thurs, Fri and Sunday.  I meant to go in on Monday & Tuesday this week (which was the … Read More

via Just a normal girl in London

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We celebrated a very special anniversary recently – 25 years of marriage – and as I have my paternal grandmother’s wonderful recipe for Special Occasion Rich Fruit Cake it seemed only right to make the cake myself.  As usual the recipe was moist and delicious and it was lovely to feel that my Nanna, who died many years ago when I was a teenager was, though her recipe, able to ‘share’ in our special occasion.

The cake was made and decorated in the week following our anniversary as it was made to share with the close friends and family who came to a special meal and party at home.  It seemed odd, however, to add this post on any day apart from the actual anniversary.  Here’s to many more and the next 25 at the very least!

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

The recipe for the Special Occasion Rich Fruit Cake which I use at Christmas and Easter, is versatile and can be made with or without alcohol.  Finish with or without traditional marzipan and icing as appropriate to the occasion for which it is to celebrate.

In this case, when deciding on decoration, I puzzled for a while as I am a total novice with a piping bag (and usually fairly short on time!)  In the end I decided to keep it simple, using more of the edible glitter and silver balls bought for the Starry Night Cake I made last Christmas.  I googled ‘Number 25’, chose one of the many images available, enlarged it to size and printed it, after which I carefully turned it into a stencil.  It was fairly easy, after slightly wetting the inside of the numbers, to thickly sprinkle on the glitter and push small balls into the outline of the numbers at regular intervals.  After carefully removing the stencil, the excess glitter was brushed away with a pastry brush.  The cake was finished with a ruched band of transparent wire edged ribbon with silver printing.  The finishing touch was a silver bow which I have had from ages – probably rescued from a gift (I often squirrel bits and pieces away in the hope they will come in useful one day!)  On reflection, perhaps a little more colour would have been good – a touch of pastel colouring to offset the greyness of the silver – however the jewel colours on the numbers glittered very prettily in the sunlight.  I was not really disappointed and most importantly the cake tasted just as good as I knew, from experience, it would – thanks again Nanna!

A note about cake glitter…
The edible glitter I used was bought from a local cake making suppliers (but is widely available).  Craft glitter, which is often made from crushed glass, should never be substituted.  For an unusual (non cake) idea of what to do with edible glitter look no further than here!  I wonder what other culinary uses this dust fine glitter can be put to (bearing in mind that it’s far too expensive for normal craftwork).

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I did intend to post this on 16th, but have ended up back posting.  It has been a busy week…

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, or so the saying goes…  This presumably means you should make the very best of life’s ‘sour’ situations: but definitely no metaphorical lemons here today! This should really have been a day for writing about ‘bubbly’ (rather than lemonade) as the vicar and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage, but the fizzy stuff is being saved for the celebrations with friends and family in a week or so.  As for lemons, our market has been full of them recently and I absolutely love home made lemonade, with just enough sugar to take away the excessive sourness … and topped up with sparkling rather than still water we can still have fizz – life is sweet!

Lemonade is easy to make and definitely a good recipe for the novice cook: it was one of the first I was taught at Domestic Science in school (DS – definitely before the days of Food Technology).  With the advent of the microwave oven the method has become simpler and I have given both methods below.  Herb, spice or other fruit flavours can be incorporated into the the basic lemon (or orange, or lime, or mixed citrus fruit) syrup.  For a long hot summer, whatever that might be (!), or as a time saver, prepare a larger quantity and keep a ready supply of undiluted blocks of sugared zesty lemon in freeze.  Dissolve, as required, in the correct quantity of water.  Simply strain once defrosted before serving.   It will cool the water as it melts – simple!

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

Traditional Style Lemonade

4-6 tbsp granulated sugar (according to personal preference)
(fructose or another sweetener can be substituted)
2 large/3 small lemons – zested & freshly squeezed
1 litre/1¾pints water – still or sparkling.

1.  Using a little detergent wash the lemons to remove waxy coating and rinse well

2.  Put the lemons in a microwave for about 20 seconds on full power.  This burst of heat releases a little extra juice.  I understand a similar effect can be had by apply light pressure with the hand and rolling the lemon backwards and forwards on the work surface, although I have not tried it.

3. Zest the lemons into a microwaveproof bowl, avoiding the white pith which will make the drink bitter. (Use a saucepan for the stovetop method).  Add the squeezed lemon juice and the sugar.

4.  Heat in the microwave, stirring from time to time … alternatively, heat on the stove top, stirring.  Remove from the microwave or heat once the sugar has dissolved. Taste and add more sugar if needed.  This takes around two minutes.

5.  Leave to cool and to allow the zest to fully infuse.

6.  Strain and dilute with still or sparkling water.  Serve over ice decorated with slices of fresh lemon.

7.   If this recipe is doubled – or more –  the portions should be frozen preferably unstrained and definitely undiluted.

Alternatives: (suggested quantities to substitute)
Traditional Style Orangeade – 2 small oranges
Traditional Style Limeade – 3-4 limes
Traditional Style Lemon & Limeade – 1 lemon & 2 limes
Traditional Style Mixed Citrus-ade – 1 orange, 1 lemon, 1 lime
Traditional Style Grapefruit-ade – 1-2 grapefruit (preferably sweet pink variety) – may need extra sugar and water if using two grapefruit

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Here in #Awesomestow Walthamstow we have no rioting but lots of hungry police around keeping the peace.  The @StMarysRespite centre has been up and running at St Marys Welcome Centre in Walthamstow Village for days providing drinks, hot meals and oodles of cake. … and it is fun to be part of, such good fun!

'Meanderings (not necessarily always!) though my Cookbook' http://www.hopeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Read postordinandy on how the centre started
Read what another helper ‘normalinlondon’ has written
See pictures by Martin and Kate including some more of the comment cards from our ‘clients’.

There is wonderful community spirit – a really good mix of local people and not just church members. The current plan is for the centre to run until Tuesday this week (16th)…

There is cooking of a sort to write about too, after all this is technically a cooking blog…   We are getting lots of food donations from the community which is fantastic though an interesting selection.  Yesterday I concocted a veggie pasta bake with cooked pasta (of course!) mixed with two tins of Heinz soup (one vegetable and one lentil), 2 tins tomatoes, 3 small tins of peas, a tin of baked beans and topped it with grated cheese – quick and simple and I understood it actually wasn’t too bad (I was a bit worried about putting in the soups).

Today a friend gave me a large bag of windfall apples and we have more blackberries in the garden than I know what to do with! so on the menu tonight: Blackberry & Apple Sponge – tomorrow: Blackberry & Apple Crumble…

Now, what to do with 4 packets of supernoodles (all different flavours) and a small tin of French (Leclerc Eco brand) pate………?  Suggestions gratefully received…  Think of it as the Masterchef invention test!

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This has to be one of the best ketchup based recipes I have come across.  I know it seems excessive to repost two recipes from the same source consecutively, but this recipe and the one for home made Tomato Ketchup posted last week just have to go together – I do hope that Celia, from whom they both originate doesn’t mind.  (I do believe in giving credit where it is due!)  Actually the recipe is Celia’s but the method is my usual one and very similar to that used by Nigella Lawson.

The source is the same as for the ketchup: the inspirational Fig Jam & Lime Cordial.  Celia writes in her original post, Roasted Pork Ribs:

“I wanted a sweet, sticky sauce to cook these in and ended up concocting my own marinade…”:

(and very good it is too – did I say that before?!).  By all means use ribs but I have adapted the recipe for a more meatier cut as we don’t usually eat ribs.  Mostly I use the leanest rind free belly pork strips I can find (Sainsburys in the UK have relatively inexpensive Pork Streaky Rashers) but spare rib chops or pork steaks would be suitable too … as would chicken.  (I have collected together a list of tried and untried marinade recipes in a previous post, particularly ones for use with pork, chicken and beef – though they might be able to be used with other meats, or even fish.)  I you have a favourite one I would love to hear from you.  I have translated tCelia’s original Australian ingredient quantities into their UK equivalents, otherwise I used the recipe exactly as in the original, halving the quantity of marinade for 3-4 belly strips – the original was for 1kg (about 2lbs) ribs.  It is worth freezing a bag of ready marinaded meat.   I have been known to make two or three times the quantity (each portion family meal sized).  Once defrosted this can be tipped into a dish and cooked for a quick meal.  Sticky Tomato Pork would be good served with the pork cut into squares before marinading, then cooked and served as buffet or tapas bites.  It would also be good served as a starter dish at a Chinese meal when, of course, ribs would be particularly appropriate.

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

Sticky Tomato Pork
(6-8 pieces)

4ozs/110g tomato ketchup (see recipe for home made Tomato Ketchup)
2ozs/55g runny honey
1 tbsp light soy
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1.  Place a plastic bag generous enough to contain the meat and the marinade ingredients (plus a little extra room for movement) over a bowl.

2.  Put in the meat and then add the remaining ingredients.

3.  Seal the bag and gently move the meat and the marinade round together by squeezing with your fingers.

4.  Put in the fridge and leave to marinade for at least one hour but preferably all day or overnight.

5.  Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6. Tip the marinaded meat into a roasting dish and cover with foil.  Put into the oven for about 45-50 minutes, turning the pieces of meat over to baste.  Remove the cover for the last 10 minutes to allow the meat to brown and any liquids to reduce.

6.  Serve with rice or flatbreads and salad.  They are also delicious served with crispy jacket potato wedges, as recommended in the original recipe.

Link to collected Marinade Recipes that sound worth trying
All Marinade recipes on this site…

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I certainly don’t claim to be the worlds biggest fan of tomato ketchup, but I live with people who do like it – and I admit that it has its uses.  One small bottle usually lasts quite a long time at the back of our fridge.  However I like a challenge so when I came across a recipe for home made Tomato Ketchup I thought I had better give it a try, particularly as I could see exactly what the ingredients were.  The finished result was a bit of a revelation.  If you are going to keep ketchup in the fridge then this is definitely the type to have.  Not that I will be splurging it over all my food from now on, but I will sometimes be using it in cooking (a lovely pork marinade recipe will follow soon) – and it has made my family very happy!

Celia at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial first brought this tomato ketchup recipe to my attention.  It comes from Pam Corbin who often features in the Channel 4 River Cottage television series and her book Preserves: River Cottage Handbook No 2.  Celia has two versions of Roasted Tomato Ketchup on her site.  In the first one you pre-roast and sieve the tomatoes with other ingredients to make home made passata which is then made into ketchup.  This is the quick version, which uses shop bought passata.  Using commercial passata has its disadvantages as you miss out on the flavours of the onion and garlic which are roasted with the tomatoes, however these can be added if you wish.  (Chop and fry a small chopped onion with a crushed clove of garlic in a little olive oil, without browning, before simmering with the passata and mixing with the remaining ingredients.  The pieces of of onion and garlic need to be strained from the ketchup before bottling: for a more pronounced flavour liquidise the onion and garlic into the passata before straining.)  In its form without the added onion and garlic this is a fairly speedy recipe, taking just 45 minutes from start of cooking to filled bottles.  The yield was two 300ml bottles with a little over.  The only disadvantage is that the shelf life is fairly short.  The finished ketchup must be kept in fridge and used within 4 months.  I have discovered that the remainder of a bottle close to its use by date freezes well for later use in marinade type recipes.

(This needs a better photograph – something to rectify when I make my next batch of ketchup.)

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

Speedy Tomato Ketchup

1ltr passata (or home made roasted tomato passata)
100ml white wine vinegar
50ml lemon juice (about one lemon)
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 heaped teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground ginger
a few grinds of black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
100g brown sugar

1.  Put all the ingredients, apart from the sugar, in a heavy based pot.  Bring to a gentle simmer.

2.  Add the sugar and stir well until dissolved.

3.  Continue simmering for 20-30 minutes.  If the sauce is removed from the heat too early it can be rather thin so it needs to reduce until it has the usual familiar thick ketchup consistency.  It will continue to thicken a little as it cools as well.

4.  Wash the bottles well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the with boiling water and also putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each bottle and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on to seal.

5.  Taste the ketchup and adjust the seasoning if needed.

6.  Using a sterilised funnel, pour the ketchup into the prepared bottle, screw on the tops.  Allow to cool and label.

7.  The ketchup must be stored in the fridge.  The original recipe states that it will keep for up to four months.  Any ketchup close to its use by date can be frozen.

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