Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Holy Week/Easter’ Category

Happy Easter 2012

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

Traditional Simnel Cake for Easter

See Special Occasion Rich Fruit Cake for cake recipe and information on making a Simnel Cake.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The Basque Country in the western Pyrenees spans the border taking in part of South-west France and Northern Spain.  The coastal part of the region, on both sides of the border, is well known for its fish.  Bacalao, or Salt Cod, is a widely used ingredient in both Basque and Spanish cookery.  Salted fish is often associated with Lent, the six and a bit weeks from Ash Wednesday to Easter when, at the end of a long winter, fresh produce was at a premium.  I have recently added a post about how to salt fish at home, which is not a difficult process, however packs of ready salted fish is becoming more widely available in the UK.  I am fortunate to live in an ethnically diverse part of North-east London so usually shop for Salt fish in a local ethnic shop with mostly Caribbean produce, but the major supermarket chains are now starting to stock it too.  I usually buy salted skinless pollack, as it is a sustainable species – I am trying not to buy cod – and quite honestly I can barely tell the difference, especially when it is cooked into a stew.  This recipe, therefore, has been converted for pollack, but if you must then substitute cod – or another white round fish of your choice.

The recipe comes from a library book, The Spanish Kitchen by Pepita Aris.  As I have said previously I substituted ready Salted Pollack, soaked for twenty-four hours before use.  I am yet to try this recipe with home salted fish.  I was also a little unsure about adding the honey specified in the recipe.  Honey with fish?  It seemed  a bit strange!  However as I often add a little sugar to tomato based dishes as it cuts through the acidity I risked the honey and the flavour was not obvious.  The dish was certainly enjoyable.  I notice that there is a similar recipe from Central Spain in Keith Floyd’s book, Floyd on Spain, which includes chick peas.  I’ll have to give that a go sometime as well, perhaps using home salted fish.

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

Basque Style Salt Cod (Bacalao) in Spicy Tomato Sauce
Bacalao con Salsa de Tomate Picante
(Serves 4)

400g/15oz salt cod/salt fish, soaked in cold water for 24hours
(I used a 300g pack which was adequate with extra pepper)
30ml/2tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 green peppers (or one each red or orange and green)
500g/1¼ lb peeled & chopped ripe tomatoes
or
400g/14oz tin tomatoes
15ml/1tbsp tomato purée
15ml/1tbsp clear honey
¼tsp dried thyme
½tsp cayenne pepper
or
½tsp Piment d’Espelette (coarse ground dried Basque pepper)
Juice of ½ lemon
2 potatoes (medium sized)
45ml/3tbsp stale breadcrumbs (be generous – I’m sure I doubled this amount)
30ml/2tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
Salt & ground black pepper

1.   If using shop bought salt fish it should be soaked in cold water for 24 hours, drained and rinsed before use.  If home made lightly salted fish is used then an overnight soak followed by a rinse should be adequate.

2.   Drain the salted fish, place in a pan, generously cover with water and bring to the boil.  As soon as it boils remove the pan from the heat and set aside until cold.

3.   Heat the oil in a medium sized pan.  Gently fry the onion for 5 minutes and then add the garlic.  Add the chopped peppers and tomatoes and cook over a gentle heat to make a sauce.  Stir in the tomato purée, honey, dried thyme, espelette or cayenne pepper, black pepper and a little salt.  Taste and sea son as required.  Add alittle lemon juice to make it ‘tangier’.

4.   Peel and halve the potatoes lengthways and cut them into slices about the thickness of a coin.

5.   Drain the fish and reserve the cooking water.

6.   Turn on the grill to heat up.  Cook the potato slices for about 8 minutes, with no added salt, in the reserved water.

7.   Flake the fish and remove any skin and bones.

8.   Make up the dish in layers.  First put in a third of the sauce, cover with potato slices, followed by a layer of flaked fish and the finally the remainder of the sauce.

9.   Combine the breadcrumbs and parsley together and sprinkle over the dish.

10.  Place under the grill for 10 minutes until golden brown.

11.  This is a meal in itself but if you wish it could be served with a side salad.

Read Full Post »

Happy Easter!

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

Traditional Simnel Cake for Easter

See Special Occasion Rich Fruit Cake for cake recipe and information on making a Simnel Cake.

A Simnel cake can be made with brandy or rum, as in the basic recipe above, or alternatively pre-soak the fruit in the juice of half a fresh orange.  Simnel Cakes were originally made for their mothers by working children as a gift for Mothering Sunday, the third Sunday in Lent, which falls three weeks before Easter.  Nowadays Simnel Cakes are mostly eaten at Easter.  See Afternoon Tea for Mothering Sunday for more information.  A Simnel Cake traditionally has 11 marzipan balls around the edge – one for each Disciple or Apostle of Jesus, except for Judas Iscariot!

Read more……

Read Full Post »

This is a very special recipe, one I turn to again and again for a rich fruit cake: for Christmas, Easter or even the occasional ‘special’ birthday.  (It would also make a good wedding cake, but that is outside my experience.)  Its full title in my recipe file is Special Occasion Cake (from Mrs Maud Farrant) written in my mother’s hand.  As with all good recipes it is a ‘hand-me-down’.  I am the third generation, at least, to use it.  It came from my father’s mother, my ‘nanna’ as we called her and through her daughter, my aunt, to my mother.  Each time I make this recipe I do so with a sense of pride and connection with the past, especially as my nanna and aunt are no longer with us.  It is especially lovely to have it each Christmas and also to turn it into an Simnel Cake at Easter.  I really hope that the tradition will continue with my own daughter: that in years to come I will be able to eat a slice of a cake from the same recipe in her home!

Here is this year’s Christmas cake, made a little later than I had hoped but looking just as tasty as usual. Each year it is decorated slightly differently. This year it will be a version of the traditional topping of marzipan and icing (the photo will appear on this page in due course). Last year I finished the cake with an unusual sweet and crunchy Florentine topping, from an idea in Tesco’s 2009 free instore magazine which I will definitely be repeating (recipe and picture further down). I have also often made it into a Dundee cake, covered with concentric rings of nuts and glacé cherries before it was baked. Our last Dundee Cake was before I started this blog so there are no photos, but it is about time we ate one again. Perhaps Christmas 2011 unless I develop another plan. (As mentioned before I also use this recipe for my Simnel Cake at Easter and more recently for our Silver Wedding Celebration Cake – pictures and details below or by following the link.)

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

Although this cake doesn’t take long to mix, it is really important to have the timings in mind. For best results it needs to be started in advance, preferably the day before as the fruit needs to be soaked in alcohol and plump up. Actually, I have forgotten this several times and it is still delicious – just leave for as long as possible and go ahead. Remember too that the cooking time is around 2¼hours, give or take a bit, so if you put it in the oven late in the evening (again I admit to doing this) plan to stay up past midnight waiting for it to cook – you have been warned! Some people like to ‘feed’ a cake by piercing the bottom of the cooked cake with a skewer and pouring over a small amount of additional alcohol. There was no instruction to do this in the original recipe and I know my mother does not, however, as recommended by others, I feed my Christmas Cake just a little and like to think it is an improvement. I never feed a Simnel Cake and we enjoy it just as much. It all comes down to personal preference. (The measurements given are Imperial and I am loth to convert the original as I am afraid that adjusting the measurements may make the cake less successful.)

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

Basic Recipe: Special Occasion Rich Fruit Cake
*Mixed dried fruit can be either a combination of sultanas, raisins and currants or the ready mixed variety with mixed peel included, in which case add an extra 2ozs mixed fruit instead of adding the peel or add another 2ozs glacé cherries.

Start this recipe in advance and soak the mixed fruit in the brandy at least overnight.
2tbsp brandy (rum can be used as an alternative)
1½lb (or 1lb for a less rich and heavy cake) mixed dried fruit (*see note above)
2ozs peel (unless using mixed fruit with peel – *see note above)

8ozs butter, at room temperature
8ozs soft brown sugar
3 large or 4 small eggs
10ozs self raising flour
large pinch salt
1 level tsp mixed spice
1 level tsp cinnamon
2ozs glacé cherries (*see note above)
1oz blanched chopped almonds or flaked almonds
a little milk to mix, if required

1.  Place the mixed fruit in a bowl, pour over the brandy and cover.  Leave to soak overnight.

2.  Line a 8-9inch loose bottomed tin with non stick baking parchment.  I do this by cutting a ring for the base and a long strip that is 2 inches more that the width and height of the sides.  Fold up the spare 2 inches of liner along the long side and cut into it at about 1inch intervals up to the fold along the entire length.  Use this to line the inside of the tin, folding in the cut pieces to part line the bottom.  Place the circle of liner on top.  It should not need greasing, but you may just like to add a few dabs of oil to help it adhere to the tin.

3.  Preheat the oven to 150oC/140oC Fan/300oF/Gas 2.

4. Cream the butter with the sugar until light and very creamy.

5.  Break an egg into a jug and gently mix with a fork.  Add a little at a time to the butter and sugar mixture, beating well between each addition.  Continue in the same way until all the eggs are added.  Beat the mixture very well.

6.  Add the soaked fruit, cherries and almonds and mix in well.

7.  Sift the flour, ground spices and salt into the cake mixture and gently fold in, until the flour has disappeared.  Gently stir a little milk to the mixture if it seems a little stiff.

8.  Tip the mixture into the prepared tin, pressing down well into the bottom and smooth out so the top is flattened.

9.  Make a collar out of three or four sheets of newspaper about twice the height of the tin and tie in place around the cake with string.  This prevents burning.  (I find the Waltham Forest Guardian makes an excellent ring, but doesn’t add anything particular to the taste – so feel free to use any newspaper!)

10.  Place in the centre of the preheated oven.  Check after 2hours by gently pressing the top to see if it is still spongy and/or inserting a skewer to see if it comes out cleanly.  I usually find that it needs a further 15 minutes in my oven but the original instructions specify 2½ hours (and in one place it says 2½ to 3hours – a non fan oven instruction).

11.  When cooked remove from the oven, take off the newspaper collar, ease out of the tin and remove the lining paper.  Place onto a wire rack to cool.

12.  When cold the cake can be stored in a tin until it is ready to be finished.  Place it on the lid of the tin and cover with the upside down tin base.  (Label the bottom ‘this way up’ so no one forgets!)  If you want to ‘feed’ the cake pierce the base, not the top, with a skewer and gently drizzle about a tablespoon of extra brandy into the holes.  This can be repeated at regular occasions.  If I make my cake in November I usually do it four or five times between baking and the time it is decorated.

The cake is now ready to be decorated.  See below for some of the cakes we have eaten … plus decorating information.

Finishing touches …

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

Starry Night Cake – Christmas 2010
Traditional marzipan and white icing (fondant).  Design by hopeeternal
(more information about the cake and design)

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

Florentine Topping for Christmas Cake (December 2009)
(Amount generously covers a 23cm/9inch cake)

Florentine Topping is an alternative to the usual Christmas marzipan and white icing. Mixed red & green cherries, if available, would be a pretty alternative.  If you can get whole candied fruit to chop this is preferable to bought ready chopped peel in a tub. This recipe comes from the Tesco In Store Free Magazine, November-December 2009.

25g/1oz butter
2tbsp golden syrup
50g/2ozs flaked almonds
50g/2ozs roughly chopped walnuts
200g/7ozs halved red cherries
50g/2ozs chopped mixed peel
1tbsp plain flour

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180oC/160oC Fan oven/Gas 4

2. Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a pan.

3. Stir in the almonds and walnuts.

4. Stir in the cherries and mixed peel.

5. Stir in the flour and mix thoroughly.

6. Place the cake on a baking tray and spoon over the Florentine Topping aiming for as even a layer as possible.

7. Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes. Gently lift onto a rack to cool and decorate with ribbon to serve.

8. Can be stored in a cake tin for up to two weeks.

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

Dundee Style Christmas Cake – December 2011
Walnut halves, pecan nut halves, blanched almonds, red and green glace cherries. Design by hopeeternal
More information about this cake

Dundee Cake (simplified topping using blanched almonds & cherries)
For a generous topping use 50-60 whole blanched almonds and 12-15 halved cherries.  Start with a ring of evenly spaced nuts around the edge of the uncooked cake mixture.  Within this place a ring of halved cherries.  Then a second ring of nuts and finally a small ring of cherries and a central cherry or nut if space permits.  Try to place the nuts and cherries without smearing the cake mixture on them for a clean looking finish.  The finish can be varied by adding other nuts, differently coloured cherries or changing the design from the usual formal concentric rings.

——-

Traditional Simnel Cake for Easter
A Simnel cake can be made with brandy or rum, as in the basic recipe above, or alternatively pre-soak the fruit in the juice of half a fresh orange.  Simnel Cakes were originally made for their mothers by working children as a gift for Mothering Sunday, the third Sunday in Lent, which falls three weeks before Easter.  Nowadays Simnel Cakes are mostly eaten at Easter.  See Afternoon Tea for Mothering Sunday for more information.

A Simnel Cake traditionally has 11 marzipan balls around the edge – one for each Disciple or Apostle of Jesus, except for Judas Iscariot!  Counting is not my strong point (!)  I miscounted and managed to add 12 balls instead of the usual 11.  A pity because I was very pleased with the cake.  Here it is …

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

First make the 11 small marzipan balls of around 2cm in diameter, before dividing the remaining marzipan in half.  Cut the cake horizontally through the centre into two equal pieces.  Roll one piece of marzipan into a circle.  Lightly spread the cut surface of the cake with apricot jam and place a rolled out circle of marzipan on top, putting any trimmings to one side.  Spread over a little more jam and cover with the second half of the cake. Roll a second circle from the remaining marzipan and place on the top of the cake. Trim to size and reserve the trimmings. The top can be marked in a lattice pattern, if required, using a light touch of a knife and the 11 marzipan balls are then placed equidistantly around the edge – a very little jam can be used to keep them in place.  Flash grill the top of the cake until the marzipan starts to bubble and slightly brown – take care as it burns quickly.  Any other decorations, such as sugar or foil covered chocolate eggs, fresh or sugar flowers or other items should be added when the surface is cold.

This version is decorated with a nest using the marzipan trimmings pushed through a clean garlic press to create strands.  When cool place a small pile of sugar covered chocolate eggs in the central nest.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

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

——-

Silver Wedding Anniversary Celebration Cake

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

Read Full Post »

On Good Friday we make Hot Cross Buns to remember Jesus’ death on a cross and it therefore seems appropriate to mark Easter Sunday and beyond with the symbolic use of eggs to represent the resurrection and the new life that Jesus brings.  I bought some little pastel coloured sugar coated eggs to decorate my Simnel Cake in a ‘take a bag and scoop and do-it-yourself’ shop.  Then, on a whim, I bought a few more: I, or perhaps my daughter, could make some little chocolate cereal nests.  Most people with children are likely to have had these brought home from school and may even have made them in a family home cooking session.  However I realised that the last time I made them it was with a special kit that came with a packet of Rice Krispies so I did not really have a recipe.  Searching online was simple and there seem to be two methods.  One includes butter/margerine and golden syrup.  The quick and simple method, the one I have chosen, is just melted chocolate and cereal, with the optional  of adding extra ingredients such as coconut, raisins or cherries.  Cornflakes can be substituted for Rice Krispies as can, I understand, Shredded Wheat: I have not tasted this last, though it could look rather like the twigs in a nest.

An internet search led me to the Netmums site and a recipe called Chocolate Crispies.  There are two or three other simple recipes (including one for Banana Flapjack, which is a good way of using a glut of ripe bananas).  We included some sultanas for good measure, finishing with sugar eggs – a hen and chicks were also added as Easter decoration.  The original recipe is for a larger amount of chocolate but we scaled it down for the one bar of chocolate that I had bought and found 24 nests to be ample (I was more generous with the raisins than the original). There is also a suggestion that cornflakes or other cereal could be used if you don’t have rice crispies and that the nests could be served with chopped bananas.

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

Chocolate Rice Krispie Nests
(Makes  24)

150g/5ozs chocolate (I used dark: Green & Blacks Fairtrade 72% Chocolate for Cooks)
80g/3ozs Rice Krispies
50g raisins
Mini eggs: sugar coated, foil coated or jelly type – 1 per cake
Alternative extra ingredients: coconut, glace cherries, dried cranberries, chopped nuts – amount may be more or less than 50g depending on personal preference.)

1.  Gently melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of water on a low heat. (Alternatively use a bowl and quick bursts of heat in the microwave.)

2.  Put in the rice crispies and raisins (or alternative extra ingredient if you have chosen one) and stir until well covered with chocolate.

3.  Place individual paper cases into small tart or muffin tins and put spoonfuls of the mixture into these. 

4.  Place 1 or 2 mini eggs on top while still the chocolate is still soft (number depends on size of eggs/nests and personal choice). Leave to cool and set – can be put in the fridge for a short time.

5.  Lovely for tea-time on Easter day decorated with a small edible egg, or at any time of the year replacing the sugar egg with half a glace cherry.  At Christmas a piece of cherry and two pieces of green angelica give the seasonal look of holly.

Read Full Post »

The word biscuit literally means twice cooked, taken from the Latin bis (twice) and coquere (to cook). It is this slight cooling followed by a second burst of heat that gives crispness to a biscuit, a method used by the recipe I use for Easter Biscuits.  Sure enough the resulting biscuits are light and crisp and very ‘moreish’: a crispy sugar topped treat for Easter.  These Easter Biscuits are similar to the round ‘fruit shortcakes’ that can be found in shops, sometimes called ‘squashed fly biscuits’ (although I know that this title can also be given to the long Garibaldi biscuits).  I am not sure why they should particularly be associated with Easter.  Easter Biscuits are said to have originated in the West Country of Britain where they were given as gifts on Easter Sunday, (though they are also claimed by Shropshire and probably other places as well).  They were often larger too, measuring up to 4 inches (10cm) across.  An article in the Times, which includes an alternative recipe (untried by me) suggests that the ‘tradition’ be moved to Easter Monday.  Not all recipes include the mixed spice with some Easter Biscuits including lemon zest, such as this Netmums recipe (also untried by me). I will definitely add zest next time, even though there is already mixed peel in the recipe. 

The recipe used below comes from The Women’s Institute Book of Biscuits which was published jointly with Mornflake Oats.  For these small biscuits I used a 2 inch (5cm) cutter: a metal one is good as it cuts through the pieces of fruit.  However, I like the idea of bigger biscuits and I will definitely be making them larger next time.

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


Easter Biscuits

(Makes about 3 dozen x 2inch biscuits)

175g/6ozs plain flour
75g/30zs butter
75g/3ozs caster sugar
50g/20zs currants
15g/½oz candied peel
Large pinch of mixed spice
1 egg yolk
Scant 2 fl ozs milk
Glaze:
1 egg white (or a little milk)
Caster sugar

1.  Preheat the oven to 170oC Fan oven/180oC/350oF/Gas 4.  Grease 2 or 3 baking sheets.

2.  Cream the butter and the sugar together and beat until it is soft and fluffy.

3.  Add the egg yolk, spice, fruit and flour and mix together.

4.  Add just enough milk to make a stiff dough.  If the dough becomes sticky then add a little more flour but too much flour will make the biscuits a little hard and less rich.

5.  Roll the dough out thinly on a floured surface.  Cut rounds and place them fairly closely on the greased baking sheet:  they do not need too much room for expansion.

6.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  After 10 minutes remove the trays from the oven, brush the biscuits with egg white or a little milk and sprinkle with a little caster sugar.  Return them to the oven for the remaining time – remove when just starting to become golden.

7.  Remove from the trays and cool on a wire rack.  Store in an airtight box or tin.

Read Full Post »

Marzipan is an ancient sweetmeat.  One of its major uses is as a layer under icing on a rich fruit Christmas cake and also at Easter as the top layer of a Simnel Cake.  It is also used in Stollen, a rich and fruity yeast bread eaten at Christmas, mainly in Germanic and Scandinavian countries.  It can also be shaped and beautifully painted as miniature fruits and as the filling for chocolates, either plain or flavoured.   I like to add small marzipan stars on top of Mince Pies over the Christmas period.  I know it is easy to buy Marzipan in packets from the supermarket, but it is so easy to make – plus, of course, you know exactly what ingredients you have used so there are no strangely named additives.  If you want a yellow marzipan then carefully add a few drops of yellow food colouring until the required shade is achieved, but be careful not to over knead the mixture or it will become oily.  

I have several Marzipan recipes, but used the one from Leith’s Cookery Bible: Completely Revised & Updated Edition by Prue Leith & Caroline Waldegrave.  The original used vanilla essence but I substituted almond essence as suggested in several other recipes, which seemed more sensible.  I do not make the full quantity: half for covering a Christmas/Simnel cake or a quarter (with half an egg) to fill a Stollen, leaving just a little over to cut out for the star topped mince pies.  Providing it is well wrapped, the marzipan keeps well in the fridge for at least two weeks.

The recipe includes raw egg and may not be suitable for certain vulnerable groups of people.  I expect there are egg free versions available.  Delia Smith has a version using cooked eggs on her website, but I have not tried it.

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

Marzipan (Almond Paste)

225g/8ozs caster sugar
225g/8ozs icing sugar
450g/1lb ground almonds
2 egg yolks
2 eggs
2tsp lemon juice
6 drops vanilla or almond essence

1.  Sift the sugars together in a bowl and stir in the ground almonds

2.  In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, lemon juice and essence.

3.  Add to the sugar & almond mixture and mix together with a wooden spoon. Be careful not to overmix as it will become over oily. If it is a bit sticky then add some more almonds and/or icing sugar

4.  Wrap well and store in a cool paste.  As it contains egg it should be used within a few days.

5.  When rolling out this should be done on a dusting of icing sugar to stop the marzipan adhering to the surface or rolling pin.

Read Full Post »

I have long felt it is sad that we can buy Hot Cross Buns, with their crosses on, throughout the year. I’d be happy just to have ‘Not Cross’ Buns for most of the year, just putting the crosses on from Good Friday until the end of the Easter season at Pentecost (fifty-two days later) to mark their special seasonal significance. (This year the Dean of St Albans has been saying much the same with an article about reclaiming the Hot Cross Bun in the press.)  Hot Cross Buns are especially good when eaten still warm for breakfast or tea on Good Friday, with or without butter. However, made without the crosses, why restrict them to the Easter season as they can be enjoyed at breakfast or tea at any time of the year!

I love home made Hot Cross Buns and try to make some every year. I have tried different recipes but have never felt I have found that ‘extra special’ one – until, that is, this year. Radio Times this week has a recipe feature including Nigella Lawson’s Spicy Hot Cross Buns from her book Feast: Food that Celebrates Life. Finally a recipe to remember – I will most definitely be making these in future years. Interestingly, Nigella uses Cardamom seeds, one of the ingredients used in the buns mentioned in the St Alban’s article where they are given their ancient name ‘grains of paradise’ – appropriately, in my opinion, as I love them!

100_2509 Spicy Hot Cross Buns

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

Spicy Hot Cross Buns
(Makes 16)

For the dough:
175ml/6fl ozs milk
50g/2ozs butter
Zest of 1 orange
1 clove
2 cardamom pods
400g/14oz strong white bread flour
1tbsp castor sugar
7g (1packet) easy-blend yeast
100g/4ozs mixed dried fruit
1tsp ground cinnamon
½tsp ground nutmeg
¼tsp ground ginger
1 egg
1 egg beaten with a little milk to make an egg wash
For the crosses:
3tbsp plain flour
½tbsp caster sugar
2tbsp water
For the sugar glaze:
1tbsp caster sugar, dissolved in
1 tbsp boiling water

1.  Heat milk, butter, zest, clove and lightly crushed cardomom pods in a saucepan until the butter melts and leave to infuse.

2.  Measure the flour, sugar, yeast and dried fruit into a bowl and add the spices.

3.  When the infused milk reaches blood temperature, take out the clove and cardamom pods and beat in the egg.

4.  Pour the liquid into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix together.

5.  Knead dough well. If it is too dry then add a little more warm milk. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic – takes about 10minutes. The dried fruit will keep escaping, but just push it back into the ball. Form dough into a ball, place in a bowl, cover and leave to rise. This can be either overnight in the fridge (the slower the rise the better), at room temperature. If in a hurry I use the airing cupboard, which takes at least 1 hour. (The risen dough should be doubled in size.)

6.  Heat oven to 220oC/Fan Oven 200oF/Gas 7.

7.  Punch the dough down and knead again until elastic. Divide into 16 smooth round buns. (16 means you can just keep halving the mixture.) Place on lightly greased and floured baking sheets, leaving a space between each so it they can rise. Score each with a cross using the back of a knife. Cover with tea towels and leave to rise until doubled again with buns almost joined up on the trays.  (Once more I use the airing cupboard, but this can be done at room temperature.)

8.  Brush the risen buns with egg wash and then carefully spoon/drip flour mix into the scored cross marks. Bake at the top/middle of the oven for 14-16minutes.

9.  When the hot buns come out of the oven, brush immediately with the sugar/water glaze to make them sweet, sticky and shiny. Cool on a wire tray.

Read Full Post »

This comforting and reasonably quick to make fishy bowlful is best enjoyed on a cold evenings round the fire. I have been known to make it for a busy Christmas eve or Good Friday evening.   Since first making this recipe I have managed to find a good source of fish stock which is not easy to find in the UK.  When on holiday in France over the summer I bought a small tub of dried powder labelled Fumet des Poissons in Carrefour supermarket (own brand, blue tub) and I am definitely not disappointed with the added flavour it gives to this dish.  Own brands and more expensive branded versions are available in other French supermarkets – I shall be stocking up next time I go!

The original version of the recipe comes from the excellent Complete Low Fat Cookbook by Sue Kreitzman, though I have adapted it very slightly. The first time I tried it I had no parsley and as it needed some green I added peas, an addition we have kept as we liked it so much! I also left out the wine, as I was feeding young children who might not have liked the flavour and have continued to leave it out.  More recently I have added a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and some chopped bacon, both of which augment the flavour of the fish.  It is suggested that the pepper is put under the grill and warmed through until skin starts to pucker before cutting up as this draws out the sweetness.  If you want to remove the skin, especially if it chars, then put it in a plastic bag for about 5 minutes which will make it easier to peel away.

100_4367 Smoky Fish Chowder

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

Smoky Fish Chowder
(Serves 4-6)

1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2ozs/50g chopped bacon (smoked or unsmoked)
24fl ozs/750ml fish stock (or vegetable stock or water)
2 fl ozs/50ml white wine (optional) or 1tbsp white wine vinegar
1pt/600ml skimmed milk
3 medium all purpose potatoes (boil until almost cooked, peel & dice coarsely)
1 red pepper, chopped
12oz/350g can sweetcorn kernels
4ozs/100g frozen peas (pre-cooked for 5 minutes)
12ozs/350g firm white fish (skin & cut into 1″ (2.5cm) cubes)
12ozs/350g skinned smoked haddock/hoki (cut into 1″ (2.5cm) cubes)
6ozs/175g cooked peeled prawns
freshly ground pepper
chopped fresh parsley

1. Combine the onion, 4fl ozs/100ml of the stock/water, plus wine or wine vinegar, if using, in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Cover, bring to boil and boil for 5 minutes.

2. Uncover and simmer briskly until the onion is tender and starting to brown. Stir in the bacon and gently fry with the onion.

3. Stir in the remaining liquid and bring to a simmer.

(I like to keep about half of the liquids back and add during cooking, if needed, as when I originally cooked this recipe the end result was rather over wet. Let your own taste preference dictate what proportions of milk and stock/water you add.)

4. Add the potatoes and simmer gently for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the red pepper and corn and simmer for 5 minutes more.

5. Cool slightly, then puree half the mixture in a blender. Return to the pan, rinsing the blender with small amounts of water and adding this to the pan as well and bring back to a simmer.

6. Stir in the peas and fish cubes and simmer for 5 minutes.

7. Stir in the prawns and heat through.

8. Season with pepper and serve at once sprinkled with parsley.

9. Serve in a bowl and eat with a spoon, accompanied with a chunk of crusty granary or white bread.

(This recipe was first posted on 29 March 2008 at my original blog Meanderings along the narrow way)  Updated 16 June 2009 & 12 November 2010

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: