February ’Meanderings’ …
Pictured (top to bottom)
Mulled Stewed Fruit
The television tells us that this winter has been one of the coldest for some years and certainly it has been chilly, wet and snowy even in London which often manages to miss the worst of the weather. Some parts of Britain and further afield have seen much worse than we have, of course, but the cold weather does chill to the bone so there is nothing better than good warming winter food.
Following on from the soups and meat dishes posted in January, some of my February posts have been warming winter desserts. One post, Mulled Stewed Fruit, includes several alternatives: Spiced Plums, Pears with Orange & Ginger and Apricots & Pears with Ginger & Almond, all simple ideas for weekday desserts. Most of the dessert ideas are fairly traditional, including some basic information about Sweet Crumble Mixtures with a selection of toppings, plus a special Candlemas Crumble using the last of the mincemeat from Christmas. I have realised that the remaining dessert posts all use eggs. Nottingham Apple Pudding uses a batter mixture giving a crisp finish not unlike a sweet Yorkshire Pudding. There is a twist on the traditional British dessert, Bread & Butter pudding, re-invented as Paddington Pudding, plus a second variation, Toffee Apple Croissant (Bread & Butter) Pudding. The final egg based pudding is Clafoutis or Flognarde: a traditional and simple fruit filled French dessert.
I enjoy cooking multi-dish Indian style meals for friends and wanted to share some of these recipes as well this month. Most of these are accompaniments: Masoor or Red Lentil Dhal, home made Lime Pickle (so simple I will never buy a jar again!), Onion Rice Pilaf, Onion Bhajis (a family favourite when eating out which can so easily be made at home) and Paratha Roti, (the recipe for which comes from Trinidad where the food has a strong Indian influence). The only main course included is my favourite dish for entertaining Makkhani Murghi (Tandoori Chicken in a Butter Sauce): which tastes great but is quick to cook as it can mostly be made in advance. I have more Indian style recipes to post in coming months.
We have had a busy time in the church kitchen this month, with a new venture feeding Sunday lunch to about 60 church members, thus giving a people a good opportunity to get to know one another a bit better. I was just the kitchen helper as it was the brainchild of two good friends. There was slow roasted beef and Yorkshire Puddings with roast potatoes and a good selection of vegetable dishes (including Spiced Braised Red Cabbage Casserole and baked squash). This was followed by a selection of crumbles made by various church members – and what a variety there were: I made a mulled peach, pear & apple with an oaty crumble topping (see Basic Recipe: Sweet Crumble Mixtures for topping recipes). There was also apple, plum, apple & sultana and, very popular because it was unusual, chocolate & banana. I have since posted my own version of this, which I have called Tropical Banana & Chocolate Crumble. It was such a success, with so many disappointed people who missed out, that we are doing it all again in a fortnight. It would be interesting to hear from anyone else who has this sort of event on their church calendar, how they cope and what they serve to their guests.
I finally got to unpack and use my new (birthday present) Tagine and I can see myself using it quite a bit, especially for entertaining, even though it does take up a lot of oven space. I was sent a great chicken recipe by a friend: North African Spiced Baked Chicken with Pickled Lemon. I also tried a new one from the Tagine book I was given to go with the pot: Moroccan Style Beef Stew with Oranges & Beetroot, which I would definitely serve to guests (providing they liked beetroot). I had another cookery book as a birthday present as well: Green & Black’s Chocolate Recipes: Unwrapped – From the Cacao Pod to Muffins, Mousses and Moles written and compiled by Caroline Jeremy. Lots of lovely recipes and similar to another book I own though with a wider range of recipes, Divine: Heavenly Chocolate Recipes with Heart by Linda Collister, previously reviewed on this site. Just a shame that neither are very good for the waistline!
I was invited to a special birthday meal by my parents, where mum served one of her specialities and one of our favourites: Chicken Satay (I must get her recipe). I am hoping to return the favour in March for her birthday and am trying to decide what to cook. We ate a delicious Eton Mess at a local pub recently (I eventually made my own version) and that was one idea I had, but I think I will be making Cherry & Rosewater Pavlova Meringue Roulade, a Rachel Allen recipe we saw her make on television some time ago.
This month I have been using recipes from Curry: easy recipes for all your favourites by Sunil Vijayakar, which came from our local library. This is a useful little smallish format book with a wide range of simple to follow recipes, mostly with easily to obtain ingredients (at least, I am able to find them!) I tried out the Onion Bhaji recipe and was very pleased with the results. Other recipes I cooked were: Chicken & Spinach Curry (delicious but a strange colour, so not attractive to photograph, which may be why there is no picture in the book), Fish Mollee (tasty but also less attractive than pictured) and Tomato & Egg Curry, which I will definitely be adding to my vegetarian repertoire.
I cannot let this February review pass without mention of Fairtrade Fortnight, which runs from 22 February until 7 March 2010. The theme for this year is The Big Swap, encouraging us to change just one item in their shopping basket for a fairly traded alternative. There is so much choice now in fairly traded items and so many lines available in our shops there is really no excuse not to buy and make a difference to the lives of others. It is no longer possible to say, as it was some years ago, that the tea and coffee are virtually undrinkable, so if you still think that why not give them another go! Once you have made the swap, why switch back again?! The more Fairly Traded items we buy the more the shops will stock – and of course the more the growers and producers will benefit. If you enjoy poetry (and fairly traded chocolate!) you might like to follow this link and read the winning poems in the annual Divine chocolate competition. I particularly like this one: A Divine Farmer’s Tale by Joanne Carroll, the winner of the 17-adult category.
Show me a seed and I’ll show you a shoot,
Allow me the time to tend to the root,
Permit me some water and watch my shoot grow,
Give me a fair deal and I’ll continue to sow.
I’ll nurture my crops with pride and care,
Farmers like me, all owning a share,
Of the success and profit our labours bring,
At the Divine Chocolate Company we all are kings.
Hard work in the fields throughout the heat of the day,
Until the cocoa is harvested and taken away,
I am happy though, as there is a fair price paid,
And the beans will bring pleasure when chocolate is made.
A fairtrade farmer, I am the Company Divine,
When you next savour a chocolate bar, it may be one of mine!
February Recipes …
Basic Recipe: Clafoutis or Flognarde
Basic Recipe: Sweet Crumble Mixtures
Mulled Stewed Fruit: Plums – Pears with Orange & Ginger – Apricots & Pears with Ginger & Almond
Nottingham Apple Pudding
Paddington Pudding (Marmalade Bread & Butter Pudding)
Toffee Apple Croissant (Bread & Butter) Pudding
Masoor Dhal – Red Lentil Dhal
Onion Rice Pilaf
Tandoori Chicken & Makkhani Murghi (Tandoori Chicken in a Butter Sauce)
Read Meanderings ‘a la carte’ from previous months
‘For what we are about to receive…’ March 2010 and beyond
In March I will be thinking ahead to recipes for Easter at the end of the month and I am looking for ideas. First though, my March posts will start with marmalade, although sadly the Seville Oranges will have all but finished (you might be lucky I suppose): during February I made both ‘Oxford’ (& ‘Cambridge’) Style Seville Marmalades. I will then be be posting a selection of family favourite cake recipes, initially citrus based: Fragrant Marmalade Cake, Sylvia’s Lemon Drizzle Bread and a Fragrant Chocolate Orange Marble Cake that uses my mum’s Basic Recipe: The Adaptable Sponge, which is so useful to know and always has good results.
However, returning to my Easter recipe plans. As usual, I shall definitely be making a Simnel Cake around Mothering Sunday, but to be eaten on Easter Sunday, plus Spicy Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday, (Nigella Lawson’s delicately Cardamom flavoured recipe from last year’s Radio Times and her book Feast). I am also thinking about making an Easter Plait (or similar), Easter Biscuits and want to get my daughter into the kitchen to make some Chocolate Rice Krispie Nests or Cornflake nests with a lovely little colourful egg in each. I am also wondering about making Pashka, which I understand is a rich and creamy Russian dessert eaten at Easter, so will be trying to find a suitable recipe. I have been part of a discussion on the Nigella Lawson Forum on Easter recipes and traditions: all ideas gratefully received especially for foods to make that are not traditionally British. Please do get in touch via the comments box below …
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Nice book, shame about the waistline!
‘Divine: Heavenly Chocolate Recipes with heart‘ by Linda Collister – www.absolutepress.co.uk
I had a birthday recently and my brother and family bought me a copy of this book, along with some Divine Fairtrade chocolate bars. A sort of starter pack to get me cooking, I assume.
The author has long been a supporter of fair trade and has collected and created the recipes in the book using Divine chocolate, which uses quality cocoa beans grown by the farmer members of Kuapa Kokoo cooperative in Ghana, West Africa, who get an internationally agreed fair price for their product. The story of this cooperative, who also co-own the company and share its profits, is told in an illustrated introductory section. Also in this section is a guide to the unusual Adinkra symbols which feature on the cover of both the book and Divine chocolate wrappers.
Once past some basic ‘how to’ pages the recipes start, organised into nine gloriously mouth watering chapters. Some are reasonably simple: ‘Luxurious Flapjacks’, ‘Divine Brownies’, ‘Chocolate Stuffed French Toast’ or ‘White Chocolate Strawberry Cream Cake’. Others are a little more complicated: ‘Black Forest Roulade’, ‘Creamy Cappuccino Cheesecake’, ‘Bourbon Street Beignets’ or the ‘Deliciously Different Christmas Cake’. And of course, there are those with intriguing names: ‘La Torta di Cioccolata’, ‘Orange and Chocolate Jackson Pollock Cake’, ‘Zebra Mousse’ or ‘Red Hot Chilli-Pepper Chocolate Cake’. Towards the end there are even a few savoury chocolate recipes, including ‘Mole’ (the famous Mexican dish of chicken with bitter chocolate sauce). There is something here for all types of chocoholic, whether ‘quick fix’ or more adventurous!
All royalties from the sale of the book and sales of Divine chocolate benefit the farmers of Kuapa Kokoo and their company, guaranteeing a fairer deal for thousands of cocoa farmers. Divine is available in bars of Plain, Milk or White chocolate.
‘Sticky upside down chocolate pear gingerbread’, anyone?!
This review was written for and first published in the Parish of Walthamstow Magazine.
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