Crêpes Suzette

Crêpes Suzette © Sue Todd 2015.

Crêpes Suzette © Sue Todd 2015.

While we have pancakes often (some of us more than others in this house), we generally have them with fresh fruit, but thinking about the blog and with Pancake day looming fast we decided to push the boat out, put a lot more effort in and have Crêpes Suzette for a change.  It was a real treat, especially mid afternoon on a ‘work’ day!

There is a lot more work, and a whole heap of extra dishes, but luckily I got to shoot photographs and eat pancakes while Gary, bless him, prepped the kitchen, completed the cooking, made coffee and then cleared the dishes.  I can really recommend Crêpes Suzette as a real cheer up item for a yucky, gloomy late winter’s day, it add’s a real glow in more ways than one!

We do tend to go for pancakes with real substance to them in preference to more delicate crêpe like entities, so you may get more pancakes from your mix than we do from ours.

Pancake day falls mid citrus season, so if you’re feeling the need to get your citrus fix, then crêpes suzette fits right in this month and it does make a lovely change once in a while, so if not for pancake day, then maybe for another special occasion or treat? Continue reading

Grain-free, Gluten-free Pancakes

Gluten-free, grain-free pancakes © Sue Todd 2015.

Gluten-free, grain-free pancakes © Sue Todd 2015.

While you can make pancakes with gluten-free flour that’s not a great deal of help if you’re trying to avoid grains altogether.  This recipe uses coconut and almond flours to replace the grain and is wonderful for sweet pancakes, served with fresh fruit and maple syrup.

I thought I’d posted this months ago, doh!  It wasn’t until I went to link another article to this I realised the error of my ways! Continue reading

Pancakes – or Crêpes

 

Cooking pancakes. © Sue Todd 2015.

Cooking pancakes. © Sue Todd 2015.

When it comes to pancakes I don’t think too much of a good thing is possible.  I love them.  They make the most wonderful breakfast as a special treat when there’s a bit more time to spare, they work with savoury fillings and of course there’s always dessert.  It’s one of the few sweet things I’m always ready for.

Of course most people assume that pancakes means wheat flour.  It doesn’t have too.  There are gluten-free flours that you can use instead but there are also a growing number of alternative recipes too and we have a couple of them here now, such as banana pancakes and  versions made with coconut and almond flours, so if this recipe isn’t for you, then look at one of the others.

Weighing Flour for Pancakes. © Sue Todd 2015

Weighing Flour for Pancakes. © Sue Todd 2015

Continue reading

Rum and Pomegranate Jelly with ice-cream.

Pomegranate and Rum Jelly with Ice-cream - makes a great Valentines day dessert. © Sue Todd 2015

Pomegranate and Rum Jelly with Ice-cream – makes a great Valentines day dessert. © Sue Todd 2015

Okay so I’m running late for Valentines day.  I don’t ‘love’ the commercialism of this I have to say, but that’s the same with all events of the year including Christmas.  However Rum and Pomegranate Jelly has it all going on, whether you make it for Valentine’s Day or just for a special romantic treat,  It’s rather lovely and it looks like you’ve spent hours in the kitchen even if you haven’t – cause you did it yesterday!

But true to form this isn’t hard – I don’t do hard, complicated or intricate.  But I like real.  I like easy and I like good.  This is a recipe I came across in 2011 in Delicious magazine.  They’d made it in a loaf tin which I thought lacked imagination (sorry Delicious).  It wasn’t until I stumbled on some heart-shaped moulds that I finally thought – “I’m making this”.

I made it for some very good friends coming for dinner (our born at the same time babies are now 28 and 23 respectively, so we’ve been friends a very long time now) and it went down very well.  It’s more complex than I’d normally do but also easy because it’s done in advance so there’s no flustering about it.  And it is also very pretty.

Scatter some dried rose-petals on the table, add some candles and a bottle of bubbles and you have a very romantic dessert.

The recipe claims to serve 8, this time around I made 4 little heart-shaped servings and two much larger jelly moulds with this amount.  I’m thinking that’s more than 8!!  If you’re after a simple dessert and not much on the leftovers front, I’d half the quantities.

Ingredients: for the Rum Jelly

  • 4 leaves of gelatine,
  • 240 ml water,
  • 75 g vanilla sugar (or caster sugar),
  • 75 ml white rum,
  • 2 tbsp stem ginger syrup (from a jar),
  • 45 ml of sparkling water,
  • Seeds from half a pomegranate, plus extra to serve

Ingredients: for the Pomegranate Jelly

  • 11 leaves of gelatine,
  • 750 ml pomegranate juice,
  • 4 tbsp lime juice,
  • 150 g vanilla sugar (or caster sugar)

Method for: Rum Jelly

Rum Jelly © Sue Todd 2015

Rum Jelly © Sue Todd 2015

First of all get a bowl of cold water and soak your gelatine leaves for 5 minutes.

This gives you just enough time for you to heat through 240 ml of water and the sugar in a pan, stirring it from time to time until the sugar melts.  Take the pan from the heat once the sugar has melted.

Lift the gelatine from the water, squeezing it gently to remove the extra water.  Add the gelatine to the sugar and water mixture in your pan and stir it all up, until the gelatine has dissolved.  Set to one side in a jug to cool.

Once it has cooled, add the white rum, ginger syrup and sparkling water stirring to mix up thoroughly.

Now pour it into your moulds to set.  If you are doing this for a romantic evening or Valentines day you may have more than you need.  If so put some in pretty moulds for your romantic meal (I used heart shapes) and put the rest in a bowl or mould for another day.  Sprinkle your pomegranate seeds over the jelly and chill until the jelly sets.  This will take a couple of hours.

Method for: Pomegranate Jelly

Pomegranate & Rum Jelly  © Sue Todd 2015

Pomegranate & Rum Jelly © Sue Todd 2015

Once your Rum Jelly has set, its time for the next stage, making your Pomegranate Jelly.

Soak your gelatine leaves in cold water for five minutes.

While you are doing this, heat the pomegranate juice in a pan with the sugar until it dissolves.

Squeeze the water out of your gelatine leaves before adding them to the pomegranate juice, stirring until the gelatine leaves dissolve.

Pour the mixture into a jug, set aside to cool and stir in your lime juice.

Next pour this over the set rum jelly and then chill for at least 3 to 4 hours or overnight until its set properly.

To serve your Pomegranate and white rum ice-cream:

Pomegranate and Rum Jelly. © Sue Todd 2015

Pomegranate and Rum Jelly. © Sue Todd 2015

Remove your jelly from its mould(s) by dipping the mould into hot water briefly and then turning it out to a plate.  The jelly may not come out just as you’d like, so beware.  Scatter with pomegranate seeds if you wish, along with shavings of chocolate and serve with homemade vanilla ice-cream, although it tastes great and work well just as it is.

 

Somerset Apple Cake

Somerset Apple Cake © Sue Todd 2015

Somerset Apple Cake © Sue Todd 2015

This Somerset Apple Cake is my “go to” comfort cake.  It’s not hard to make, and is soft, scrumptious and mouth-wateringly good whether you have it straight from the oven with cream or have it cold later.  I’ve been known to eat this for breakfast with a hot cup of coffee, it makes a lovely decadent start to the day.  However if you’re after a ‘pretty, knock-em dead sort of looking cake, this isn’t the way to go, this won’t provide your heart’s desire.  This Apple Cake is a rustic, wholesome fill you up and make you feel good cake.

This recipe is adapted from an old recipe in my very old, battered and much used copy of Farmhouse Kitchen.  I’d forgotten about the TV show that went with this series of books, until I went to look the book up on Amazon.  It featured on daytime TV from Yorkshire Television along with other favourites like Watch With Mother.  Whatever happened to good day time TV?  Now we have Jeremy Kyle??  Perhaps I’m getting old?  I know what I’d prefer to see and it’s not Jeremy!

Somerset Apple Cake and Cream, © Sue Todd 2015.

Somerset Apple Cake and Cream, © Sue Todd 2015.

However I digress.  Back to Apple Cake.  The original recipe uses candied peel, white flour and insists on Bramleys.  Bramleys do work really well in this recipe it I have to admit, but I’ve also used whatever apples I have to hand and it’s always come out okay, though sometimes it does need a bit longer in the oven, and even then it can sink a little in the middle. Though in this case it adds to the rustic charm and the gooey centre is just lovely.   My version uses wholemeal flour, vanilla sugar, and some extra vanilla (you can’t get too much of a good thing after all), while omitting the dried peel.  The original also used a sprinkling of granulated sugar on the top.  I don’t have any of that in my kitchen, so its my vanilla sugar that I use here, plain unrefined castor sugar will do just as well though if you have no vanilla sugar.

I know I already explained this, but It’s not a pretty, decorative cake, it’s a wholly functional, rib sticking autumn/winter goodness on a plate kind of cake. Actually I think this one works anytime and it’s totally scrummy comfort food at any time of day or night, hot or cold.

Ingredients for Apple Cake:

  • 3oz butter,
  • 6oz vanilla sugar, or unrefined castor sugar,
  • grated rind from one orange,
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence,
  • 8oz wholemeal self-raising flour,  (you can use white flour)
  • 1 lb apples (Bramley if you have them, or other cookers, but I use whatever I have), peeled,  cored and cut up into cubes,
  • 2 eggs, beaten,
  • 2 tablespoons milk,
  • approx 1 tbsp vanilla sugar for the topping
Somerset Apple Cake © Sue Todd 2015.

Somerset Apple Cake © Sue Todd 2015.

Method – to make Apple Cake:

If you are using a conventional oven, pre-heat to 350F/Gas 4.

Grease and line a 9 inch cake tin.

Cream the butter, sugar and orange rind together beating until the mixture is light and creamy in colour.

Mix 1 tablespoon of your self-raising flour in with the chopped apples in a bowl. Generally I have pieces of apple that are about 1-2cm in size, Gary chopped the apple for this one, so its a good bit bigger, still yummy though.

Now add the eggs and milk into the bowl with the creamed butter, sugar and orange rind mixture.

Add the rest of the flour and the apples to the mixture now and mix it up well.

Once its all combined, transfer the mixture to your prepared cake tin, smooth over with a palette knife and sprinkle a tablespoon of vanilla sugar over the top.

It will need 40 to 50 minutes in the oven and indeed depending on the sogginess (is that even a word?) of the apples it may need a bit longer. Test it with a metal skewer, it does tend to be a moist cake anyway with those hunks of apple in it,  but you will want to ensure its cooked through.  Having said that I don’t mind it a wee bit soggy in the centre, especially when its warm from the oven.

I use the baking oven of the AGA.  If it starts to brown too much, pop a cold tray in above it, just to stop it from browning too much.

To Serve:

Somerset Apple Cake © Sue Todd 2015.

Somerset Apple Cake © Sue Todd 2015.

I don’t think there is a time of day or year that isn’t appropriate for apple cake.  This apple cake is just delicious, you can eat it as it is, but its lovely with cream, ice-cream or even custard.  It makes a great dessert, its fab with morning coffee in the garden in summer, with afternoon tea by a roaring log fire in winter, or in large hunks for a picnic, and, as I mentioned earlier it’s also nice for breakfast or as a late night snack (I’m guilty on both counts!).  Enjoy!

Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla Sugar © 2015 Sue Todd.

Vanilla Sugar © 2015 Sue Todd.

For the great baking nation that it is, England doesn’t make enough of vanilla sugar.  I just adore the smell of it and use it all the time for cakes, crumbles, ice cream and deserts.

We have a large jar of vanilla sugar in the larder cupboard in our kitchen, which we simply top up as we use it. The smell is just divine, it evokes child hood memories of standing on a chair in the kitchen to help my mum make cake, licking the bowl out afterwards.  I remember when our children came along and the joy of baking with them being turned to dismay when I realised I’d have to hand the bowl over to someone else to clean out, even if it was my offspring!  Bad mother!

You can either buy vanilla sugar in the supermarket at vast expense for a ‘tiny’ amount OR you can make your own vanilla sugar by simply infusing sugar with the scent and taste of vanilla from vanilla pods.  Buying it ready done is to my mind a waste of money and would make regular use prohibitive. Continue reading

Seville Orange Marmalade

Seville Orange Marmalade © Sue Todd 2015

Seville Orange Marmalade © Sue Todd 2015

January and it’s that season once again, the Seville Orange Marmalade season!  Once you’ve made your own marmalade its impossible to go back to the stuff you buy from shops, it’s over sweet and so lacking in taste compared to the real thing.  Actually its much the same with any sort of preserves, home-made are always better.

I made this version of Seville Orange Marmalade for the first time just after moving home a few years ago, where I found myself with my very first AGA!   Not being very sure where to start I raced off to get some ‘AGA’ books.  This recipe comes from Mary Berry and her book ‘The AGA Book‘, which I highly recommend, it has a host of useful AGA information in it as well as some great recipes and instructions.  Everything is of course very easy in an AGA, but when confronted with one for the first time ….. it doesn’t seem possible. Continue reading

Gluten-free, Grain-free Banana Pancakes

Banana Pancakes, grain free, gluten free from English Country Cooking. © Sue Todd 2015.

Banana Pancakes, grain free, gluten free from English Country Cooking. © Sue Todd 2015.

These banana pancakes might be more aptly described as banana omelettes, but the idea of having a banana omelette really doesn’t appeal to me, so it took a while for me to come  round to this idea and try it out.  How ever I’m a true convert now.  Nutritious, scrumptious, so, so easy to do and fast.  What more can you ask?

Banana pancakes (or omelettes) are in vogue at the moment and there is stuff everywhere about them, with a number of variations, using cocoa,  vanilla extract and more.  With the view of more being less, I wanted to keep this quick and simple.  After all, there’s only one of us able-bodied at the moment, so fast and simple is good.

Literally just eggs and banana, you can’t go wrong I thought.  Well actually you can.  Do be careful when making these to keep them really small, not like normal pancakes and if you can’t flip normal pancakes (like me!!) then be prepared for these to look less than perfect.

They’ll still be edible and delightful to boot, they just won’t look quite so good – the proof of this is in the pictures where I’ve tried to dress them up prettily with fruit, but they had fallen apart substantially as I manhandled them over, in, and then out of the pan.  However it didn’t spoil the eating and they were so good I had them two days running for breakfast and they will feature very often for my breakfast now.

Banana Pancakes, healthy breakfast, grain and gluten free.  © Sue Todd 2015.

Banana Pancakes, healthy breakfast, grain and gluten free. © Sue Todd 2015.

Ingredients: (per person)

  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 egg
  • knob of butter or coconut oil
  • fruit and maple syrup to serve (raspberries, pear, blackberries and blueberries are all good)

Method:

Mash the banana well, you could blitz it with a hand held blender but it adds to the washing up, thought it will be faster and more effective.

Crack the egg open and beat it well before combining with the banana and mix up well.

Heat some coconut oil or butter in a skillet on a hot hob and add just a little bit of the mixture – about 1 tbsp of the mixture at a time for teeny tiny more manageable pancakes.  Let the pancake cook nicely on one side before flipping.  Once cooked lift out on to a warm plate and continue until the mixture is all used up.  You may find you can do a couple at a time this way.

Banana Pancakes and fresh fruit with maple syrup. © Sue Todd 2015.

Banana Pancakes and fresh fruit with maple syrup. © Sue Todd 2015.

Serve  with fresh fruit and maple syrup.  I used pear and some blackberries we had in the freezer, they were lovely.  I just defrosted the blackberries in a bowl on the AGA while they were being made.

Carrot Hummus, something healthy to start the year.

Carrot Hummus © Sue Todd 2015.

Carrot Hummus © Sue Todd 2015.

It’s that time of year where everyone is eating healthy food and the gyms are packed with those of us keen to shed the extra Christmas pounds.  Well we’re not going off to the gym and actually our diet hasn’t changed much even for Christmas, but we thought something healthy to start the year off was a good idea, so we offer you Carrot Hummus.

We stumbled across Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’ Carrot Hummus recipe while looking for another recipe, as yet unfound, its currently in one of those ‘safe’ places never to see the light of day.  It seems I’ve brought my penchant for safe places into 2015, oh well ….

Back to carrots…. This carrot hummus recipe works well with carrots that are past their best too.  I had a bunch of carrots that I suspected were headed for the compost pile – its currently feast or famine while I try to get the hang of this online shopping for groceries malarkey.  As we had more carrots than we actually need, we forgot about our original intentions and set too, to make this Carrot Hummus.  I have to say its fabulous and we had some for lunch today on toasted leftover french bread, along with some little quiches which also needed eating up like the bread.  It would work well to pop in a lunch box with crudites, pitta breads or on toast.

If you don’t have cumin seeds or coriander seeds but you do have ready ground cumin and coriander simply substitute these and miss out the toasting part.  It still tastes good.

Carrot Hummus garnished with basil and lemon © Sue Todd 2015.

Carrot Hummus garnished with basil and lemon © Sue Todd 2015.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds,
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds,
  • 6 tbsp of olive oil or rapeseed oil,
  • 1 tsp honey,
  • 500 g carrots, peeled,
  • 3 large garlic cloves, bashed,
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon,
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 3 tablespoons of tahini, (or smooth peanut butter),
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Method:

If you are using a conventional oven, preheat it to 200C/Gas 6.  Using a dry frying pan, toast your cumin and coriander seeds until they are just fragrant, you don’t want to burn them, so no longer than a minute.  Then grind these with a pestle and mortar until you have a fine powder.  (If you are using ready ground cumin and coriander, miss this bit out!).

Take a large bowl and whisk together 4 tsps of your oil along with the honey and spices (toasted or non toasted).

Dice the carrots up into 4 to 5 cm chunks and put these into the bowl with your dressing and the add the garlic.  Mix it all up well and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Tip the carrots and spicy dressing into a small roasting tin and pop it in the oven to roast.  If you are using an AGA, use the roasting oven.  They’ll need about 35 minutes in the oven, but do take them out half way through and turn them so that they cook/brown evenly.  When they  beginning to char nicely around the edges and are tender then remove them from the oven and leave them to cool for a while.

Tip the whole lot into a food processor now, ensuring that you remove any skins from the garlic cloves.  Add the tahini, the remainder of the oil and the orange and lemon juice and whizz up in the food processor until you have a puree.  Taste the resulting mixture and add more seasoning if needed.  That’s it!  Simples!

 

Carrot Hummus © Sue Todd 2015

Carrot Hummus © Sue Todd 2015

Happy New Year for 2015.

Well Christmas is well and truly over, hope you had a lovely Christmas.  I love New Year and the fresh start it brings (rather than the party side of things), and so the past week I have been sorting out, planning and getting ready for the year ahead.

We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who’s come along and read our blog this year and I hope we can continue to grow it over 2015, we have plenty of ideas.

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2015.