Tag Archives: seasonalfood

Lamb and Bean Casserole

As the winter months are starting to set in, it is worthwhile having a couple of casserole recipes at your fingertips.  Casseroles in my opinion are wonderful because you can leave them to cook away in the oven at a low temperature and know that after 2-3 hours you will have an amazingly tender meat and vegetable casserole ready to eat.  The other major benefit to a casserole is that there is really no need to serve anything with them other than some French bread – this is because the casserole contains all the carbohydrates and vegetables to make it a well-rounded meal.

A casserole dish is an invaluable piece of kit to have in your kitchen; however if you don’t have one then you could always use a deep oven-proof dish that you cover with a double layer of tin foil.  If you do this you will need to make sure that the tin foil is on very tight so that the steam stays inside the dish whilst it is cooking.

 

Lamb and Bean Casserole

Ingredients:

  • shoulder of lamb
  • 2 onions (diced)
  • 1 red pepper (diced)
  • 2 carrots (diced)
  • 3 celery stalks (diced)
  • a small bunch of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • tin of tomatoes (400g)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • ½pt vegetable stock
  • a tin of Cannellini white beans (800g)
  • 2 glasses of red wine
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 160C fan.

2.  Place Lamb in a large casserole dish with a little oil and cook for 5 minutes allowing the meat to brown off a little.

3.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, pepper, seasoning and paprika and mix well.

4.  Finally add all the other ingredients, cook for 10 minutes to allow it to come up to heat before placing in the oven and cooking for 2 – 2½ hours until the meat is meltingly tender and falls off the bone.

5.  Remove from the oven.  Take the shoulder out of the casserole and strip off any meat that may still be attached to the bones.  Cut the meat into bite sized chunks before returning the meat to the casserole dish; stir the well before serving with a slice of French bread.

A hearty chestnut soup

Given that chestnuts are very much in season at the moment I thought I would share another recipe in quick succession.  We ate this today for lunch and it was ideal after a long morning of painting.  I did all the preparation for the soup first thing so that I could literally throw everything in a saucepan and cook it when I came back into the house for lunch.

The soup is a wonderful combination of flavours, the carrots and chestnuts provide a certain sweetness, whilst the lardons add the right amount of salt to give it balance. The soup was fresh and filling and I am fairly sure we will be enjoying another batch of this again next week!

 

A hearty chestnut soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium potatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 2 baby/small leeks (sliced)
  • 12-15 chestnuts (see chestnut preparation)
  • 100g lardons
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1 litre of good stock
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

Steps:

1.  Place the lardons in a saucepan with a little oil and cook for 2-3 minutes on a high heat.

2.  Add the carrots and potatoes, stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes.

3.  Add the stock, leeks, thyme and seasoning, stir and cook for 10 minutes.

4.  Finally add the chestnuts and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Serve.

Seasonal quiche with chestnuts

I got a little bit excited when I went to the market on Monday because chestnuts were being sold in abundance.  When I see chestnuts being sold I always think of Christmas.  Chestnuts roasted over a fire, served with a little butter is my idea of heaven.  Chestnuts add a creamy sweetness to dishes making a very pleasant addition.

They do require a little bit of effort in their preparation, however it is worth taking the time and effort.   Below is a brief description of how I prepare my chestnuts before using them in a range of other dishes.

Preparation of Chestnuts:

  • Cut the chestnuts in half using a sharp knife (be careful as they can be fairly tough and the knife can slip). Discard any that are discoloured in the middle.
  • Place the chestnuts in a pan of boiling water and a little salt.
  • Bring back up to the up to the boil and cook for 5-7 minutes.
  • Drain the water off and then wash the chestnuts in cold water.
  • With any luck the chestnuts will have popped out of their shells however, if they haven’t, peel the shells off and use a knife to get rid of any of the husk.
  • Place the chestnuts in cold water until you need them.

The recipe below uses a number of seasonal ingredients which means the quiche is packed full of flavour.  The only sadness I had when making the quiche was the colour of the eggs. Sadly our chickens are off-lay as they are moulting at the moment, consequently we had to use shop bought eggs instead, which I always find a little bit disappointing as they are just not the same…

 

Seasonal quiche with chestnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of pre-rolled puff pastry
  • 100g lardons
  • 12-15 chestnuts (prepared as above)
  • ½ a sweet bell pepper (finely sliced)
  • 1 mushroom (diced)
  • 1 baby/small leek (finely sliced)
  • 1tsp thyme
  • 4 eggs
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 heaped tbsp crème fraiche
  • Seasoning
  • hard cheese (for grating over the quiche)

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 190C fan.

2.  Place the lardons and thyme in a frying pan with a little oil and cook for 2-3 minutes.

3. Add the leeks, peppers, mushrooms and chestnuts to the pan, stir together and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

4.  Whisk the eggs, milk, crème fraiche and seasoning together in a bowl. 

   

5.  Place the pastry in a flan dish, spoon over the bacon and vegetables, pour over the egg mix, then grate over some cheese.

6.  Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

7.  Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before eating.

 

Venison pasty

This weekend a member of the hunt came over bearing a side of roe deer as a thank you for allowing them to shoot on our land; so on Monday it needed to be butchered into manageable pieces.  After about an hour and a lot of knife sharpening I had a huge leg, a long slab of fillet, a kidney and about 2 ½ kilos of stewing meat packed away in freezer bags.  You might be wondering where the shoulder went – as the deer was shot just behind the foreleg it meant there were bits of bone fragment and shot around the shoulder.  Consequently, it was easier to clean and remove the bits of bone fragment from the shoulder by cutting it into stewing meat.

In France they do not tend to hang meat (in general) for very long – in this instance the deer had not been hung at all!   Therefore I was interested to see how it would affect the tenderness of the meat given that I was not going to be slow cooking it before putting it in the pastry.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the deer was not at all tough.  What I must stress however, is that it is incredibly important to try and remove as much of the sinew, veins and membrane as you can before you cook the meat.  This can be very time consuming, but it is worthwhile as it stops the meat becoming chewy or tough.

I decided to make some pasties using a little of the stewing meat and the kidney.  Last year I did a sailing course in Falmouth and it was there I discovered how comforting a good pasty can be – particularly after you had spent the entire day getting cold and wet on a boat.  The thing that I noticed when I had tried them was the importance of good seasoning, as it can make or break a pasty, so don’t be shy about using a healthy amount of salt and pepper.  The recipe below would work well with beef or chicken if you can’t get your hands on some venison.  If you fancy making it completely vegetarian just add some other vegetables in the place of the meat, for example carrots, spinach, butternut squash, Jerusalem artichokes, etc..

 

 

Venison Pasty

Ingredients: (makes 3 large pasties)

For the pastry:

  • 8oz plain flour
  • 2oz chilled butter
  • 2oz chilled hard margarine
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 3-4 tbsp water (to bind)
  • 1 beaten egg (for glazing)

For the filling:

  • 400g venison (any sinew and membrane removed and chopped into chunks)
  • 1 kidney (de-veined and chopped into chunks)
  • 1 medium potato (peeled and diced)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 baby turnips (peeled and diced)
  • 2-3tbsp red wine
  • sprinkling thyme
  • seasoning

Steps:

1. Firstly make the pastry – place the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Cut the butter and margarine into cubes, add to the dry mix.

2. Using your fingers crumb together the mixture (don’t worry if you have a few small bits of butter that haven’t broken down).

3. Then add the water (a little bit at a time) until the pastry comes together and you can make a ball.  Wrap the pastry in some cling-film and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

4. Whilst the pastry is chilling prepare you’re your filling, by mixing all of the ingredients together in a bowl, cover with cling film and set to one side until you are ready to use it.

   

5.Once the pastry has been chilled, remove from the fridge cut into 3 equal sized pieces. Roll out each ball on a floured surface to your preferred thickness, then using a bowl/plate as a template cut out a circle roughly 20cm in diameter.

6. Divide the filling equally between each of the pastry circles.  

   

7. Using a pastry brush, gently brush some of the beaten egg around the edge of the pastry to help it seal when you fold it over into a “D” shape.

8. Seal the pastry together first using your fingers and then take a fork and gently press down on the edges to form a crimped edge.

9. Finally, place the pasties on an oven tray that you have lined with greaseproof paper, brush the outside of the pasties with some of the egg wash and using a knife pierce the top of the pasties twice (this will allow the steam to escape whilst it is cooking).

10. Place the pasties in an oven that you have preheated to 190C fan for 40-45 minutes. Serve.

 

  

It’s a side issue – take 3

Side dishes don’t have to be complicated and sometimes it is the simplest of ideas that can make a side dish more appealing.  The things that I am suggesting in today’s blog are not revolutionary; however, they can enhance a dish, or be a welcome change if you are getting a little bit bored of eating the same types of food regularly.  Take mashed potato for example – if you fancy something a little bit different that works really well with sausages or a pork chop, try adding a little whole grain mustard as this can really lift the flavour of the meat.

Salads are quite possibly one of my favourite side dishes.  I adore the way that they are so simple to vary depending upon what is in season at the time.  We have loads of cherry tomatoes and green beans coming through at the moment and they are always great to throw in a salad.  Last week the radish patch needed thinning due to my wholly inadequate planting, so after a quick wash ‘the thinnings’ were tossed into a salad.  Young radishes have a lovely peppery flavour and are a pleasant addition.  So if you have a spare bit of ground/flower pot that you could plant a few radish seeds in I would absolutely recommend you do so, as you will get to enjoy both the baby and mature radishes all within a month of planting depending on the type of radish you choose.

A Garden Salad

Ingredients:

  • ½ round lettuce (washed and torn into manageable pieces.
  • handful of green beans (cooked and cut into 1” pieces)
  • small handful of young radishes (washed)
  • 15-20 cherry tomatoes
  • 8-10 black olives
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • seasoning
  • pinch of sugar

Step(s):

Place everything in a large bowl and mix together well – it is as simple as that.

Mustard Mash

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • 6-8 medium potatoes (peeled, cut into quarters)
  • knob of butter
  • 3-5tbsp milk
  • seasoning
  • 1 ½ heaped tsp whole grain mustard

Steps:

  1. Place the potatoes in a saucepan with some salt, cover with water and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer until a knife passes through the potatoes easily.
  2. Drain the potatoes and put back in the saucepan.
  3. Add the milk, butter and seasoning then using a potato masher, mash the potatoes until they are smooth.
  4. Finally add the mustard and stir well, until it is all incorporated.

Mini Apple Pies and Passion flowers

It is a glorious day, the sun is shining and it is starting to warm up outside.  I started the day by taking the dogs for a walk with Mumsy.  The walk normally takes around 20 minutes however today it took nearer 45 minutes.  You might think that this was due to our aged dog, Shadow, needing to take it slowly, but, this was not the case.  Today it was Mumsy holding us all up.  She had somehow managed to sneak past me carrying her secateurs – which meant she would gently prune “her plants and shrubs” as we went, taking cuttings if something nice caught her eye.  Fortunately no cuttings were taken, however she went ‘off piste’ a fair amount to inspect various shrubs and cut back brambles that were affecting no-one.  Regardless of the pace of the walk it was a very pleasant start to the day.

I pottered around the garden of the rest of the morning, helping tidy up as I went.  I came across a hedgehog as I was clearing away some planks and concrete blocks that had been used to support a water-butt.  I called Mumsy over to take a look, she was delighted at the discovery and suggested that we (by we she meant me) should create a shelter for it.  So having just put the concrete blocks away in a neat pile, I had to retrieve them to construct a shelter with a sloping roof as requested by Mumsy.  Rest assured, this hedgehog has deluxe accommodation to hibernate in throughout the winter months should it wish to remain in residence.

Over the last couple of days the passion flower has started to come out and today it looked spectacular.  Sadly our plant does not produce the fruit that you eat, however it looked so glorious that it seemed a shame not to photograph it especially as the Bumblebees are all over it at the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway enough waffle, time to talk food.  Yesterday I made some mini apple and sultana pies as some of the apples we stored had started to turn so they had to be used quickly.  In an effort to control portions I made mini/individual pies in a muffin tin.  I like pastry to be rolled very thin 1-2mm thick so the pastry stretched to 7 pies, however if you prefer slightly thicker then you will probably only be able to get 5-6 pies out of the pastry.  I served the pies last night with crème fraiche for ease, however tonight I am going to enjoy the last one with custard and I can’t wait!

 

Mini Apple Pies

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 6 oz plain flour
  • 1 ½ oz butter
  • 1 ½ oz hard margarine
  • 1 heaped tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • water (to bind)
For the filling:

  • 5-6 apples (peeled and cored)
  • handful of sultanas (soaked in 1 tbsp of fruit juice or rum)
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • sugar (to sweeten as required)
  • 1 egg, beaten (to glaze)

 

Steps:

 

  1. Prepare your filling by chopping half of the apples into small chunks and grating the other half.
  2. Place the apples, water, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a saucepan with a lid and cook on a very low heat until most of the apple has broken down before adding the sultanas and sugar as needed.
  3. Set the apple to one side and leave to cool whilst you prepare the pastry.
  4. Place the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Cut the butter and margarine into cubes, add to the dry mix.
  5. Using your fingers crumb together the mixture (don’t worry if you have a few small bits of butter that haven’t broken down).
  6. Then add some water (a little bit at a time) until the pastry comes together and you can make a ball.  Wrap the pastry in some cling-film and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Once the pastry has been chilled, remove from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface to your preferred thickness.                                                          

  8. Using a cutter or whatever you have to hand (I used a small bowl and a tumbler) cut out the tops and bottoms for your pies.
  9. Carefully place your pastry bottoms in the muffin trays before filling your pies with the apple.
  10. Use a little of the egg wash to help stick on the tops to your pies.
  11. Glaze your pies with the egg-wash then make a small hole in the top (to allow the steam to escape when they are cooking).
  12. Place in a preheated oven at 190C fan for 11-14 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before eating.

     

Autumnal soup

I have been mushroom hunting over the last couple of days as the weather has turned recently, producing “perfect” mushroom growing conditions – so I have been told.  This is the first year that I have turned my hand to this local sport as the land surrounding where we live is meant to be very rich for mushrooms.  In the spring I collected St George mushrooms (that were delicious in a rabbit pie) and Girolles which I used in an array of sauces.  However, I have only ever found three Cepes which are meant to be the most common mushroom in our area.  Earlier in the year I asked a local family who are members of the hunt whether they felt it was a good or bad year for mushrooms.  After much conferring they announced that it was a very poor year as they had only been able to find 20 kilos of Cepes in three hours!  This made me think that I am clearly doing something wrong, or I am not getting to the mushrooms before the other mushroom hunters.

So, now that the conditions are right I have decided to give mushroom hunting another try and recently I have come across several different types.  This has been great though the next problem has been that I have been unable to identify them bar one, a rather unattractive mushroom called ‘Langue de Boeuf’ (Beef Tongue).  A few days ago I went to the local pharmacy as they are supposed to be trained to identify mushrooms – however, unfortunately the man who would normally be able to help was away.

 

Today, one of our workmen with a great knowledge of all things to do with nature was on site, so I consulted him even though the mushrooms were a couple of days old.  He took a good look at them and said the following wise words, “as I do not know exactly what they are, you need to apply the number 1 rule of mushroom hunting, if you are even the slightest bit unsure what type they are NEVER eat them!”  He then regaled a story of one of his friends, who went mushroom collecting one day and came back with some mushrooms he thought he recognised, he ate some of them but as they didn’t taste particularly nice so he fed the rest to his dog.  That night the man was terribly ill, to such an extent he was admitted to hospital the following day but fortunately he recovered, the dog however sadly did not, and died.  Taking both this story and the number one rule of mushroom hunting into account I decided the best approach was to place the mushrooms in the bin.  (If anyone does have an idea what type of mushrooms these could be please do let me know.)

After my failed attempt at mushroom hunting I headed in the direction of our vegetable garden and decided to see if there was anything that was ready to be picked.  I found some baby turnips, Jerusalem artichokes, a diminutive pumpkin and a Praying Mantis.  I felt the best way to enjoy them (the vegetables not the Praying Mantis) was to put them into a chunky autumnal soup.  I decided to not to blend the soup because I wanted to keep the flavours separate as Jerusalem artichokes can overpower the other flavours when everything is all blending together.

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Shortbread recipes

The word “punghi” (spelling unknown – this is an educated guess) is derived from my Grandmother and is used instead of pudding in her household.  I only noticed that she spoke of punghi rather than pudding when I stayed with her for a week this time last year.  I have to say I am rather taken with the word and have now adopted it, as has the Old Man who asks daily “What’s for punghi?” regardless if there is a pudding or not.

Punghi in our house ranges from fresh fruit to a cooked pudding. Yesterday when the question was asked, I was able to reply ‘shortbread dressed with fruit and cream’.  I baked shortbread off the back of a comment I received from one of my friends last week when I posted a blog on liver and bacon (so Princess I hope you are reading this).

The recipe I normally use is 6oz flour/4oz butter/2oz sugar and then whatever flavouring I fancy.  However, yesterday I stupidly weighed out 4oz of sugar and tipped it into the food processor along with the flour before I realised what I had done.  I wasn’t able to double the ingredients as I didn’t have enough flour so I had to adapt the recipe. First, I added some cornflour, along with some salt (to counter the sweetness) and then some vanilla seeds (to flavour the dough).  The biscuits once cooked were sweet, crunchy and buttery.  I used half of the biscuits last night and the rest I stored in a biscuit tin, annoyingly the ones that I have stored have gone a little bit soft, which probably means I should have cooked them for a minute longer.  To rescue them I am going to put them in a hot oven for a couple of minutes before I eat them later today.

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Another glut – this time figs

We got the call on Sunday, it was from one of our neighbours (JP) saying that they needed help eating their figs.  We gleefully got in the car and headed over.  Not knowing how many figs there would be we took only one small plastic basket.  On arrival JP welcomed us, but upon catching sight of our basket shook his head, turned round and headed in the direction of his garage, muttering as he went “tu apporté un seule panier?” (you brought only one basket?).  Unsure what to do we headed in the direction of the fig tree,  JP quickly caught us up carrying two wooden crates and it became clear why – the tree was absolutely laden with fruit.  Some of the figs were so ripe they disintegrated in your hand as you pulled them from the tree, which meant of course you had to eat them – a burden that of course I took on.  Within 10 minutes we had filled not only our (wholly inadequate) basket but the two wooden crates as well.

The only slight snag with figs, when they are “that” ripe, is that you have to use them incredibly quickly.  Unfortunately we didn’t have any sugar in the house on Sunday and the earliest we could buy some was on Monday afternoon, which meant we lost a fair few.  However, those that we were able to save/use have been incorporated in: a tart, a jam, a chutney, dried figs and several light meals.  The chutney was made with a “throw it in and see what happens approach” – the reason being was that I had some quinces and apples that needed using up and I wasn’t sure what spices would work well.  The end result was surprisingly good and we now have 7 jars stored away though I doubt I will ever be able to replicate the taste again as I didn’t measure anything.

What I found worked best with the figs was creating a simple starter with some cured ham (no cooking involved).  Here is the end result:

Figs with Cured Ham

Ingredients:  (per serving)

  • 2 figs (quartered)
  • 1 slice of cured ham
  • small piece of red onion (finely sliced)
  • 1 tsp runny honey
  • Olive oil (for drizzling)
  • balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze (for drizzling)
  • Black pepper

Steps:

  • Place the pieces of fig on the plate, scatter over the onion and drape over the cured ham.
  • Drizzle over the honey, a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Season with freshly ground black pepper.

 

 

The Beekeepers Apprentice

This year I have undertaken the role of a beekeeper’s apprentice as my father has a small apiary at the bottom of one of our fields.  At the start of the year we had three hives which required very little attendance, other than making sure they had enough syrup during the cold winter months.  The fun really started when around April when the decision was made to artificially divide the hives in the hope that this would stop the hive from splitting and then swarming later in the year.  Well… that was the theory…

I spotted the first swarm on the first truly hot day of the year in the middle of May, fortunately my father was in the house when it happened, and with his help and guidance together we caught the swarm in a box – before then re-housing it in a ruchette (little hive).  The following day there were two more swarms.  So once again we donned our bee-suits and caught them both before once again re-housing the swarms in separate ruchettes.  I vividly remember half way through rehousing the second swarm (which is done by placing a white sheet in front of the ruchette with a plank of wood leading up to the entrance – so they can quite literally walk into their new home once you’ve upended the box of bees on to the sheet) my father turning to me and asking me if I could try to spot and then catch the queen (please bear in mind there tend to be thousands of bees in a swarm) whilst he popped back to the barn to get something.  I set about this task during his absence and with the help of the workers bees who tend to bow with their tails in the air when a queen is in close proximity, I managed to catch not just one queen but five queens (please note this is NOT normal).  After a lot of deliberation we decided to let all the queens go and watched them all head on up into the Ruchette – which with the joy of hindsight and a little bit of research on Google was entirely the wrong thing to do.

I suspect you might have already guessed what happened next…

 

       

The following day when both my parents were out at a friend’s birthday lunch, I popped down to check the hives at midday to find three swarms.  With no option other than to catch the swarms myself I armed myself with the swarm catching kit (aka 2 wine boxes and a wicker waste paper basket) and set about catching and attempting to re-house each of the swarms.  To say I had one or two problems was an understatement!  One of the swarms decided they did not want to enter the new ruchette but instead they would rather remain in the wooden box – so after two attempts I decided to leave them in the box.  One of the swarms did enter the ruchette but two hours later decided they would rather swarm again and  take up residence on a branch 3 metres away.  So I had to catch and re-house them twice.  As for the third swarm that was placed in the wicker basket I decided after all the excitement of the second swarm I would leave them be (excuse the pun) until my father’s return.

Similar events occurred the following weekend (typically when my parents were away visiting friends leaving me in charge of the smallholding and all its occupants).  Below is an email I sent to my father whilst he was away to update him on the “Bee situation”…

To: Dad

Subject:  Bees

Dear Dad

 Well this is how yesterday went.  Saw big swarm – put it in a box very easily.  Went to get Ruchette, with Susan’s [A Beekeeping Friend who was somewhat of a life saver] help kitted it all out and went and put them in the box.   Meanwhile another sneaky swarm was forming so after rehousing the first, went and put 2nd swarm in box.  Left them until 7pm – both swarms were still in situ so I rang Susan!  Susan had fortunately just reorganised her bees, so told me to pop over and collect her display hive.  She gave me more wax and cardres…  I then came home and sorted it all out, and put the bees to bed – which was in fact a much bigger swarm by the time all the bees had gone into the box than I would have thought.  So I then put those bees to bed (please note as I did so I saw what looked like a new young queen – who must have gone into the ruchette as the bees flooded in…)

So this morning, I am going to remove one of the feeders from a ruchette and give it to the second new swarm.  Will look at the big hive at the same time…

Love Ant

P.S  I dislike your bees immensely right now!!!

P.P.S Lambs and I are not on speaking terms as they have taken a chunk out of my index finger.

After all the excitement of the swarms during May, things calmed down considerably and the only thing that needed to be done to the hive was place a super on top to allow the bees to start making their honey which they have been doing all summer.  At the end of last week it was decided that the honey harvest was to happen and so, over the course of one afternoon, we spun the honey out of the frames using a centrifuge which has left us with roughly 82kg of honey…

I apologise for the length of the blog and don’t blame anyone who scrolls straight down to the recipes, which surprise, surprise involve honey as an ingredient…  Over the last couple of days I have made a number of dishes but there are really two that stood out.  The first was a play on an upside down cake and the second can really only be described as a fancy cheese on toast starter.  But without further ado here are the recipes.

Honey, Reine Claude Plum and Apple Upside Down Cake (Serves 8-12)


Ingredients:

  • 5 eggs
  • 250g cooking margarine
  • 250g sugar
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cardamom pods (shells removed and seeds crushed)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 15 plums (stoned and halved) – I used Reine Claude
  • 2 medium apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
  • 5-6 tbsp honey (runny)

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 160C fan.  Line and grease a 30cm cake tin.
  2. In a bowl, beat to together the margarine and sugar until soft.
  3. Add the eggs to the mixture slowly (adding a little flour if the eggs start to curdle).
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom and beat together thoroughly.
  5. Pour the honey into the bottom of the cake tin, using the back of a spoon to help evenly spread the honey around the bottom of the tin.
  6. Add the fruit in the pattern you would like (remember it will become the top of your cake).
  7. Finally pour over the batter and place in the over for approximately 50 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean).
  8. Serve with crème fraiche.

Fancy Cheese on Toast (Serves 3)

Ingredients:

  • 6 pieces of melba toast
  • 100g soft goats cheese
  • small handful sliced almonds
  • 6 fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 ½ tsp runny honey
  • Black pepper (seasoning)

Steps:

  1. Cut the cheese into 6 slices.  Place a slice of the cheese onto each of the melba toasts.  Place under a hot grill for 1 minute.
  2. Whilst the cheese is under the grill, heat the almonds in a frying pan on a hot heat for around 1 minute.
  3. Remove the cheese on toast from the grill and plate up – by placing two of the toasts on each plate, scatter over a few almonds, drizzle over ½ tsp of honey, place a coriander leaf on each of the toasts and season with black pepper.  Then serve quickly so you can enjoy them whilst they are still warm.