Heat the oil. Sauté the onion for 3 minutes until translucent.Add the diced cleriac and parsnip. Cover and cook on a low heat until the veg is tender about 5 minutes. Add the hot stock, stir well, cover and cook for 10 further minutes. Add the seasoning except the chilli flakes. Stir well. Cover and cook until all veg is tender.
Remove from the heat. Blitz with a hand-blender. Sprinkle a few chilli flakes on each serving. Serve hot,or portion and freeze when cold.
And next Easy, Peasy, Spinach (and anything else in the fridge that’s green) Soup
Again about 150 calories per mu-full
You will need exactly the same equipment as for the Spiced Cerliac and Parsnip soup.
Makes enough for approximately 6 servings
400g (ish) frozen peas
1 large pack of fresh, baby spinach
Any salad leaves, watercress, rocket that might be lurking in the fridge begging not to be thrown away
1 clove of garlic, grated
1 litre of veg stock
A sprinkle of seasalt
A shake of white pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional – Half a teaspoon of dried mint
A dollop of Greek yogurt to serve if desired.
Put all the I gradients in a pan. Bring to simmering point. Do not over cook. Allow 3 or 4 minutes to simmer. Blitz with a hand blender.
Serve with a dollop of Greek yorgurt if desired, or freeze for later in the week.
I have a confession to make which might shock: I don’t like cake. There, I said it!I don’t ‘do’ puddings and cakes.The only thing I might eat, to be sociable, is biscuit or cookie. So here is my mahoosive, celebration cookie recipe…
Don’t buy one, make one!
To buy a celebration cookie from a specialist cookie maker at the shopping centre can be fraught with problems.Celebration cookies can be expensive and they are difficult to get home.
It is far more rewarding to make your own.And it is really easy.
You will need:
Ingredients for one 14” cookie
225g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
175g dark brown soft sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
280g plain flour
1/2 a teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
340g chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate of your choice)
This is the perfect vegetable accompaniment to many of our favourite, comforting, winter dishes.It goes just as well with a hearty Cottage Pie as it does with Christmas dinner!And it’s the perfect fruity, side-dish for game – particularly venison.It is so easy to make and it freezes well.
It’s definitely a family-pleaser – even for those of us who aren’t that keen on their veggies… well not yet anyway!
750 gms red cabbage, shredded (coût out the core, as in the picture above)
It is thought that the humble plum pudding’s association with Christmas goes back to medieval England. It seems that the pudding should be made on the 25th Sunday after Trinity and that it be prepared with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and the 12 apostles, and that every family member stir it in turn from east to west to honour the wise men and their journey in that direction.
The Church and the Pud
However, recipes for plum pudding mostly start to appear in the 17th century. It had a very strong connection with the church.
The ‘collect’ for the Sunday before Advent in the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer begins with the words ‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works.’
This led to the custom of preparing Christmas puddings on that day which became known as ‘Stir Up Sunday’. Stir Up Sunday for 2018 would be 25 November.I am ahead of the game this year.
Fruits from all corners of the world
There was a variety of ingredients and methods of making plum puddings.Many pudding recipes often contained meat, as well as the sweet ingredients.Before being steamed in a cloth the ingredients were sometimes stuffed into the stomach of an animal – similar to that of the Scottish haggis or sausages.
I like to think that the fruits and spices represent all the corners of the world and symbolise the harvest and survival food for winter.A pudding fit for a king!
A favourite recipe
It’s really quite easy to make Christmas pud.Especially if you have a tried and trusted recipe – like Delia’s. https://www.deliaonline.com/It’s always a winner and it always turns out just right.Thank you Delia… although over the last 30 years,I have made it my own.It makes 3 – 4 puddings dependent on the size of your bowls.
About thirty years ago a friend convinced me that homemade mincemeat was the best.She was not wrong and pointed me in the direction of Delia Smith https://www.deliaonline.com/.Yes of course I had a Delia Smith cook book (well four actually), seriously who didn’t back in the 80s?I loved that book, I never had a failure from it! However, I did adapt and ‘improve’ a little and put my own spin on certain recipes. But in the main, we have Delia to thank for this delight.
The origins of mincemeat
I love the origins of the mince pie too.The ingredients for the mince pie we know and love can be traced back to the return of the crusaders from the Holy Land.Middle Eastern methods of cooking (which sometimes combined meats, fruits and spices – Heaven forbid!) were popular at the time. Pies were created from such mixtures of sweet and savoury foods (I am not sure about that either!) In Tudor England, shrid pies were formed from shredded meat, suet and dried fruit. The addition of spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg was, ‘in token of the offerings of the Eastern Magi.’ During the English Civil War they were banned, on account of its connection with Catholicism. Crikey! The hubster would never have survived. I also believe it is ‘bad luck’ to refuse a mince pie (I avoid being offered one) and… you should always make a wish as you bite into the first one of the season.
Everyone loves a mince pie… well nearly everyone
They are well-loved in our household.My son loves them with an almond paste/marzipan top.The hubster just loves them! Fortunately (or unfortunately) I DON’T. Anyway, here is my recipe for homemade Christmas Mincemeat:
The equipment you will need:
450g cooking apples, peeled cored and finely chopped
Today’s soup recipe is not to everyone’s taste but most people I know like it.It’s smooth delicious and nutritious! A quick and easy recipe. Almost impossible to go wrong and it freezes well. This soup has a lightness and it’s great for filling a flask to accompany a Winter walk.
Heat the oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes until translucent.Add the diced potato.Cover and cook on a low heat until potato is tender about 5 minutes. Add the chopped celery, cover and cook for 5 minutes.Add the hot stock, stir well, cover and cook for 10 further minutes. Add the seasoning. Stir well. Cover and cook until all veg are tender.
Remove from the heat. Blitz with a hand-blender add the milk. Serve hot,or portion and freeze when cold.
Sprinkle on grated mature cheddar cheese and serve with crusty bread. Or crumble some Blue Stilton cheese on top.
Heat the oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes until translucent.Add the diced potato.Cover and cook on a low heat until potato is tender about 5 minutes. Add the tomato purée and white wine vinegar. Crumble in the stock cubes, stir well, cover and cook for 2 further minutes. Add the seasoning. Stir well.Add the tinned tomatoes. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.Add the 2 x 1 litre cartons of tomato juice. Stir. Cover and cook for a further 15/20 minutes or until all veg are tender.
Remove from the heat.Add all the basil (I don’t think it is possible to have too much basil, although it is possible to have too little!) Blitz with a hand-blender. Serve hot,or portion and freeze when cold.
To make it even more heart-warming, sprinkle on grated mature cheddar cheese and serve with crusty bread.
I love to make soup. I find it very therapeutic and relaxing. It’s a good feeling to make it in batches and then freeze for cold, winter days. The only drawback is I probably make too much, the hubster tells me off for filling up the freezer.
First soup of the season
I got the urge to make soup yesterday. Carrot and lentil. I thought I would share the process with you.
Carrot and Lentil Soup enough to serve 12. (Good for a bonfire party or to freeze). Scale down for smaller quantities.
Peel the veg and immerse the lentils in cold water
Heat the oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes until translucent. Add the carrots, stir well, cover and cook for 3 further minutes. Add seasoning and spices. Stir well. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Add soaked lentils. Stir. Add stock. Stir. Cover and cook for a further 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Blitz with a handblender. Serve hot, or portion and freeze when cold.
Add chilli flakes and extra cumin to spice up to taste. Serve with crusty bread and perhaps sprinkle some mature, grated cheddar on top – watch it melt! Delicious.
’The boys’ came to stay with us last night and so as part of a full programme of activities, making flatbreads was top of the agenda this morning.
And this is how you do it:
Preparation time 5 minutes, cook time10mins
The dough for this recipe is so easy to make with only a couple of minutes of kneading required. The bread is good for using as a wrap.
10oz / 300gplain flour
3 1/2 tbsp / 50gbutter (1.75 oz)
3/4 cup / 185 mlmilk
1/2tbspoil (for cooking)
Combine butter and milk and heat until butter is just melted – on stove or in microwave.
Combine flour, salt, butter and milk.
Sprinkle work surface with flour then knead for a few minutes until it is smooth – it doesn’t need much kneading. Add extra flour if the dough is too sticky.
Wrap with cling film and leave to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes
Dust countertop with flour, cut dough into 4 pieces, roll into balls, then roll out into about 1/8″ / 0.3cm thick – they don’t have to be round!
Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a non stick pan over medium heat
Place one flatbread in the pan, cook for around 90 seconds on each side it should bubble up – then turn. and cook the other side. There should be a small, golden/dark brown spots on both sides.
Pile up the cooked bread and keep wrapped with a tea towel – the steam helps soften the bread
Cooked breads keep well in the freezer or in a sealed bag or container for a couple of days. Sprinkle grated cheese on top when they are still hot and perhaps a shake or two of garlic salt as a variation.
I have a very special relationship with Elderflower Cordial. It is a ritual I perform every year and the opportunity to make this wonderful ‘summer in a bottle’ is fast coming to a close as the blossoms fade.
Every year at this time I collect elderflower heads and remember my Mum. It was the last thing that we did together a couple of weeks before she died eleven years ago. She had a large elderflower bush at the bottom of her garden and I remember that she reached up with her walking stick to bring down the biggest blooms. This unique liquid is literally bittersweet for me, she loved it – and everyone who has tried it loves it too.
Mix it with prosecco, gin, vodka – or sparkling water of course – and it can be used to flavour cakes and desserts. Here’s how to make it:
25 – 30 heads very fresh elderflowers
1.5kg (3lb 5oz) granulated sugar
3 large unwaxed lemons,
75g (2-¾oz) citric acid (available at Wilko’s, chemists or winemaking shops)
Gently shake the elderflower heads to remove any bugs.
Put the sugar and 1.5 litres (2 ½ pints) of water into a saucepan, bring to the boil. Stir from time to time to dissolve the sugar. Remove the zest from the lemons broad strips with a peeler and put in a bowl with the elderflowers. Slice the lemons thinly and add to the bowl. When the sugar syrup has come to the boil, pour over the flowers and lemons. Stir in the citric acid. Cover with a clean dry cloth and leave in a cool, dark place for 24 hours.
Strain the cordial through a muslin-lined nylon sieve into a large bowl or container. Pour into warm, sterilised bottles and seal. (Or plastic water bottles for the freezer, just remember to leave enough space for expansion. This way you can have the taste of summer at Christmas!)
Leave to cool and keep in the refrigerator. It will last for four to six weeks.