Another ‘why haven’t I made these before’ moment. Easy, cheap and delicious.
My recipe came from bbc good food. Batter made with egg whites added at last minute. I added some baking powder to increase the bubbles and it was lovely. Rather than chives I added some tarragon leaves but, frankly, any herb or none would do.
Fry dessert spoonfuls of the batter in an oiled pan, flipping when bubbles appear. Makes about 20 – 24. Just don’t snack on too many while cooking. Can be reheated or frozen.
Fabulous donated fruit needed to be used so, using searches with different combinations of my supplies generated a few kitchen experiments …
I started with fig, date and marrow chutney then plum frangipane tarts. Then a look through ‘save room for dessert’ prompted plum and blackberry bars.
I roasted some plums with fig and rosemary to have cold, made some plumbrillo (pictured) to have with cheese and then put the rest of the plums into the favourite spicy Chinese style plum sauce. This batch turned out super spicy!!
Finally a trawl through the ever reliable bbc food site brought up slow slow cooked marrow and butter bean ideas. I switched out the suggested fennel for chili. Really brilliant discovery.
‘Why didn’t I know that before?’ Making your own vanilla essence is super easy, saves money and provides a quality ingredient that you don’t need to go to the shop for. BUT it isn’t instant so I am making this now for use in winter cooking.
Easy peasy make: cover vanilla beans with vodka for at least two months. I used 2 and a half beans in a 1/3rd of a litre bottle.
Do your research on quality of beans and proportion of bean to alcohol but it is that easy.
My advisers (bloggers and diy’ers galore) tell me you just top up the bottle with more vodka to make this a perpetual supply…
At this time of year our herb pots provide more than we can use so I like to make fragrant posies. This time I used some well soaked oasis to support the stems in a wide necked pot and found they lasted much better than in water.
The things we find during a lockdown cupboard clean…in this case a big bag of walnuts gifted by our neighbours last autumn. Determined to put them to good use here are some of the recipes I found on walnuts.org (California walnuts promo site)
Walnut pesto (replace pine nuts in the classic recipe)
Walnut and Parmesan ‘cream’ a veggie pâté alternative
Walnut ‘meatballs’ where mushrooms are used
Walnut honey butter, a sweet chunky ‘peanut butter’
These waxed wraps really come into their own when you are cutting down on cling film and foil.
Today I ‘re-waxed’ some of my older fabric squares to renovate and extend their life. It is more efficient than starting from scratch, even after months of use the fabrics still hold quite a lot of the original wax.
I sprinkle a teaspoon of wax pellets over the cotton square then sandwich it between parchment paper (baking or waxed paper will do) and run a hot -no steam- iron over it until the wax has melted in. I turn the fabric over and iron again so that excess left on the paper can be absorbed by both sides.
Subsequent sheets to be ironed need less wax (you can shave a beeswax candle if you don’t have any other wax) because you will have some residue left on your parchment paper.
These wraps fold nicely over bowls, around cheese or seal opened packets in the fridge. The warmth of your hands helps shape them enough to fit and they just wipe down between uses. You can see I store mine on the side of the fridge with magnets so I have them to hand.
New menus and cooking methods have flooded into our kitchen recently. Many discovered when browsing digital magazines courtesy of our library card. So here are the tastiest (we think) so far …
1.Savoury bread and butter pudding: basically fried leeks instead of jam on the bread and cheese in the ‘custard’ rather than sugar
2. broccoli pasta – cooking broccoli in with the pasta for the last 3 minutes makes it a lighter, tastier dish, even for the broccoli hater in the household. Top with your usual pasta sauce
3. Frozen bananas found lurking at the back of the freezer work brilliantly in banana bread. Made more mix than fits your loaf tin? Dig out the mince pie tray to make Muffins
4. Ingredients intended for stuffing that never made it to the Christmas table combine to make great meatball replacements. Why these hid behind the frozen bananas is a mystery.
5. Jamie Oliver is an inspiration. His no frills gnocchi (mashed potato leftovers with just enough flour mixed in) are lighter and lovelier than bought
6. Dredging steaming hot, par-boiled parsnips in flavoured flour means the flour sticks without need for egg wash. You can roast them immediately or freeze them ready floured so they can be roasted at a later date
I love the daily ‘one good thing by Jillee’ blog post. Lots of practical tips to make daily life a little better. Her recent post for diy fly paper got me thinking.
We usually buy plastic window stick ons in France to deter kitchen invaders but as that isn’t feasible at present wanted to make a pretty version of Jillee’s paper strips. So I die cut pieces from brown paper before dipping them in a sugar/honey syrup and hanging the dried sticky piece near the fruit bowl ready for open window weather.
Tip: thread string through the paper before dipping, it is messy to do it afterwards.
In the face of February storms and thwarted plans a cake bake brings a little cheer. Found this recipe in the manual for my elderly bread maker. I couldn’t take the paddle out of the bread maker so baked this in the air fryer instead. Delicious.
Mix dry ingredients then rub in butter and add wet ingredients, mix well and spoon into small pan lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for 30 mins at 170 degrees. If a knife blade comes out clean it might be ready, if not keep going for up to 50 mins (the bread maker timescale).
How to use the hazelnuts that the French squirrels didn’t beat us to… a small harvest so I want to use them carefully. These biscotti will stretch and keep well so seem to fit the bill.
It is a recipe from the great British bake-off apparently but so easy that I would recommend it to anyone with a reliable kitchen timer. Half one batch shown here. Not as dry as the ones I have bought.