Easy Peasy Mint sauce

Copious amounts of mint have been dried, frozen and made into tea already but still there is an abundance to be used. So mint sauce is today’s kitchen craft.

Chop leaves finely (don’t blend or it will be a purée) and steep in boiling water for a couple of minutes to tenderise them. Meanwhile, mix 1 tablespoon of malt vinegar with 1 teaspoon of caster sugar and a pinch of salt, scale up this mix so you have enough to cover the leaves.

Drain the leaves and rinse in cold water to stop them ‘cooking’ then put them in the jar/ saucer before pouring over the vinegar mix. Ready to use in half an hour, will keep in clean jar for weeks.

Liven up peas, potatoes, carrots, chicken and of course goes well with lamb.

Herb harvest

I went into the sea

Up to my knees

Started to freeze

So came home and made mint syrup…

Two handfuls of mint stick-blended with half a cup of sugar. Three cups of water with another cup of sugar brought to the boil. Mint mix added to water and simmered for 10 minutes. Left to stand then double filtered before bottling.

Great in cocktails, with sparkling water, in herb tea, over ice cream or yoghurt.

Leftover baking

I needed to make some space in the fridge so wanted to empty some jars. Leftover cookies were created using the remains of a jar of mincemeat and some liqueur chocolates that had been lurking since Christmas. Recipe varied from one on BBC good food site

150g dark brown soft or caster sugar,125g butter, ½ heaped tsp salt, 1 medium egg, 4 tbsp mincemeat and a handful of liqueur chocolates, 220g plain flour,½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Mix ingredients, spoon into balls and make for 12 minutes in oven at 160C. I put half in silicone Yorkshire mould to make giant cookies. All were squidgy when first out of the oven but firmed up as they cooled. Yum.

Valentine bakes

So who are these cookies for?

Doggy cookies made for a little Valentine treat to brighten up a lockdown Sunday.

Recipe found as a Christmas offering but easily translates with the right cutter.

Mix: 100g plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons olive oil. form a dough then roll out and stamp shapes – about 12. Bake on silicone sheet in 180C oven for about 20 minutes.

Box made pizza box style with decorations from standard shapes on the scan and cut.

Port wine sauce

What to do with Christmas port?
  • 1 oz. butter
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • ¾ cup Port
  • teaspoon onion powder
  • Teaspoon cornflour
  • Zest of a small orange
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme

After meat is cooked and while it is resting deglaze the pan with the butter and soften the onions then add other ingredients and reduce. Whole process should take about 4 minutes

We had ours over pigeon. But would work with venison, sausages or pork. The orange gives it a lovely lift.

Bloney good blinis

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.

Fruit harvest creations

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.

Vanilla Essence

A cupboard essential you can easily DIY

‘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…

Walnut Windfall

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’

Smoked spicy walnuts to nibble on with aperitifs

Silver lining, cooking discoveries

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