Peach and Blueberry Clafoutis

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This is a great little healthy pudding and I should think any fruit could be used as alternatives. I’ve used apricots before…

Ingredients

4 whole peaches or a tin of peaches – stones removed and cut into pieces

1/2 lemon – juice

Vanilla essence or pods

2 tbsp light brown sugar – less if tinned

2 eggs

75g caster sugar

100g self raising flour

100g greek yoghurt

100ml semi-skimmed milk

200g blueberries or other fruit

1 tbsp flaked almonds – just enough to sprinkle across the top

 

Method

  • Grease a 1 litre dish2016-02-20 14.37.58
  • Add peaches, lemon juice, vanilla (if using) and the light brown sugar to a pan. Heat through until peaches are soft.
  • Whisk the eggs and caster sugar until light
  • Add the flour and whisk until smooth
  • Stir in the yoghurt

The latter produces a batter based consistency.

  • Line the base of container with fruit but save a few blueberries for the top if using
  • Pour the batter and remaining blueberries on 2016-02-20 14.37.43
  • Scatter the flaked almonds over the top
  • Cook until the top is firm about 30 minutes at 180ºC, Gas 4

 

Serve with either Greek yoghurt, ice cream or custard whichever is your preference.

 

 

Scales or Cups in the Kitchen?

20160220_074533.jpgI hadn’t really given much thought to the difference in recipes between the Uk and the USA until yesterday. My closest American friend asked me why are there so many conversions for different liquids and solids from cups to grams?

My immediate response was I didn’t know and in fact after researching a little I’ve still no idea. Perhaps it’s because I’m so used to using scales I’m unable to see ‘outside the box’ on this subject. Although I came across this article (baring in mind this isn’t necessarily my view) Confusing Measurements.

As a child my mum used imperial measurements for years, so I learnt about ounces and pounds for weights. During my school years I had to learn both metric and imperial and be able to convert freely between the two. Whilst my children grew up I used just metric with them. However, we still talk about a pint of milk rather than in litres. Also when I pick the fruits from the trees I weigh in pounds and ounces but I do convert it. I have this image of when I was about 4 or 5 and weighing the most enormous cooking apple we’d picked on some red scales in pounds.

My parents (who live next door) tend to use imperial still but mum will claim she uses metric. Dad is amazing at being able to convert yards into miles, inches into centimetres and feet into metres within seconds.

Yesterday my daughter returned from University and took over in the kitchen with her friend. They’ve both worked in kitchens waitressing together for a year or so. They grabbed the digital scales and set to work in metric measurements along with the odd tablespoon measurement.

I’m still none the wiser when it comes to weighing in cups and all the conversions.

Butternut, Ginger and red Pepper Soup

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A tasty soup with a bit of a zing from the Ginger – mmm my  kind of soup.

 

Ingredients

1 Butternut squash, peeled and diced

1 red onion

1 or 2 red peppers

Coarsely grated ginger

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

parsley to garnish

75g of wholemeal/seeded bread cut into small chunks

1/2 tsp mixed herbs

800ml any stock of choice

2tbsp vegetable oil

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Method

  • Place the onion and garlic (if using) into the pan with the oil and cook until softened.
  • Add the butternut Squash, red pepper, ginger and chilli flakes
  • Stir being careful that nothing gets burnt
  • Pour the stock over the mixture
  • Leave to simmer with a lid on until the butternut is soft
  • Put the chunks of bread onto a baking tray. Drizzle with some of the oil and all the mixed herbs and season with black pepper.
  • Transfer to a blender until smooth
  • Serve with croutons and garnish in the middle

This soup freezes well.

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Tasty Delights

This week I’ve felt the need to be a little more conscious of what I’m eating. I’ve doubled the amount of water that I usually drink in a day and no snacking at all once I’ve eaten my evening meal. I’ve also been more active in an evening. I used to walk a lot in the evenings but it seems to have lapsed and just confined to a weekend. Also 15 minutes before eating an evening meal I’d eat half a grapefruit. The enzymes are supposed to help to burn fat though has it many other benefits in a diet.

I decided to make a hearty Chicken Chorizo & Chickpea Casserole.

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Adapt quantities for your household

Ingredients

2 large potatoes (adaptable)

1 tbsp vegetable oil

8 slices chorizo (adaptable)

2 chicken fillets (adaptable)

1 leek or onion

can of chickpeas (drained)

can of chopped tomatoes

tomato puree

300 ml chicken stock or stock cube

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1.5 tsp chillie flakes

Good handful of kale or spinach

Method

  • Bring the potatoes to the boil for 8 minutes and drain
  • Add the oil to a pan and cook the chicken pieces
  • Add the onion/leek and chorizo until onion/leek are softened
  • In a large pan/casserole dish put all the ingredients apart from the spinach/kale and bring to the boil.
  • Simmer for 30 minutes
  • Put in the spinach/kale for 5 minutes

Sprinkle the casserole with parsley, serve and enjoy!

As for my desert…

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Well it had to be a slice of homemade Coffee and Walnut cake!

Did I lose weight – yes and feel much better for it.

Freaky Frank Hour

In one hour minor mishaps seem to have occurred two of them down to Storm Frank.

Whilst hundreds in the Uk are suffering terribly with floods in and around their homes I feel I’m lucky not to have had this ordeal. My heart goes out to you guys but I did suffer a little drama.

I popped outside to shut the Ladies (hens) in for the night only to discover in the barn just outside their pen a ladder was strawn across the floor. Whilst my head was getting around this I noticed the metal wheelbarrow with chicken muck in, was upside down too.

There are two giant windows about 2m x 1.5m with a metal grid covered in plastic preventing the barn from most of the outside elements from coming in. As the frame is only attached at the top it acted like a hinge I suppose and knocked things flying. I’ve not known it to happen before. 2015-12-31 09.33.58 2015-12-31 09.35.17

My dad had been in there (he told me later) and moved an old wheelie bin (refuse bin on wheels) to prevent the frame from lifting. This in turn had caused havoc with the pecking order for the Ladies. Spangle likes to perch on the 14 foot high panel rather than sitting with the others at night. Moving the bin prevented her from reaching her post. She was running up and down inside the pen not knowing where to sleep. Sophie was squawking at her and Queenie appeared to be telling everyone off. The next minute Spangle flew to the perch everyone was on, sat on a few Ladies until eventually settling down next to Lacey. Humours chaos…

Back indoors I’d already started making a Passion Cake from a new recipe using bananas and pineapple. It was a little fiddly but I managed to get it into the Aga (oven) before going out to see to the Ladies. I took a peak at the cake on my return, it was partially burnt. I was surprised as cooking time was 60 – 70 minutes, this was 20 minutes into the cooking time! Slightly disheartened I moved it to the cooler oven as it wasn’t cooked through yet.

2015-12-30 17.08.52By now the rain was lashing at the kitchen windows and the wind was howling. It was pitch black outside. Then I noticed a large puddle of water on the work surface, where had this come from I wondered. I looked up at the window to see water seeping in from behind the closed air vents. There was a constant trickle of water coming in and not much I could do about it apart from mop up the puddles.

The rain subsided, the cake was cooked and the Ladies had all settled. Now all that was left to do was start making the dinner. Would I make the cake again? It tasted ok but not special, I’m tempted to bin it to be honest. I haven’t take a photo of it  (pride got in the way) as it looks a complete mess.

Frankly I’m relieved Storm Frank has fragmented. 🙂

 

 

Succulent Scones

 

These are just the handiest snack to have tucked away in the freezer.

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Ingredients

450g Self raising flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

100g butter

100g caster sugar

125g sultanas/raisins

275ml natural/greek yoghurt or milk

 

Method

Combine all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl until a fairly firm dough. Then roll out to 2cm or 3cm, I tend to do the latter. Use a large round cutter and place onto a greased baking tray. They do rise and expand a little so give them a little space between each one.

  • 230ºC/Gas Mark 8
  • 10 – 12 minutes until golden brown.

Best served warm with butter, jam and cream if you like it.

Once cold I always store them in bags in the freezer as taste better fresh and not a couple of days old. I couldn’t possibly eat a batch in a day. 😉 I’ve substituted raisins for walnuts before, which give a great different texture. I’ve also cooked spinach and added for a savoury taste, you can admit or add less sugar for the savoury ones.

My friend gave me the cake stand as she’s moving house – I love it!

Food Frenzy

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As the biggest foody day of the year in the Uk passes, its time to make the most of what is left rather than throwing the whole lot away.

A couple of sharp knives, a black pen, lots of small freezer bags and scales are required. I just slice off all the meat left (chicken and gammon) and weigh the meat before putting it into small bags. I thought this might be an easier way when using in recipes or grabbing a small amount for sandwiches, rather than having excess defrosting which you know won’t get used.

Next I chop up any fresh veg but especially onions and celery and throw them in the casserole pot with the chicken carcass. Add water, stock cube and let the Aga (oven) do the rest.

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Some of this I whizzed up into soup and bagged. Some was bagged just for chicken stock for using in subsequent recipes at a later date.

 

 

Is there really any point in doing any of this? Monday morning arrives after the festive break – Help what can I take for lunch? Bingo, just grab a bag of frozen soup and a microwave container and a healthy lunch is done in seconds.