Thursday, 14 March 2013

Good cake, bad cake

The baby is turning 4 this week , so there has a been a whole lot of baking going on. The small has been demanding strawberries for weeks, and with her mean mother refusing to buy the foreign version, I set a deadline that she could have them on her birthday. So as the date neared she hadn't forgotten and declared she wanted a strawberry cake. In a moment of mild inspiration I decided to make a strawberry shaped cake. This beast was made with 10 eggs and was a classic Victoria sponge recipe. The current favourite recipe in our house is to weigh the eggs and use the same amount of butter, sugar, and self raising flour(in this instance an alarming 600g). We then add to this some baking powder, a splash of milk and vanilla. Once it's baked I loaded it with butter icing, 1 pack of butter to 1 pack of icing sugar, with a squirt of lemon and some sieved strawberries for pink.
A few years ago when my nephew turned 1 his mother produced some tin foil wrapped banana cake for his birthday, "banana cake for a birthday" I exclaimed at his earth mother. Anyway after a few years of ridicule I find myself making a banana cake to take to their house for our birthday celebration. I had been delighting in my latest banana cake recipe, a a variation on the Peyton and Byrne one. When I run bath half marathon a few weeks ago it was the very thought of my slice of banana cake wrapped in tin foil that got me through. Today's attempt was somewhat more hurried which meant I missed some of the highlights: the muscovada sugar, the spelt flour and the sprinkling of caster sugar over the unbaked cake. Note the pink icing was not a good alternative. Of course it still tastes great so let's eat cake.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Marmite with cheese crumbs

This is no Michelin starred dish, but a desperate solution to there being no food in the house. As we wake up to the shock of a dark morning, it worsens as we go downstairs to find there is no fruit and fibre for the boy and not much for the lunchbox. As the mother of all invention after I had squeezed one sandwich out of the cheese there was only the cheesy crumbs left in the bottom of the packet. So this morning for breakfast we have marmite and cheese crumbs on sherston toast and fire porridge, with optional extra fire all to the tune of gangnam style. As for lunch there's jam sandwiches, and for me I'm heading to the shops....

Monday, 5 November 2012

Spiced potatoes

I am currently working on a new project with Foodbank.  We are aiming to produce seven recipes, one for each day of the week, for a main meal using mainly Foodbank ingredients.  With this they can give out a specific box of the right ingredients and recipe to make  a meal. In this we hope to provide a bit more inspiration and help in how to produce a healthy cheap dinner for your family.  I have been experimenting a bit and tonight came up with a spicy potato dish.  We hope that through donations we can provide fresh potatoes and spice mixes to give people a more varied meal. I have a cupboard full of rarely used spices and the more I cook the more I think you can add as much or little variety of them as you have.
Spiced potatoes.
10 small potatoes
2cm fresh ginger sliced finely
1 chilli, deseeded and sliced
2tbs vegetable oil
1tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp garam masala
Scrub the potatoes and boil until tender in their skins.  When cooled rub the skins off.  Heat the oil and fry your mustard seeds until they pop, add the cumin seeds then the fresh ginger and chilli.  When this has softened add any of the spices you’ve got, then break the potatoes into the spice mix, fry for a couple of minutes then add half a cup of water and cook until it’s absorbed and the potatoes are crisping a bit. Season well and squeeze over some lemon if you like.
We served ours with raita, rice and some green beans, although the temptation was definitely to just eat all the steaming potatoes straight from the pan.

Monday, 15 October 2012


I just realised that I don't have enough cake recipes on here, I have two staple cakes that fill our family like nothing else,

My mother in laws apple cake
In theory perfect at this time of year when apples should be in abundance,
1lb cooking apples-  I often use a mix of cookers and eaters
2oz raisins (optional)
1oz walnuts (never put in!)
4oz butter
40z sugar brown or white
5oz self raising flour
1 egg
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the sugar, flour then egg. Next add the peeled chopped apple and any of the other ingredients you fancy using.
Bake in a small spring form tin at about 180c for 30 minutes.

Lemon cake.
Zest of two lemons
6oz butter, sugar, sr flour
3 eggs
Juice of two lemons
31/2 oz caster sugar
Cream together the butter and sugar, add the lemon zest then the eggs with alternate spoonfuls of the flour.  Combine, I bake mine in a shallow rectangular tray 25x18(ish).  Bake at 180c for 25 minutes, Mix together the topping and when golden and cooked through pour over the hot cake.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

foodbank crumble recipe

Today we have been loving the most perfect autumn day, awaking to the first frost and bright sunshine was enough to put an autumnal spring in our step.  This beautiful day was well timed as today was our community orchard day.  We joined with our neighbours celebrating the years crop and harvest, or as it was this year the celebration of the one noble apple that grew alone.  This mighty lonesome apple was given pride of place at the centre of the table, a beautiful symbolic apple, shining red and green for all an apple represents and this year sadly, our crop of one was testimony of a terrible year for growers.  As we hear wheat prices are set to go up by 40% and the dismal statistics across europe from food growers, who knows what effect it’s going to have .  It makes the notion of food waste all the more repugnant. At our school’s harvest festival the kids sang a very relevant tune, “7 million tonnes of food thrown in the bin every year”.  
As dependable as the trees turning, for us harvest time means a good fruit crumble, but with only a few bramley apples on the tree in our garden I turned to my foodbank ingredients to make one.
Tinned apricot crumble recipe.
1 tin of apricots
40g cold butter
40g oats
40g flour
2tbsp sugar
Drain the tin of apricots keeping back the juice, place them in a small dish that goes in the oven. Cut the butter into small pieces, rub into the flour until it looks like sand, stir in the oats and sugar.  Pour over the apricots and bake in an oven until golden brown, serve with the leftover juice poured over, custard, cream or all three. 

Friday, 12 October 2012

Food bank fish cake recipe

Last week we were able to join in a great celebration of our area's finest food at the Cotswold Life food and drinks award.  This highlighted just how amazing a food hub Gloucestershire is, and how over the last 10 years our area has really put itself on the culinary map. At the awards we had a great salmon starter from the Coln Valley Smokery.  And it has been my inspiration for this week's dish, looking at my pyramid of food tins to create this Food Bank recipe.
So I made fish cakes, you could easily make these fish finger shaped. I had some breadcrumbs in the freezer which I covered them with for extra crunch, you can also use crushed ritz crackers. If you ever have some leftover stale bread you can freeze them into breadcrumbs to use for all sorts of wonderful purposes.

Fish cake recipe.
30g smash
150ml boiling water
Large tin of salmon
Slice of onion
2 tbsp Flour
1 egg
Breadcrumbs or crushed ritz crackers

Chop the onion very finely and fry in oil with a pinch of salt until softened. Make up the smash by adding the boiling water into the powder, stir until blended and thick. Then add the drained salmon, fried onion and season well. Stir together with a fork.
Put the flour in a wide shallow bowl.  To make the fish cakes, roll a tablespoon of the mixture in your hand then roll in the flour.  To give the fish cakes more crunch after flouring dip in the beaten egg then the breadcrumbs. Then fry on both sides until golden then put on a baking tray in a180c oven for 15 minutes.
We ate ours with a mixture of green vegetables heated in some butter, to form a filling balanced meal for us all.

Food bank chilli recipe

My new project, to provide The Stroud Food Bank with recipes started this week with a different type of shopping list.  I filled my basket at Horsley village shop and carried the weight home. Once the kids had built towers with my new ingredients I set about working out what to do with my tins of food, the majority were savoury but a few are sweet.
Inspiration struck and I decided a Corned Beef Chilli would be a good start.
1 onion
1 clove of garlic(optional, dried could also be used)
Cooking oil
Pinch of chilli powder( or any form of chilli you've got, fresh, dried or Tabasco)
1tin of corned beef
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of carrots (optional)
1 tin of kidney beans
Firstly I fried the chopped onion in a splash of oil with a pinch of salt, as this softened I added the clove of garlic, this was then followed by the corned beef, the tin of tomatoes (always swill the tin out with a splash of water then add), the carrots, then the drained rinsed kidney beans. This was simmered for 15 minutes over a low heat until reduced.
We ate ours with gusto and some, rice, grated cheese and homegrown lettuce.
How to cook rice.
I always cook rice in the same way and it always works whatever the quantity.
Heat a spoon of oil or butter in a saucepan, fry the rice grains in this until they are coated and golden.  Add twice the amount of cold water to the rice to the saucepan, bring to the boil, stir for the last time, put on a lid and after ten minutes keep checking and cook until all the water has been absorbed. Cover the rice with a clean tea towel, replace the lid and leave for up to an hour or until your ready to serve.
This recipe feeds 4.