Nibbling

Nancy at Spirit Lights the way tempted my taste buds last week with a photo of Sweet Potato Fries seasoned with Lime Salt & Fresh Mint with a Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce on the side.

It sounded like it was right up my street.

  • Sweet potatoes. Check
  • Lime. Check
  • Rock salt. Check.
  • Fresh Mint. Alas I had finished the last of it a couple of days earlier.

I did have some Sweet Chilli sauce to which I added a teaspoon of honey and a dash from my ever open vermouth. So I set to work.

First I zested a lime and found a small screw top jar for salt and zest. I gave them a shake and left it to work the magic.

Zested Lime for Lime Salt & Chilli Dip

Zested Lime for Lime Salt & Chilli Dip

Later I scrubbed some sweet potatoes and parsnips (my own touch) and cut them into chunky chips.

Lime salted Sweet potato & parsnip Chips

Lime salted Sweet potato & parsnip Chips

My starter to enjoy by the fire!

Thank you Nancy!

Food Monday ~ Lemon Spinach with Pancetta & Walnuts

Lemon Spinach with Pancetta & Walnuts

450g spinach
50g butter
2 tablespoons walnut oil
100g pancetta, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
100g walnut halves
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons

Remove the stalks from the spinach, wash and then dry in a salad spinner.
Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan with the pancetta, garlic and walnuts.
Cook until the pancetta is crisp, garlic golden and the nuts are toasted.
Add the spinach, lemon juice and lemon rind to the pan. Cook the spinach for 2 minutes over high heat , stirring all the time.
Remove from the heat and keep warm until ready to serve.

Food Monday ~ Pineapple Fruit Cake

A moist fruitcake that keeps well in a tin, ideal to share with unexpected visitors over a warm cup of tea or coffee.

Pineapple Fruit Cake
Preheat oven to 180°C

150g Demerara sugar
100g butter
400g tin of crushed pineapple
350g mixed dried fruit – I like to use sultanas
100g cherries
1 tablespoon whiskey
2 large eggs beaten
250g self raising flour, sieved

Place the first five ingredients in a pan and heat slowly stirring until the sugar has melted. Bring just up to almost boiling point, reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes. Allow to cool, then add the beaten eggs and the flour and mix to combine then stir in the whiskey. Pour into a greased and lined 8-inch cake tin and level the cake mixture. Bake in a preheated oven for approx 1½ hours. Allow cake to cool in the tin, and then store in an air tight tin or the freezer.

Food Monday ~ Chorizo Stuffed Tomatoes

Chorizo Stuffed Tomatoes
Preheat oven to 190°C

6 large Beef Tomatoes

For the Stuffing:
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
3ozs chorizo sausage chopped
1-2oz Gruyere Cheese, grated
1oz fresh Breadcrumbs
Salt & Black Pepper
2 tblsps flat leaved Parsley chopped

Halve the beef tomatoes widthways and scoop out middles into a bowl. Place the tomato shells on a greased baking tray.

Fry the onion and garlic in a little vegetable oil, cool slightly and add to the tomato in the bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix.

Spoon into the tomato shells, drizzle with oil and bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes.

Serve garnished with Salad leaves.

Food Monday ~ Roasted tomato, apple and onion chutney

Chutney needs time and patience and is not for the five minute cook. Stick with it and the rewards can last for weeks or months. Chutney works well with cheese, salads, and cold meats, or as I do: I use it to line my bread in a sandwich.

We made this chutney in three stages, so I have broken up the ingredients & method for each part.

Roasted tomato, apple and onion chutney

Stage 1

1 kg tomatoes.
4-5 cloves of garlic * (optional)
Fresh thyme
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Cut the tomatoes in half end-to-end, and place cut side up on a baking tray. Slice 4-5 cloves of garlic, if using, and sprinkle over the tomatoes. Strip several sprigs of fresh thyme, and sprinkle the leaves over the tomatoes. Season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper and drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over all of the tomatoes.
Place in the oven at 200°F for about 50-60 minutes.

Stage 2

3 large onions, chopped
225g Sultanas
30mls dark brown sugar
30mls balsamic vinegar
extra-virgin olive oil

Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan over a low heat and gently soften the onions for 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium and add in the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, stir well and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, add the sultanas and cook for five more minutes.

Stage 3

1 kg Bramley cooking (tart) apples, peeled, cored and chopped to large dice
450 ml water.
150g caster sugar

Place apples and water in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and cook 25 minutes, or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Add more water as necessary to keep the apples simmering. Reduce heat, add the sugar and dissolve over low heat.

Stage 4

Add the roasted tomatoes, & onion and all their juices plus all the remaining ingredients.

10mls dessertspoons salt
550ml white wine vinegar
5ml mixed spice
5ml Peppercorns
Inch of root ginger, grated **
Good dash of white wine (optional)

Stir well. Bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce heat to a strong simmer for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a thick chutney. Seal chutney in sterile containers until serving.

* My sister is not a fan of garlic, so we omitted it.
**We had no root ginger, so we added ½ a teaspoon dry ginger &1 tablespoon stem Ginger syrup.

I will make it again, changing the spices with my mood on the day.

Food Monday ~ Profiteroles

Profiteroles
Preheat the oven to 200º C

2 ozs butter
¼ pint water
2 ½ ozs plain flour, sieved
2 eggs

Filling
whipped cream

To serve
chocolate sauce

Melt butter in the water and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat and add the flour at once. Beat with a wooden spoon until the paste is smooth and comes away from the sides of the pan cleanly. Remove the dough from the pan and place in a bowl to cool slightly then beat in the eggs gradually, adding just enough to give a smooth mixture of piping consistency.

Pipe onto greased baking sheets in small buns about 5cm/2in in diameter leaving at least an inch between each bun.. Bake for 20-25 mins, until puffed, golden and crisp.
Allow to cool on a cooling rack, make a small slit in each for steam to escape.
Fill with Whipped cream, arrange the profiteroles on a plate and drizzle with chocolate sauce over the top.

A quick and easy chocolate sauce

3 Mars Bars
3 tblsps Milk

Chop the Mars bars and melt together with milk in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring all the time (the water shouldn’t touch the bottom of the bowl). Pour over Profiteroles while still hot.

Ever try a savoury version? They work just as well and makes a great appetiser.

Sprinkle the top of the buns with favourite chopped herbs, ground spices or grated cheese before putting in the oven to bake.

For the savoury fillings try:

  • cream cheese and chive
  • prawn & mayo
  • cheese and spinach
  • egg mayo
  • bacon and sundried tomato
  • pate mixed with a little cream
  • smoked salmon pate works particularly well

Now I wonder…… would Hummus work?
Happy nibbling!

Food Monday ~ Preparing for Winter

I woke this morning to the first real sign of the change in the seasons: A line of condensation on the inside of my bedroom window.

Time to prepare for the winter ahead.

Sore throat remedy.

  • Turmeric
  • Honey
  • Ground basil
  • Hot water or milk

Make a paste of about a tablespoon in total – equal portions of each turmeric, honey and ground basil then dilute to about half a glass in hot water or more usually milk.

Gargle well and swallow. Repeat gargling to use all of the mixture.
Try it before going to bed and Bingo! – Next morning your throat should no longer feel like sandpaper!

# ~ # ~ #

Cold Cure

  • 1 large mug
  • 3 spoons of honey
  • 3 thin slices of root ginger
  • 2 lemon slices
  • 1 hefty shot of whiskey
  • 12 cloves
  • Pinch of Cinnamon

Stud the lemon slices with cloves put in mug with the remaining ingredients. Pour boiling water over the lot – drink – enjoy – Sleep like a baby

I suggest you print these out and stick them inside the door of your medicine cupboard. Well, it is the first place you go to seek out relief for all ailments.

Food Monday ~ Blueberry Crumb Bars

I love blueberries and wanted to use some today. Digging into my ever growing bundles of recipes I came across this one for Blueberry Crumb Bars. A slice goes down well with a cup of coffee or they work well for a quick dessert with a scoop of ice cream or a spoonful of whipped cream.

While typing out the recipe, I automatically typed ‘Swiss roll’ to describe the tin. That is what we called them back in Mammy’s kitchen. Who makes Swiss rolls today? I used to be a dab hand at it back in the day. Maybe they will come back into favour along with baked Alaska, one of these days.

Blueberry Crumb Bars
Preheat the oven to 190°C

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups plain/all-purpose flour
1 cup cold butter/8 ounces
1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
½ cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Grease a 9×13 inch Swiss roll tin.
In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together the ½ cup white sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until top is slightly brown.

Cool completely before cutting into squares.
These are easiest to cut once chilled, and store even better in the fridge than they do at room temperature–something unusual for cookies!

For variation why not try sour cherries or cranberries when they are available. I prefer to use orange instead of lemon with cranberries.