Saturday, 26 October 2013

mini bundt cakes

 
 I love browsing in kitchenware shops, but it is a dangerous occupation because I always chance upon something I didn't know I needed, but which I then can't live without, which is how I came to buy some mini bundt moulds from a well known kitchenware shop.

 


 
The name Bundt refers, not as I originally thought, to a particular recipe, but to the distinctive shape of the cake, which was popularised in America in the 50s and 60s after NordicWare began manufacturing the moulds.


 
 
After leafing through my cookery books and some 'googling' I decided on a recipe from Nigella Lawson's  How to be a Domestic Goddess book.
 

 
 
The recipe was straightforward, simply a case of mixing the wet ingredients together and then stirring into the dry ingredients.
I found that half quantities nicely filled my 4 moulds and I put the moulds into a deep muffin pan for extra stability whilst they cooked.
 
The result was a lovely moist cake, quite similar to Madeira cake.
 
 
 

 
Why is it that little, individual cakes are so enticing, so appealing ?

But I also have my eye on this amazing Christmas tree cake tin!
Although, given its limited seasonal use, I really don't think I can justify the rather large price tag...
but I'm working on an excuse!
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

harvest thanskgiving

 Looking back, this has been a good year for the lottie.
There was the very cold spring of course, but that was followed by a 'proper' summer, with lots of sunshine to ripen the crops.
In common with other people, we had a bumper soft fruit harvest with loads of luscious strawberries, blackcurrants and rhubarb.
 
 
 
 
The squash also loved the hot sunny weather and lay basking in the sun, turning a beautiful golden hue. They are now tucked away on a shelf in the garage.
Earlier in the year we enjoyed lovely buttery Charlotte potatoes ( I've been less impressed with the Anya potatoes and will probably give them a miss next year) and some bug free salad, not forgetting lots of ruby red beetroot.
All in all, plenty to be thankful for.


 


Saturday, 12 October 2013

parsley pesto

 
 
I have been picking parsley.
 
The parsley seeds I planted earlier in the year took a long time to get going, not surprising given the very cold spring, but now the herb has taken over half of one of the raised beds.
Just look at the amazing colour green.
 
 
Something so green has to be good for us ...and so it is, full of vitamins and antioxidants.
 
Not so long ago, parsley (often in its curly form) simply had a 'bit part' at mealtimes, but it deserves much more than that and as the main ingredient in a pesto, it can, at last, have a starring role.
 
 I used a recipe from Hugh's veg book, which used more or less equal quantities of pine nuts, parsley and parmesan with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, but the good thing about pesto is that the nuts and/or herbs can be varied to suit and the other quantities tweaked to taste.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The parsley still retains its vibrant colour.
I made lots as I am going to freeze some, so we can enjoy the fresh, summery taste into late autumn.


Tonight, mr digandweed and I enjoyed the pesto stirred through pasta with roasted butternut squash.


 


Saturday, 5 October 2013

pear and vanilla butter


Dancing-girl and her husband have an old pear tree in their garden which has produced a bountiful harvest this year.
Some of the pears found their way to my kitchen to be made into a recipe which I had spotted in the latest book to join my collection
Perfect Preserves by Maggie Mayhew.

The recipe is entitled pear and vanilla butter.
 
 
 
 
 A fruit butter is generally softer than jam and spreads like butter - hence the name!
 

 The ingredients are:
 
 
 
 And the method is quite simple.
 
Place all the ingredients except the sugar into a pan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. then uncover the pan and continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes until the pears are very soft.
Remove the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the mixture.
Tip the fruit and juice into a blender and puree, then press through a sieve.
For every 600ml/1pint of puree add 275g/10oz warmed sugar.
Stir the mixture over a low heat until the sugar dissolves and then boil for 15 minutes until the mixture holds its shape when spooned onto a cold saucer.
Pot in the usual way and store for at least 2 days before using.
 

 
The resulting preserve is delicious -softly spreadable with tiny flecks of vanilla seeds