Sunday, 10 January 2010

Baking Day

Aah, the appeal of a warm kitchen, Rayburn running and the prospect of homemade biscuits and cakes - a real tonic on a Winter Sunday!

I don't often use the oil-fired Rayburn in our kitchen but with snow outside and time to spend a day in the kitchen I thought the prospect of baking in a warm kitchen was irresistable, so I fired up the Rayburn, put a pot of soup on the hotplate and a gammon joint in the oven and headed for the baking tins.

Ginger Choc-Chip Cookies
8 ozs butter, softened
3 ozs light soft brown sugar
9 ozs SR flour
2 tbsps golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 ozs dark chocolate drops
2 ozs preserved ginger, roughtly chopped

Butter 2 large baking sheets and cover with baking parchment. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Stir in the remaining ingredients to make a soft dough. Roll the dough into walnut-sized pieces and space out generously on the baking sheets. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6. Bake the cookies for 12-15 mins, until light gold in colour -they will still feel quite soft in the middle. Leave on the baking tray for about 5 mins then transfer
with a palette knife to a wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

January Cottage Pie

Yesterday recovering from my cold I ventured out to do some much needed fresh food shopping. The crisp snow on the ground and the sub-zero temperatures called once again for some heart-warming fayre, so how about a traditional cottage pie? I have most of the ingredients in the store cupboard, so just some good fresh beef mince and vegetables to accompany the pie were required.

I used the remainder of the celeriac mash from another meal mixed with additional potatoes to cover the pie. A very rustic and tasty meal if not quite fine dining!

Holly Grove Cottage Pie
Serves 4
For the filling
1 lb steak mince
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely
2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 stick celery, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tin chopped tomatoes
8 fl ozs beef stock
2 tbsps Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsps tomato puree
salt and pepper to taste

For the topping
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4-6 ozs strong Cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup creme fraiche

Brown the mince in a large pan. Remove the mince with a slotted spoon and place in a dish. Drain off the fat from the pan and add the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook gently until the onion is softened. Add the carrots and celery and heat through. Return the mince to the pan and add the tomatoes, stock and Worcestershire sauce. Bring gently to a simmer. Cover and simmer for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally. About 15 minutes before the sauce is ready add 2 tablespoons of tomato puree to thicken the sauce. Season to taste.

Meanwhile put the potatoes in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover them. Bring to the boil then simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain the potatoes and push them through a potato ricer into a bowl. Add the creme fraiche and beat until smooth. Add about 2-3 ozs of the cheese and mix through the potatoes.

Take a pie dish and 2/3rds fill with the minced beef mixture. Top this with the creamed potato and then cover with the remaining cheese. place the dish on an oven tray and bake at 190C for 25-30 minutes until the topping is bubbling and golden.

Serve with green vegetables.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Bangers and Mash

Comfort food comes in no better form than a well cooked sausage, or so it seems to me as I gaze out on a snow covered garden and watch the sheep snuggled in their woolly coats in the adjoining field. But what to add to the deep and succulent flavour of our butcher's best sausages - how about celeriac that the Handyman has pulled from the kitchen garden?

Sausages with Celeriac and Peppercorn Mash
Serves 4


2 large onions peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
8-12 butcher's best sausages
1 HG celeriac, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 lb HG potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 tbsp green peppercorns in brine
100 ml creme fraiche

Preheat the oven to 190C, gas mark 5. Cut the onions into wedges and place in a roasting tin. Drizzle with the oil and cook until beginning to colour (about 15 mins). Add the sausages to the tin and cook for a further 30 mins until golden and cooked through and the onions are beginning to caramelise.

Meanwhile place the celeriac and potatoes in a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 15-20 mins, or until tender. Drain well, return to the pan and mash until smooth.

Lightly crush the peppercorns using a pestle and mortar and add to the mash along with the creme fraiche. Stir lightly to combine and season to taste. Spoon the mash onto warmed plates and top with sausages and onion.


I added a couple of handfuls of frozen peas to the sausages and onions for the last 5-10 minutes of cooking in the oven;
other vegetables could be
added to be roasted alongside the onions.

I didn't have any green peppercorns so I substituted with a few chopped capers.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Winter Chills

I'm sitting in front of the fire wrapped in blankets with a nasty cold feeling very sorry for myself. The fields outside the window are covered in a heavy frost and a smattering of snow, perfect weather for a mug of hot chocolate, some Christmas biscuits and a favourite film on the DVD - I'm beginning to feel a bit better already.

More recipes to follow when I've stopped sneezing and sniffling!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Hogmanay Pie

Wishing you all health, contentment and happiness in 2010!

The Handyman and I had a lovely New Year's Eve (known to all Scots as Hogmanay), just the two of us in our cottage home. Traditionally we have a beef and ale pie for our evening meal on Hogmanay and this year was no exception. The filling for the pie was slowly cooked for around 5 hours in a very low oven and then placed in a pie dish covered with puff pastry and returned to the oven. Served with mixed winter vegetables (carrots, parsnips and brussel sprouts) and creamed HG potatoes - delicious when complimented by a glass or two of St Emilion! A lovely meal to end the old year.

Hogmanay Pie
Serves 4-6
1 packet ready made puff pastry
1 lb stewing steak
6-10 shallots, peeled and left whole
2 parsnips, peeled and thickly sliced
3 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
chestnut mushrooms
3/4 pt beef stock
1/2 pt Guinness
pl flour mixed with 1 tsp mustard powder to coat the beef
1 tsp dried sage

Heat some oil in a heavy based frying pan. Add the shallots, carrots and parsnips and fry gently until the onions have browned slightly. Remove from pan and place in a large casserole dish.

Heat some more oil and add the beef coated in flour in small batches, browing all over, then remove and place in the casserole dish. Repeat until all the beef has been browned.

Pour off the excess oil and add the stock and Guiness to the pan. Bring to the boil and then add the dried sage. Pour enough of the liquid over the beef and vegetables to cover and stir to combine. Cover the beef mixture with a circle of greaseproof paper and place the casserole lid on top. Put the casserole in the oven at 120C - 140C for at least 4 hours. Check the liquid level from time to time adding more if required. After about 3 hours add the mushrooms, stir to combine and return to the oven.

When the beef is cooked spoon the mixture into a pie dish and cover with the puff pastry. Place the pie dish in the oven at 200C for aproximately 25 minutes until the pastry has risen and is golden. Serve with creamed potatoes and vegetables of your choice.
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