Friday, 31 December 2010

Another Hogmanay

New Year's Eve quickly the months go by!  And an eventful year for us at Holly Grove: a new roof on the Goat House destined to become a garden studio...

New windows for the house to keep out the winter chill...

Then all the garden produce through the summer and autumn...

Memories of sunny days and meals with friends...


And two little people very special to me...

Farewell 2010 and forward on to 2011...wishing you health, wealth and happiness (and lots more cooking) in the coming 12 months!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Ooh, Another Sweet Treat

'Tis the season of cakes and sweet things...well, it is here at Holly Grove and today's treat makes use of some raspberries frozen from our summer harvest. This makes a lovely fresh, zesty and moist cake..delicious and possibly one of your 5-a-day!

Raspberry and Blueberry Lime Drizzle Cake
For the cake
225g softened butter
225g caster sugar
3 large eggs
2 limes, zest and juice
250g SR flour
25g ground almonds
100g each raspberries and blueberries

For the drizzle
1.5 tbsp lime juice
70g caster sugar

Line the base and sides of a 20cm/8in square cake tin (not loose-based) with greaseproof paper. Set oven to 180C.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light. Gradually beat in the eggs. Beat in the lime zest, then fold in the flour and almonds. Fold in enough lime juice - about 3 tablespoons - to give you a good dropping consistency (the mixture should drop easily from the spoon when tapped). 

Fold in three quarters of the blueberries and raspberries and turn into the prepared tin. Smooth the surface, then scatter the remaining fruit on top - it will sink as the cake rises. 
Bake for about 1 hour, a skewer pushed into the centre should be clean when removed.  

To make the syrup: put the lime juice, zest and sugar in a small saucepan. Put over a gentle heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, prick all over with a skewer then spoon the syrup over it. To store, cool before wrapping in paper and/or foil.

Friday, 24 December 2010

December Freeze and Christmas Fare

The weather outside remains frozen and white but it's cosy and warm in HG's kitchen and the thought of spending Christmas with loved ones makes it warmer still - so safe journey to those travelling and MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL!

Holly Grove at Christmas time doesn't mean a traditional Christmas lunch; what it does mean is a Christmas table of home baked and cooked delights - all being well.  I moved away from the traditional raost turkey and all the trimmings some years ago when my boys and the Handyman's children were teenagers and we couldn't guarantee who would turn up when.  Add to that mix my sister and her vegetarian brood and the result is my, now much anticipated, Christmas buffet.

The core of the feast remains the same most years - people seem to like a bit of  predictability - so a capon and a gammon joint, mince pies and Christmas cake, the remainder of the food varies each year.  This year I'm adding two new dips - a white bean dip and an avocado and cumin dip - and some homemade parmesan biscuits.

The rest of the menu looks like this:

Avocado and Cumin Dip
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and then ground
2 cloves garlic, pressed and ground with 1/2tsp salt
2 avocados
3tbs tahini paste
juice of 2 lemons
2 tbs olive oil

Scoop out the flesh from the avocados, clean out the skins and rinse and dry them - reserve for later. Place the avocado flesh and all the remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Serve the dip in the avocado skins garnished with strips of red pepper - very fast and very festive!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Festive Frost

At first I wasn't sure that this month's NCR challenge from Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes belonged on my kitchen blog - a festive photo challenge - it seemed more suitable for Holly Grove Garden.  Anyway after wrapping up like an eskimo and venturing out into the garden to take some winter wonderland photos I came back to a white onion soup and suddenly the challenge seemed most appropriate. There's nothing like an onion soup to warm the cockles of your heart and beat a nasty cold...except perhaps a delicious mug of hot chocolate!

Anyway the temperature here in the Shropshire countryside remains around minus 7 degrees and the hoar frost on the shrubs and trees makes a lovely picture...I hope you'll agree?

Winter Blue
And now here's the recipe for the white onion soup to warm us up after venturing out with the camera, yum!

Winter White
White Onion Soup
Serves 4
1 oz butter
4 large onions, thinly sliced
1 small leek, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
250ml white wine
500ml vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
small bunch parsley, chopped 

Melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Add the leek, onion and garlic and cook slowly with the lid on for about 10 minutes until softened but not browned.

Add the wine and bring to a fast boil.  Boil until the wine has reduced by about a third.  Add the stock, bay leaves and parsley and bring back to the boil, then turn the heat down.  Simmer for about 2 hours and then blend using a hand blender.  Seve with good brown bread.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Mushroom Magic

It's the season for mushrooms and I've bought another mountain of them, so having made soups and put them in almost all of my cooking I thought I'd try a mushroom pate...a trial run for an addition to our Christmas table.  The result was delicious, which is just as well as the recipe makes mountains of the stuff, fine for Christmas with lots of vegetarian visitors though!

Yummy Mushroom Pate
Serves 8
500g mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp butter,
1 bunch spring onions, chopped
250g cream cheese
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 tsp brandy (optional)
4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp mushroom ketchup

Melt the butter in a large frying pan.  Add the mushrooms and onions and cook gently with the lid off for about 10 minutes until soft.  Allow to cool.

Meanwhile put the cheese and parsley in a food processor and combine.  Add the mushroom mixture and all the remaining ingredients and pulse until the texture is fine but not completely smooth.  Put the mixture into serving dishes and chill for at least 2 hours.  Serve with toast or crackers or add to a baked potato for a tasty supper.
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