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01588 676060     info@shropshirehillsdiscoverycentre.co.uk

For those of you thinking of taking one of our cooking courses, we'd like to introduce you to your cookery trainer. Milly Rees moved to Shropshire in 1997 and runs workshops and demonstrations, caters, and cooks in our Cafe if we need a helping hand. Each Tuesday she will provide a recipe, cooking tip or introduce an ingredient which will hopefully fire your enthusiasm for cooking. Look within this section of our website for courses that you can take with her.

Here is a fresh and healthy meal for Spring.

Turkey and lemongrass meatballs

Serves 4

500g turkey mince
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 lemon grass stems, outer leaves removed and central section finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce plus extra for serving.
½ tbsp runny honey
3 tbsp semolina
1 egg

Oil for frying

Juice of an orange plus a little water

Method

If you have a food  processor then just blitz everything a couple of time. Otherwise, just make sure everything is finely chopped and thoroughly mixed.

Heat oven to 160 degrees and put a dish in to warm.

With wet hands form the turkey mixture into walnut size balls and chill for half an hour or until needed.

Shallow fry in small batches and keep warm in the oven until all the turkey balls are ready. 

Deglaze the pan with the orange juice and water and a good dash of soy sauce and tip this over the meatballs. Serve with rice or noodles and wilted greens.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Shropshire asparagus is just breaking through now so here is a refreshing, post-chocolate salad for after Easter.

Asparagus salad with hazelnut and orange

Serves 6 

Can be a side salad or starter

2 handfuls of fine asparagus spears, 2 handfuls of mange tout, 2 handfuls of samphire or fine beans, a small bunch of tarragon
2 handfuls of baby new potatoes (optional)
70g unskinned hazelnuts
1 orange
Small handful of chives
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp nut oil
1tsp French mustard
Salt and pepper

Method

Toast the hazelnuts and rub off the skins.

Boil the baby new potatoes with mint if using. Drain and cool.

Blanch the vegetables. Nb the mange tout only takes a minute. Refresh and drain.

Chop the nuts and zest the orange. Mix the dressing in a large bowl with the orange juice and mix in with the veg, potatoes and tarragon. Taste and season.  Quickly fry the croutons in a little olive oil and sprinkle on and serve.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Another delicious recipe from Milly's Better Baking course.

Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins

Makes about 6 large muffins

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
140g caster sugar
75ml sunflower oil
1 tbsp Greek yogurt
2 large eggs
1tbl poppy seeds
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the glaze
Juice from 2 lemons
100g icing sugar

Heat the oven to 180 degrees and place 6 paper cases into a muffin tray.

Using a whisk, beat the zest with the sugar, oil, yogurt and eggs until pale and thickish. Stir in the juice and poppy seeds. Sift in the flour and raising agents fold sparingly until barely combined.

Spoon into the cases and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Mix together the glaze and spoon over the muffins while still hot.

Let the muffins cool completely before eating.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

A rich creamy treat with which to impress.

Creme Brulee

The pots are made on day one and topped on the second day.

300ml double cream
60ml whole milk
1 heaped tblsp caster sugar
1 vanilla pod or 1 capful of essence
4 large egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. You will need 4 or 5 ramekins and some extra caster sugar for the topping.

Warm the cream with the split vanilla pod until scalded but not boiling.

Meanwhile, whisk the sugar with yolks until pale and frothy.

Tip the hot cream on to the yolks and mix well.

Put the bowl in a pan of simmering water and stir continuously with a rubber spatula until the custard mixture begins to thicken. Scoop out the pod.  If you are using essence, add it now.

Pour into ramekins and put these into a dish. Surround with enough near-boiling water to come half way up the pots and put into the middle of  oven for 10 minutes. The mixture will still wobble but will have formed a skin.

Leave to cool and put in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the grill to top setting. Sieve a thin layer of caster sugar over the top and put under the grill to caramelise. Keep a close eye on things and turn the pots if necessary.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Now here's a creative challenge for you - rough puff pastry which has so many delicious uses eg sausage rolls, tops for pies, apple turnovers etc.

Rough Puff Pastry

250g plain flour
250g butter or a mix of butter and vegetable shortening (chilled)
Good pinch of salt
Cold water and juice of half a lemon

Put the flour in a large bowl.

Put aside a generous1/3 of the fat then using a cheese grater, grate the rest of the fat onto the flour. Use a blunt knife to cut the fat in but don’t overdo it. You need to see lumps!

Add the lemon juice and enough water to bind it.

Roll out and use grater to grate ½ the remaining fat onto the top 2/3 of the rectangle then fold the dough to capture layers of fat.

Turn and roll out and grate on the rest of the fat. Turn and roll again. Wrap and put in fridge. When you want to use it roll out, fold and turn once more.

Click here to download the recipe. 

 

Hot Cross Buns

Makes 12

450g strong white flour                                               270ml milk
7 g sachet of fast action yeast                                   60g brown sugar
175g mixed dried fruit and peel                                   60g butter (softened)
1/2 tsp salt                                                               2tsp mixed spice
2 eggs

Use 2tbsp milk and 2 tbsp sugar for the glaze. A paste can be made for crosses by mixing 3 tblsp flour with a little butter and water.

Method

1 Warm the milk to about body temperature.

2 Mix the flour in a bowl with the salt, yeast, sugar and spices.

3 Add the softened butter, eggs and milk and mix to a soft dough.

4 Add the fruit and mix well before covering with a cloth and leaving to settle for 10 minutes. Then scoop it out of the bowl and knead on a floury surface for 5 minutes. Clean and lightly oil the bowl. Form the dough into a ball. Return to the bowl and leave covered in a warm place for an hour.

5 Knock back the dough and form into balls. Place on a greased tray so that they are nearly touching. Leave for 40 minutes. Turn on the oven after half an hour. Mix the paste for the crosses.

6 When risen, use a skewer or knife to indent the shape of a cross and lay the paste into the indents.

7 Bake at 200 degrees for 15-20minutes. Just before the buns are cooked, boil up the glaze to make a syrup and brush over the buns twice.

Click here to download this recipe.


Olive Oil and Potato Focaccia

Don’t be alarmed to read that this very soft bread dough stays in the bowl, is stretched more than kneaded and has a grated potato in it. The result is moist and chewy with an open texture. Timings are a rough guide as you can make them fit around what you are doing at home

350g strong flour                                             275 ml warm water
1 tsp fine sea salt                                           Coarse sea sale
1 tsp easy blend yeast                                    Olive Oil
1 medium potato, peeled                                 Fresh rosemary or thyme

Method
Scald a large bowl with boiling water and add flour, salt and yeast.

Grate in the potato and mix. Pour in the water until you have a very soft dough. Cover and leave for 10 mins.

Pour some olive oil over the dough and some on your hands.  Now while rotating the bowl lift the dough up 8 times to stretch it with your oily hand. Leave for half an hour or so (longer doesn’t matter, just make it fit in with your day) and repeat the stretching again. Do twice more over the next hour then leave covered for 30 mins.

Turn out on to an oiled surface and stretch it into a rough rectangle and fold it over like a business letter, then stretch it to form a rough rectangle again.

Place it in a well oiled rectangular baking tray and squash it down with your fingers and push little bits of rosemary into the dough. Leave for thirty mins in a warm place or for hours in the fridge.

 When ready to bake top with more oil, push the dimples where the rosemary (or thyme) has been place and sprinkle with salt crystals .

Bake for 20 mins at 220 degrees then turn down heat to 200 degrees for a further 10 mins

Click here to download this recipe.

 

One of the things that come with the spring is lovely pink rhubard.

Rhubarb, cardamom and ginger parfait

You will only need 500g rhubarb for the parfait but do make extra and put it on your pancakes or yogurt.

For the rhubarb compote

800g trimmed rhubarb
1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped
250g caster sugar

Put everything in an oven proof dish and cover loosely with foil. Bake at 180 degrees for about half an hour or until just nicely soft and juicy. Allow to cool completely and chill ready to use in the parfait.

To make the parfait

110ml milk
200ml double cream
4 cardamom pods
6 egg yolks

120g sugar
3 egg whites
½ tsp vinegar or lemon juice

Heat the milk, cream and cardamom pods together until scalded but not boiling. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes.

Beat the yolks with 60g of the sugar until creamy. Add the creamy milk to the eggs and stir well. Return to the pan and gently reheat until it begins to thicken. Be very careful not to let it get too hot. It should not be allowed to boil or you will find you have scrambled the eggs.

Strain through a sieve and let the custard cool in a bowl.  Transfer to the fridge as soon as possible to chill it well.

When the custard is really cold, whisk the egg whites with the vinegar until stiff. Add the rest of the sugar and whisk again.

Click here to download the recipe. 

 

Something tangy for a 'Cooking Tuesday'.

Pickled lemons

This is a favourite ingredient of many North African and Middle Eastern dishes. I like to make a batch at this time of year while lemons are cheap and the pickle will be ready to kick start Spring dishes and salads.  After it has been stored for a month, rinse the lemon wedges as needed and scrape off the pulp so that only the rind is used. A little goes a long way as the flavour is good and punchy.

Sterilise a bottling jar and tip a little salt into the base. Partly quarter as many lemons as you think you can fit into the jar but don’t cut them all the way through. They should look a little like tulips. Cram salt into the middle of each lemon (about 1 ½ tsp each) and squash into the jar, packing them down.

Cut two batons from wooden skewers or orange sticks and make a cross that just fits under the neck of the jar. This is a bit of a fiddle but it keeps the fruit submerged. Fill the jar with lemon juice or cold brine, made by dissolving 30g of salt in 300ml of boiling water then left to cool.

Fill the jar and close the lid. Once opened, store in the fridge. Seems to keep for months.

Click here to download this recipe.
 

Do something creative and enjoyable with your children this half-term and make Butter in a Jar.

Fill a sterile  jar half full with room temperature double cream.

Put the lid on tight.

Start to shake. First the cream will cover the sides of the jar; in a little while you will no longer be able to feel or hear the liquid sloshing in the jar, keep shaking. Finally after about 5 miutes you will feel the ‘thunk’ of the butter hitting the sides of the jar and the sides of the jar will clear.

Keep the buttermilk  for baking you are now going to pour off and then spoon out the butter. Rinse your butter under cold water, knead it a little as you rinse it.   This will remove the last of the buttermilk and will prevent your butter from going rancid quickly.

Your butter is ready, enjoy!

Click here to download this recipe.

 

This recipe fits the bill for Valentines Day and gluten free cookery. 
Feel the love...

Gluten Free Chocolate Muffins

These muffins are full of loveliness whether you use a heart shaped case or not – which is an important message I think!

Makes 8

50g cornflour
3 tablespoons g/f cocoa
100g dark brown sugar
225ml water
125g  dark chocolate
75g butter
75ml sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
125g caster sugar
125g rice flour plus 1tsp g/f baking powder (or g/f self raising flour)

Heat oven to 180 degrees

Place the cornflour, cocoa, brown sugar and water in a saucepan and whisk over a medium heat until boiling.

Remove from heat and beat in the butter and chocolate until smooth. Add the oil, vanilla and one of the eggs. Beat again. Add the other egg with the caster sugar. Beat again then sift in the flour. Combine thoroughly.

Spoon or pour the mixture into muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Click here to download this recipe.


Chicken Chasseur

This is such a classic dish and straightforward to produce. But the success of it depends on how well you have softened your onions and reduced the liquid. The tarragon makes it special so accept no substitutes!

6 skin-on chicken thighs (or use breast fillets)
200g mushrooms
1 onion
100ml white wine
350ml stock
2 tomatoes
Small bunch tarragon
Oil/butter for frying
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 100 degrees

Saute the chicken pieces until golden. Place on a dish. Cover and place in the oven until needed.

Peel and finely dice the onion and slice the mushrooms.

Sweat the onion until soft then add the mushrooms. Cook gently for a few minutes.

Add the wine and then the stock. Reduce by half.

Meanwhile blanche, skin and deseed the tomatoes. Chop them then add to the onions. Add the tarragon leaves.

Check for seasoning. Remove the chicken from the oven and serve with the sauce.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

I found this recipe in a newspaper cutting and have fallen in love with the sweet spice mix. I make double quantities so I have plenty for other baking days and it has found its way into cookies, custards tarts and eggnogs! Of course you could just use bought mixed spice but it misses the cardamom I think

Figgy Loaf with sweet spice

For the spice mix

10 cardamom pods                                             1 tsp coriander seeds
8 cloves                                                            3 tsp ground ginger
½ nutmeg                                                          4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fennel seeds

For the loaf

120ml milk                                                          4 tsp sweet spice or bought mixed spice
120g honey                                                         ½ tsp salt
50g butter                                                           80g walnuts, chopped
80g caster sugar                                                 80g chopped figs
80g Muscovado sugar                                         80g candied peel         
250g spelt flour                                                   Zest of half an orange
1 tsp baking powder                                             2 eggs, beaten
Demerara sugar for sprinkling

To make the sweet spice, put the whole spices into a dry frying pan and gently toast before grinding to a powder. When cool, add the other ground spices and store in an air tight container.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Line a loaf tin.

Warm the milk, honey, sugars and butter in a large pan until the sugars are dissolved.

Remove from the heat and stir in the flour and baking powder. Add 4 tsp of the spice mix and salt.

Add the candied peel, walnuts, figs and orange zest. Add the egg and pour the batter into the loaf tin.

Sprinkle with Demerara sugar and bake for about an hour, turning half way through to bake evenly.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin. Serve it sliced thickly with butter or toast thick slices and eat it with butter and marmalade. (look one recipe down for the marmalade recipe!)

Click here to download this recipe.


Assuming you have the spices to hand, seafood and fish curries are so much quicker to make than meat versions. Although I do love rice, if you just wilt some spinach in less than a minute in the microwave or in a pan you get a carb-free, super healthy dish on your plate in less than 15 minutes. Feel free to add some prawns!

Fish Curry

1 fresh green chilli                                1 tin of cherry tomatoes (or use fresh)
1 thumb size piece of ginger, peeled      1/2 tine full fat coconut milk
1 onion                                                1/2 tsp sea salt
Vegetable or coconut oil                       400g firm, white fish, no skin
2 tsp mustard seeds                            1 heaped tbslp tamarind paste
1 tsp fenugreek seeds                         1 bag baby spinach
1 tsp chilli powder                               Coriander leaves
1 tsp turmeric

Deseed and slice the chilli. Finely chop or grate the ginger. Finely chop the onion.

Heat a good glug of oil and drop in the mustard seeds. When you can hear them pop, add the fenugreek, chilli and ginger.

Fry for a minute and then add the onion. Stir and fry for 5 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the chilli and turmeric and then the tomatoes.

Bring back to simmering before pouring in the coconut milk. (the leftover coconut milk will freeze for another time)

Bring the sauce back to heat before adding the fish, tamarind and sea salt.  Simmer for 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Either stir in the spinach or cook this separately to make a bed for the curry.

When the fish is cooked, serve with a sprinkling of coriander leaves.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Back by popular demand, Milly's whole orange marmalade

Whole Orange Marmalade

Personal tastes dictate which recipe you end up using year after year. I  am a bit of a Goldilocks about it all as I like my shred not too chunky but not too fine. I want the jelly not too dark but not too light and I want it not too firm but not too runny.

Whatever recipe you use, I would say the most important aspect is getting the shred really soft in the first place. Tough or rubbery shred is very disappointing. Also, do not think you can get away with less sugar than your recipe suggests. You can’t! And I speak as one who has tried in the past and regretted it.

I like to boil the oranges whole rather than cut them up first. If you haven’t got quite enough Seville oranges there is no harm in making up the weight with sweet oranges, lemons or grapefruit.

NB Seville oranges freeze so if you see bargain bags do snap them up for later.

You ideally need a preserving pan but don’t despair.  Better to use two pans than try to cram it all in your biggest pan. Or do it in two batches.

3 ¼ litres water

3 kg sugar

1 ½ kg Seville oranges

Sterilised jars (I run them through the dishwasher and warm them in the oven)

 

Simmer the whole oranges in water for at least 1 ½ hours until the skin is really tender. Remove and keep oranges in a bowl until cool enough to cut into quarters. The water you boiled them in should stay in the pan. A slow cooker or alternatively a pressure cooker will do the job with different timings of course.

Scrape the mush and pips from the inside of the oranges into muslin or a jelly bag and put into the water along with any liquid that might be in the bowl.

Cut up the peel as you like it and add to the pan. Put a plate in the fridge to use as a setting test. Warm your clean jars in an oven set to 100 degrees. Turn off oven as they need to be warm but not scalding when you fill them.

It’s a good idea to warm the sugar in a microwave or low oven before adding to the pan. Stir until dissolved then turn up heat and boil the marmalade until a drop of the liquid sets enough to form a skin when you push it on the cold plate. This process can take from ½ an hour to an hour depending on the size of your pan. Keep pushing the juices out of the muslin from time to time to help it set.

When your marmalade has reached a setting point, let it stand for 15 minutes to avoid the shred rising to the top of the jars. Carefully fill your jars and seal tightly with the lids. I never bother with cellophane.

Click here to download this recipe

 

Noodle Salad

This is a crunchy, light but filling way to get a dose of vitamins into you at this time of year. Make plenty so that you can use it for packed lunches and double up the dressing ingredients so that you have some to keep in the fridge.

Serves 4

100g nuts eg hazelnuts and cashews            200g fine egg noodles
150g fine beans/sugarsnaps, cut in half         Small head of broccoli, broken into florets
A packet of mini sweetcorn, chopped            6 spring onions
Small bunch of coriander and some mint if you can find it

Dressing

2 tbsp white wine or rice vinegar                    1 tblsp tahini
Grated zest and juice of a lime                      1 mild red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed                                  1 tsp honey or brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil                                           2 tblsp soy sauce
A splash of water

Put all the ingredients for the dressing into a screw topped jar and shake till mixed.

Toast the nuts in a dry frying pan if they are not already roasted.

Blanch the beans for 3  minutes in a large pan pf boiling salted water then add the sugarsnaps, sweetcorn and broccoli and cook on for another 2 minutes.

Drain the veg and refresh with lots of cold water. Drain thoroughly so that it is as dry as possible.

Cook the noodles according to the instructions, refresh and drain.

Cut the spring onions on the diagonal. Put all the salad ingredients into a large bowl with the nuts and dressing. Add the mint and coriander and mix well.

Note you could add some smoked tofu, shredded chicken or cooked fish to this to ring the changes.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Just to prove going gluten free doesn’t mean baking has to be joyless, try these! The only fiddly bit is spreading the mixture as thinly as you can but still so the pieces of almond touch. Thanks to Yotam for the recipe.

Almond Wafers

2 egg whites

100g icing sugar

250g flaked almonds

Grated zest of an orange
 

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Line a couple of baking trays with non-stick parchment and brush lightly with vegetable oil.

Put the egg whites into a bowl and beat with a fork until loose but not frothy. Mix in the icing sugar, almonds and grated zest.

Using a fork, scoop up little mounds of the mixture and place on the tray with plenty of space around each one. Dip the fork into a bowl of water and use the back of it to flatten the almonds as much as possible to make rough disc shapes.

Bake in batches for about 12 minutes each batch but keep an eye on them. They should be golden and crisp on the base. When cool, store in an airtight tin.

I like to serve these with ice cream or pannacotta but they also make great little biscuits to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee after a meal.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

During the holidays, something that the family can make together.

Golden Flapjacks

Makes 16

300g unsalted butter, plus extra to grease
75g demerara or brown) sugar
120g golden syrup (6 tablespoons)
200g jumbo rolled oats
200g quick-cook oats
50g crunchy nut cornflakes

1. Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F / gas 5 (150C / 300F / gas 2 if you prefer them chewy rather than crispy). Line a 30 x 20cm baking tin with baking parchment, cutting slits in each corner so it fits more neatly.

2. Melt the butter in a small pan with the sugar, syrup and a pinch of salt. Stir well to combine, then take off the heat and stir in the oats and cornflakes. Press evenly into the tin and bake for 25 minutes for chewy, 30 minutes for crunchy, until set and golden. Allow to cool completely in the tin, but cut into squares a few minutes after they come out of the oven, before they harden.

Click here to download the recipe.

 

Here, from Milly Rees, is an interesting twist to a classic Christmas recipe. May this become part of a happy Christmas and prehaps a new family tradition.

Rocky road Yule Log

This is a rough guide. Like all good Christmas recipes it likes to please so feel free to tweak!

2 large bars of dark chocolate (or 1 dark and 1 milk)

100g butter

2 tbsp golden syrup

1 cup toasted hazelnuts

1 cup mini marshmallows

4 chunks of stem ginger, roughly chopped

200g glace cherries

300g ginger biscuits, bashed into pieces

Icing sugar

Melt the chocolate with the butter and syrup in a microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.

Stir in the other ingredients and tip out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. Form into a log shape and roll up in the paper.

Wrap tightly in cling film or foil and chill overnight.

Unwrap and dust with icing sugar.

Click here to download a copy of this recipe.

 

Here is part of what we made on Saturday during our family activity 'Christmas Truffles and Sweet Treats'. Could be for sharing or for a treat with a cup of coffee when your energy is flagging!

Popcorn Boulders

150g popping corn
150g roasted cashews, roughly chopped
250g caster sugar
25g muscovado sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tblsp condensed milk
25g butter
75ml water
Large pinch of salt

Butter 2 mini muffin trays

Pop the corn in batched in a pan or microwave. Put into a large bowl being careful to remove any un popped corn. Mix in the cashews.

Put everything else into a pan and stir over a low heat to start to melt the sugar. Bring to the boil and boil until thick and caramel like. Stir into the corn. Do this as quickly as poss.

With two spoons, pile the mixture into the tins and press down. Leave to cool.

Note (if you find you have undercooked the caramel then you can crisp it up by putting the tray into a hot oven for a few minutes until brown – be careful not to burn it)

Click here to download the recipe.

 

We made the patties at the autumn veg session and they might well crop up again...... These make great starters or with drinks and the sauces are good with so many things.

Beetroot Patties with tahini and sweet chilli sauce

200g roasted beetroot                                  1 tblsp tahini
100g chick peas                                          2 spring onions                                        
handful chopped mixed herbs                       1 egg beaten
      (mint, parsley, coriander)                        ½ grated lemon zest
½ tsp ground cumin                                     salt and pepper

Finely chop all the ingredients and mould into patties with wet hands

Fry in shallow oil until golden brown and serve with natural yogurt or maybe these sauces.

Sweet chilli dipping sauce – So easy and great with pretty much anything.

Use a blender to blend 150ml white wine vinegar, 3 red chillies,(deseeded), 2 cloves of garlic, 120g caster sugar and ½ teaspoon of salt. Transfer to a saucepan  and bring to the boil. Simmer for a minute then add a dash of Thai Fish Sauce. Store in a jar for up to a week in the fridge.

Clementine and Tahini Sauce – Nicely Christmassy and full of flavour

125g light tahini
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
Grated zest of a Clementine
80ml Clementine juice
1 tsp grated ginger
½ red chilli, finely chopped

Blend everything with a little water until the sauce is smooth. Store in the fridge for up to a week.

Click here to download this recipe.

This is a great starter but you could certainly bulk it out a bit for a main course at lunchtime, particularly as pigeon breasts are often sold in packs of 8 or 10.

Warm salad with breast of pigeon, pancetta and Pear

This is a great starter but you could certainly bulk it out a bit for a main course at lunchtime, particularly as pigeon breasts are often sold in packs of 8 or 10.

Serves 6

6 pigeon breasts (Take them out of the packet for ½ an hour before frying)
1 packet of diced pancetta or some rashers of chopped streaky bacon
Big handful of walnut halves
2 ripe pears
2 tbslp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsl honey
Juice from an orange or a couple of clementines
1large bulb of fennel, very finely sliced
Some salad leaves (I like some middle leaves from a round lettuce plus baby leaves)
Salt and pepper
A little olive oil/butter
1 Pomegranate (optional)

First assemble your salad leaves and fennel onto plates or a big platter.

Then put a little oil into a frying pan and fry the pancetta and walnuts until nicely golden and toasted.

Scoop out but leave as much fat as possible.  Slice up the pears and fry them until a little brown. Remove and put with the pancetta for later. Add a little more oil or butter to the pan to fry the pigeon breasts.

Season the pigeon breasts and fry for a couple of minutes on either side. Cover  them in foil and keep on a warm dish for 5 minutes.

Add the balsamic to the frying pan and let it bubble over a medium heat for a few seconds then add the honey and orange juice. Tip the pancetta, pear and walnuts back into the pan then share out over the salads.

Slice the pigeon breasts and drop the pieces on top. The pigeon breasts should be nicely pink in the middle.

As a final flourish I like to bejewel the salad with pomegranate seeds but if this is a step too far then that’s absolutely fine!

Click here to download this recipe.

The sharpness of the quince really cuts through the pork. I would go for shoulder if you can get it nicely rolled or a slab of belly. The cooking time is a guide as I think this dish gets better the longer you bake it. It could sit happily in the oven for 3 hours if you need it to. It also makes great left overs.

Pork with quince

For 6

2 lemons
5 cloves garlic
1.5 kg of pork (take it out of the fridge for an hour before cooking)
500ml dry cider (or water)
Salt and pepper
100g butter
1 kg quinces
Olive oil
A nutmeg
2 tblsp honey
1 tbsp light brown sugar

Heat your oven to 175 degrees. Make slits in the meat with a sharp knife. Pare the lemon rind into long strips and poke it into the pork. Peel and slice the garlic down the middle and push this into the pork as well. Squeeze over the juice and season well with salt and pepper.

Sit the pork into a casserole dish or deep roasting dish with the cider. Peel and quarter the quince (you will need a hefty knife for this). Put into a bowl with the honey and sugar and give it a really good dose of nutmeg.

Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 2 hours. Remove the lid or foil and bake on for another 30 minutes or until the skin is well browned and the meat falls apart easily.

Scoop out the meat and quinces and keep warm while you boil up the juices to reduce by half. Skim off the oil and serve with the pork.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

When I was a child I loved butterscotch Angel Delight. Now I am grown up I make a more grown up version. You can make them well in advance so they are great dinner party puds. This makes six little pots

Butterscotch puddings

4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
½ tsp sea salt
150g soft dark brown sugar
300ml double cream
2 tbsp cornflour
300ml whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk the cornstarch with the salt in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth.

Whisk in the egg yolks and set the bowl aside.

To make the butterscotch, melt the butter in a deep pan set over medium-high heat. When it has melted completely, whisk in the sugar.

Keep whisking until it is a rich dark brown or until you can smell the caramel. Take off the heat and slowly whisk in the cream. Be very careful as you do this; the cream and sugar will steam up violently. Continue to stir over a low heat.

Add half of the hot butterscotch liquid to the bowl with the eggs and milk and whisk.

Return it all to the pan and cook gently until it comes to a boil, stirring all the time. Boil for 2 minutes or until it has thickened. Whisk in the vanilla.

Strain into little dishes. Cover with cling film and chill for at least 3 hours. The puddings will keep for up to 3 days and will also freeze.

I like to serve this with a dollop of crème fraiche and a little sprinkling of sea salt. A swirl of chocolate sauce made by melting some chocolate in the microwave with a little golden syrup and cream is good too. Or maybe maple syrup?

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Although I love a good steak and ale casserole, comforting November stews don’t need to be brown and meat filled. This one is full of colour, vitamin C and the beans making it extra nourishing. It is also great cold the next day  tapas style with salty cheese or some cured meats and spicy sausage.

Caponata

2 large aubergines                                                 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Olive oil                                                                1 tbsp. brown sugar

1 large red onion, halved and sliced                         1 tsp cocoa

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped                                 Salt and Pepper

2 tins plum tomatoes (or 8 skinned and
chopped fresh ripe toms)

1 tin of cannellini beans, drained                              To serve—small bunch of parsley, chopped

Small bunch of basil                                               A little fresh mint, chopped

2 tbsp. capers                                                        Crème fraiche

Cut the aubergine into chunks. Either tip the chunks on to a tray, drizzle with oil  and brown for 20 minutes on the top shelf of a hot oven or fry in batches until nicely browned.

If sautéing the aubergine,  remove to a bowl, add a little more oil to the pan and gently fry the onions until soft. Add the garlic and cook on for another minute.

Replace the aubergine and mix well with the onions. Tear up the basil and add this and all the other casserole ingredients and simmer everything over a low heat for 40 minutes. Check to make sure it doesn’t dry out too much.  (I like to swill out the tomato tins with a little water and put this in too.)  Season well with salt and black pepper.

You could cook it in the oven instead in a lidded casserole dish.

When ready to serve, scatter over the parsley and mint and you might like to spoon on some crème fraiche....

Click here to download the recipe.

 

My family have a soft spot for soft crust. I think they have fond memories of bought cherry or apple pies which were often a mid-week treat in our house with custard. It’s the custard powder that does it in the pastry too! It is also quick to make because of the short chilling time.

Apple pie with a soft crust

For the pastry                                            For the filling

150g plain flour                                          6 apples – I like a mix of cooking and
25g cornflour                                                          sharp dessert
1 tbsp custard powder                             Grated zest and juice of a lemon
½ tsp baking powder                                2 tbsp water
75g icing sugar                                            3tbs caster sugar (you might need
125g quite cold butter                                          more depending on the apples)
1 large egg, beaten                                    Extra sugar for the top

Peel, core and dice the apples and cook gently with the filling ingredients just long enough to make tender but with definite chunks amongst the more fluffy cooking apple.  Transfer into a bowl and put aside in a draughty place to cool.

Put all the dry ingredients for the pastry in a bowl. Cut the butter into dice and rub in until it looks like breadcrumbs. Mix in the beaten egg and work to a soft dough. Wrap and chill for 10 minutes.

Turn on oven to 170 degrees and put in a baking sheet to heat up.

Lightly butter a 20cm pie dish and roll out 2/3 of the pastry. Line the dish so that a little is overhanging. Roll out the remaining pastry. Spoon the filling into the pastry case, cover with the pastry lid. Pinch the two together and dredge with more sugar.

Place the dish onto the hot baking sheet and bake for about 30-40 minutes.

NB If you can get hold of a quince, do grate one in to the apple filling for extra flavour and scent.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Duck with spiced plums

This is a great ‘Jamie Oliverish’ supper dish and an easy introduction to cooking duck. Oddly, I have noticed that duck legs are sometimes sold in threes! So make the most of special offers or see what your butcher has on display. It is worth making extra as left- overs shred away beautifully for a lunchtime salad or starter (warm or cold) with maybe a little orange juice and sesame oil in the dressing.

4 large duck legs or 8 smaller legs for larger appetites
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled
A thumb sized piece of ginger, sliced
1 tbsp Chinese Five spice
175ml soy sauce
Juice of one lemon
1 tbsp brown sugar or honey
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
1 punnet of plums
Fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Put everything except the plums into a bag or bowl and leave to marinade for a couple of hours or longer.

Heat the oven to 160 degrees. Tip the duck and marinade into a dish so that the legs are skin side up. Cover loosely with foil and bake for an hour. Take off the foil, halve and stone the plums push them around the duck legs and put back in the oven for another 45 minutes until the skin is well browned. If necessary turn up the oven.

Skim off the fat before serving with rice and wilted greens. Top with coriander.

Click here to download the recipe.

 

Pheasant with grapes

At one time I was involved with a medieval banquet and became very familiar with the use of verjuice as a cooking liquor. When my friend Judy gave me some home-grown green seeded grapes I whizzed them in a food processor, strained the juice and found the acidity was just what I was after. It makes a lovely sharp tasting bath for tasty little pheasants. (would work well with partridge too). There is a little butter in the recipe but the end result is low fat and low carb, particularly if you serve it as I have on a nest of sweated leeks, courgettes, chard and with a few extra grapes thrown in.

For 4 people

2 small pheasant
4 rashers of streaky bacon
A handful of shitake or field mushrooms
4 shallots or small red onions - quartered
½ pint sharp grape juice or dry cider
A little fresh thyme and parsley
Butter and olive oil
Salt and pepper

Using a casserole dish or hob-to-oven pan, first cook the bacon in a little oil before scooping it out and chopping on a board. Reserve the fat in the pan and use it to gently fry the shallots or red onions until they are softened. Saute the mushrooms and remove.

Add a little butter and oil to the pan. Season then brown the birds. Remove. Deglaze the pan with the grape juice then put everything back in to the pan. Add the herbs.

Put on a lid and very gently simmer for an hour. Lift out the birds and while you are jointing them simmer the juices to reduce and strengthen the flavour. Test for seasoning. Spoon over the mushrooms, shallots and bacon.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Here is a sweet, nutty treat for pudding or tea time. Squirrel Nutkin's favourite...

Autumn Nut Tart

If you like coconut and you agree with me that toasted hazelnuts are completely delicious then you will love this tart. It is not overly sticky and sweet so do feel free to serve it with something on the side. I think sour cream is good with it but vanilla ice cream would be lovely if you serve the tart just warm. You could make them in cup-cake tins and have them at tea time.

Pastry                                                                

150g plain flour
1 heaped tbsp caster sugar
100g butter at room temperature
2 tbsp iced water
Pinch of salt  

Filling

150g whole hazelnuts
150g butter (I use slightly salted)
150g desiccated coconut
150g currants (or mixed vine fruit- if so you might process for a few seconds or chop finely)
1 tbsp runny honey
1 good tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Make the pastry by putting the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour and rub in till it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the water and gather into a flattish ball and chill in the fridge.

Put your hazelnuts on to a baking tray and toast for 12 minutes. Use oven gloves to rub of the skins and gently blow the skins away. Chop about half of the nuts and leave the rest whole.

Put the tray back in the oven so that it is hot when you put your flan tin on it.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and add all the other filling ingredients along with the nuts. Stir well.

 Roll out the pastry and line a 25cm flan tin. Spread the filling onto the case and put back on the hot tray and bake for 25 minutes.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Here is another recipe from Milly Rees' Food Festival demonstration, wish you hadn't missed that? Join us on 13 October For Milly's Autumn Vegetarian Workshop.

Blackberries with geranium cream   

The leaves of rose geranium are used here to infuse the cream. If you would like to try using other leaves then thyme, rosemary and basil are all good.

Gently heat a small carton of double cream with a few leaves of rose geranium, 2 tablespoons of sugar and a few drops of vanilla. The cream should get hot but not boil. A microwave is fine for this. Allow it to cool with the leaves still in the cream. Chill in the fridge until cold.

Put  2 cups of blackberries into a saucepan (or use a microwave) with a little sugar and heat gently with a lid on until the blackberries have released their juices a bit. Taste for sweetness

When the cream is cold, hook out the leaves, whip it and serve with the blackberries and maybe some shortbread biscuits or other buttery biscuits.

You could turn this into a flan by making a crushed biscuit and butter base and go one step further by adding some mascarpone to the cream but make sure you use enough geranium leaves to get the flavour.

If you have a rose geranium plant then use it to add a hint of Turkish Delight to your baking too by putting some leaves in the base of a cake tin before spooning in sponge mixture or let it flavour custards and creams

Click here to download the recipe.

Roast Pepper Dip

This is a delicious way of using sweet peppers and you can make it as fiery or mild as you like. You could make it more substantial by adding chick peas or white beans but remember that this will dilute the flavours. Enjoy as a starter with plenty of pitta or think of it as a glorious relish to spice up pretty much anything. Goes very well with fried eggs!

4 large red peppers or a bag of mixed small peppers.
250ml olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
75g walnuts, toasted or dry fried for a few minutes
75g breadcrumbs or crumbled bread without the crusts
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp honey
1 tsp finely chopped red chilli (or less)
Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Cut large peppers in half and remove the ribs and seed or leave smaller ones whole. Coat with a little of the oil. Bake until blackened and remove as much skin as possible.

Put everything in a food processor while the peppers are still warm and blitz until smooth. Taste and season.

Serve straight away or store in the fridge but it’s much better if you can take it out of the fridge to un-chill before eating.

Click here to download the recipe.

 

 Here is one of the recipes from my demo at the food festival which I promised I would share. September has a  storage jar/harvest feel.....

Sweet Cucumber Pickle

Makes 4-5 jars ( I have kept the measurements old style because it makes it simple)

Once you try it, you will find it goes with almost everything. I like to use eat it with baked fish, I spoon it on to salads and avocado toast and of course it is great with cheese and pate.

3 large cucumbers, sliced
3 large onions, sliced
A handful of salt
1 pint vinegar
1lb brown sugar
½ tsp turmeric
5 cloves
1 tbsp mustard seed.

Layer the cucumbers with the onions and salt into a colander, weight it down and leave to drain for 2 hours.

Squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Put everything else in a large pan and heat slowly, stirring to get the sugar to dissolve.

Add the drained cucumbers and onions and boil for 1 minute only.

Remove from the heat and use a slotted spoon to put the cucumbers and onions into jars.

Next boil the spicy vinegar for 15 minutes before pouring it over the vegetables. Leave for a week before eating if you can!

Click here to download this recipe

 

This relish is a sweet and sticky relish which is a great way to make use of all shapes and sizes of home-grown tomatoes. Add a dollop to a cheese sandwich or ham sandwich.

Tomato Relish

1.5 litres tomatoes
2 star anise
3 cardamom pods
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp juniper berries
1 tsp peppercorns
3 cloves
1 orange
1 lemon
1 tsp salt
300g sugar

Halve the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds. Roughly chop and put into a large, heavy based pan.

Dry-fry the spices and grind with a pestle and mortar or electric grinder. Add to tomatoes.

Grate the lemon and orange onto the tomatoes and squeeze in the juice. Add salt and sugar and heat slowly till the sugar is dissolved.

Simmer for 30 minutes until the mixture has thickened and darkened and has reached the consistency of soft jam. Put into warm, sterilised jars. Keep in a cool dark place and use within 2 months. Refrigerate after opening.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

From this Sunday's Pastry and Tarts workshop.

September Berry Tarts

For the pastry

330g plain flour
100 g caster sugar
180 g butter, in cubes
1 tsp vanilla extract    
2 egg yolks
Pinch of salt

Rub together all the dry ingredients. Add the wet and pull together into a ball. You might need to add a tiny amount of cold water. Flatten into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill.

Creme Patissiere

580ml milk
4 egg yolks
110 g caster sugar
40g cornflour
40g flour
Vanilla essence

Method

1 Scald the milk.
2 cream the yolks with the sugar and mix in the flours. Pour on the milk and mix well.
3 Return to the pan and bring slowly to the boil. Allow to cool slightly and add the vanilla.
Method bring everything to a boil and strain before use.

A selection of berries and maybe some almonds or pistachios.

To make the tarts

Bake tartlets blind using greaseproof paper and baking beans for 8 mins.  Remove paper and bake for a further 2 mins.
When cool spoon or pipe in a layer of crème patissiere. Arrange fruit on the custard. Sprinkle a few toasted almonds or crushed pistachios/ icing sugar on the top and serve.

Click here to download this recipe

Here is a recipe to get you in the mood for Thursday's Biscuit and Cookies Workshop.

Jammy Hearts

225g plain flour
60g potato flour or cornflour
100g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or half a seed pod
200g butter cut into small pieces
1 beaten egg
100ml raspberry jam

Mix the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Add the vanilla, butter and half the beaten egg. Rub together until it forms a bowl and chill for up to an hour.

Heat the oven to 200C. Place the dough between sheets of baking paper and roll out until 1 cm thick. Peel off the top layer and cut out shapes with a 5cm cutter. Cut out smaller shapes from half of these to fill with jam.

Paint egg on the backs of the shapes with holes and lay these on top of the whole shapes. Press down gently, brush with remaining egg and fill spaces with jam.

Put on lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 mins then cool on a wire rack.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

This Cooking Tuesday we go outside for our recipe and present you with Campfire Calzone cooked last week during our Forest School.

Campfire Calzone

Ingredients
For the base
              300g strong bread flour
              1 tsp instant yeast (from a sachet or a tub)
              1 tsp salt
              1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
For  the topping
              Passata
              Cheese of your choice
              Oregano or basil
 

1. Make the base: Put the flour into a large bowl, then stir in the yeast and s


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