I can clearly remember the first time my brain registered the juiciness of a nectarine and its heavenly scent. It was summer and unusually hot. I was about 3 or 4 years old and me and my mother, the lady next door and her son Sam who had the same age, had walked quite a distance to a park where we could play. After we had played a while, Sam and I were each given an unusually large nectarine – mostly because our hands were very small. They came out of a brown paper bag, and I can still recall the sound of the bag, and the scent that came next when it was presented to me to pick my fruit. I remember that I smelled the skin of the fruit, looked at it, turned it around and was then handed a piece of white kitchen paper to catch the juice that was about to drip from my chin and hands. I investigated the skin between my fingers, the texture of the fruit. I recall the bitterness of the magenta red stone as I was trying to get the last of the flesh from it….
While I am wondering where summer is hiding, and rain is dripping down on my evergreen garden, it feels like the perfect time to start baking scones for tea. How else will you lock out the dreariness that comes with the looming end of joyeus long days, summer dresses and dainty shoes. There has to be tea, and something to go with it.
I haven’t been a pious Christian since I was 6, Lent only means one thing to me, I will have a birthday soon. Easter wasn’t something I particularly looked forward to, and I was surprisingly unimpressed with the overly sweet milk chocolate eggs the easter bunny brought me. Nor did I enjoy the big family gatherings as they always resulted into political debates, and dispute. It is most certainly the reason for my aversion to politics and politicians.
A Ceremonie in Glocester.I’le to thee a Simnell bring,Gainst thou go’st a mothering,So that, when she blesseth thee,Half that blessing thou’lt give me.
At some time along the way of time the legend of Simon and Nell appeared. A story most people have heard from their grandparents.
|The Book of Days|
The Simnel cake today is a fruit cake that is slightly lighter than a Christmas tide fruitcake. It is covered in marzipan these days instead of a tough white crust and a layer of marzipan is baked into the middle of the cake. On top of the cake are placed 11 balls to represent the true apostles, leaving off Judas Iscariot the traitor. When exactly the 11 balls came into practice isn’t clear but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the Victorians
My Simnel cake omits the spices and only holds candied peel and dried fruits which give the cake a very sweet taste.
What do you need
- 300 g mixed fruit (currants, sultanas, raisins)
- 100 ml sherry
- 250 g butter, unsalted and at room temperature
- 230 g raw cane sugar
- 4 free range eggs
- 320 g plain white flour
- pinch of salt
- 40 g candied lemon peel, chopped
- about 750 g of marzipan
- orange marmalade, a few spoonfuls
- optional: 1 egg to egg wash the top
The day before, soak the mixed fruit in the sherry
Preheat your oven to 160°c
Prepare a round spring form by lining it with baking parchment
Roll out 1/3 of the marzipan and use the spring form as a guide to cut out a circle of the same size.
Cream the butter and the sugar and add the eggs one at a time.
Add the flour and combine well
Now fold in the mixed fruit and candied peel
Scoop one half of the dough in the spring form and place the marzipan on top
Now scoop in the remaining dough and place in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Leave to cool in the baking tin.
Now roll out half of the remaining marzipan and cut out another round the same size as your cake. Roll 11 balls from the leftover marzipan.
If you want to cover the sides of the cake, roll out the last of the marzipan creating a long ribbon.
When the cake is cooled, turn on the oven grill at 160°c and smear on the orange marmalade on top to place your marzipan on the cake followed by the balls.
Egg wash your balls and place under the grill until the balls have a golden or brownish color.
Serve with tea, lots of it.
Not a fan of so much marzipan, this is an option too!
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I have something very exciting to share with you… my first ever video!!!
During the summer I was contacted by the guys from Grokker, a new online video network. They wanted me on board for a challenge with Loyd Grossman and because I had never really considered doing video, I thought this would be the perfect moment to get some experience in that area.
Although I was very tired after only 3 hours sleep and nervous of answering questions while trying to explain a recipe in a language other than my own without any form of rehearsal I must say I’m quite happy with how it turned out. The film crew really was a fabulous bunch of people. -Thanks guys- The video here is a trailer, the whole thing is on Grokker here > for which you have to create an account to see it – and if you do… don’t forget to click on the heart below the video to let me know you liked what I did there! 🙂 It’s a bit of a challenge with a few other fabulous blogger involved, check them out while you are there too.
A small -delicate- detail though… my name isn’t pronounced like you can hear in the video, so please don’t all start calling me ‘Regoela’ it’s more like ‘regular’ without the ‘R’ at the end and a more delicate ‘G’ like in Italian. It is Latin after all. 🙂
Anyway back to the dish, we had to choose a typical main dish of our niche that was able to be cooked in 30 min, prep to finish. So I choose Kedgeree, a recent favourite in our house.
Kedgeree is believed to find its origin in the Indian dish called Khichri and we can say it is the the first Anglo-Indian fusion food. During the British Raj, the Brits in India were craving a dish that would remind them of home.
Khichri is considered a sick person’s food in India, being less spicy and easier on the digestive system than other curries. It was perfect for the Britons who were still spice-shy back then and couldn’t take the heat of a curry like they do today.
But the British like to tweak recipes, so they added protein where as in an original Khichri there was none. The colonials added fish and eggs and embraced it as a breakfast dish. But why a breakfast dish, firstly because the Brits are used to protein rich breakfasts but also because the heat in India made it so the fish had to be eaten for breakfast in order to keep it from spoiling. This means that the original Kedgeree was made with fresh fish rather than with smoked fish.
Back in Britain the Victorians loved kedgeree and the novelty feel it had. It was perfect for the fancy breakfast table and a change from the usual.
How the smoked fish, came into the equation is another story.
It is generally believed that the arrival of kedgeree in Britain in the 18th century coincided with the introduction of a stagecoach from the Scottish village of Findon to Edinburgh and then further south. Findons’ cottage industry was the smoking of haddock and Kedgeree was the perfect way to balance the fish’s strong salty flavour with ingredients like rice and hard-boiled eggs.
Below is an explanation of Kedgeree from Colonel A. R. Kenney-Herbert, Wyvern’s Indian Cookery Book – 1869
“Kedgeree (khichri) of the English type is composed of boiled rice, chopped hard-boiled egg, cold minced fish, and a lump of fresh butter: these are all tossed together in the frying pan, flavoured with pepper, salt, and any minced garden herb such as cress, parsley, or marjoram, and served in a hot dish. The Indian khichri of fish is made like the foregoing with the addition of just enough turmeric powder to turn the rice a pale yellow colour, and instead of garden herbs the garnish is composed of thin julienne-like strips of chilli, thin slices of green ginger, crisply fried onions, etc.”
Eliza Acton uses not hard-boiled but raw eggs to create a Carbonara type of sauce and Elisabeth David adds a lot of spices and raisins. My version is something in between the recipes of these clever ladies and the gentleman above, my eggs are boiled semi runny and I only use cayenne pepper as a seasoning. The smoked haddock gives enough flavour to make this dish an excellent comfort food, or as I’m told it works wonders for a hangover!
What do you need
• 400 g smoked haddock
• 500 ml water
• 2 sjallots
• 150 g basmati rice
• 1 tsp cayenne pepper
• 3 eggs, boiled semi runny or hard boiled if you prefer – shell removed
• sea salt to taste
• a pack of butter, unsalted
• fresh parsley, chopped
Bring the water to a boil in a deep pan with a lid, ad the fish and make sure it is completely covered and simmer – not boil – for about 10 minutes or until flaky
Remove the fish from the pan – keeping the liquid aside – transfer to a warmed dish and cover
Add the rice to the pan with the cooking liquid, cover with the lid and bring back to the boil for 10 minutes and regularly stirring the rice. Keep the lid on.
Now flake the fish into bitesize pieces using a teaspoon
Remove the shells from the eggs and cut up one of the eggs and leave the other two whole
After 10 minutes, turn down the flame and leave the rice covered with the lid until needed.
Heat a generous amount of good quality butter in a large deep pan, add the finely chopped shallots and glaze while stirring
Now ad a large knob of butter and ad the cayenne pepper, the rice and the fish with a generous pinch of salt.
Stir well so the pepper colors the rice an add two eggs, cut in pieces before stirring a last time.
Get your warmed serving plate out, transfer the food to the plate and halve the last boiled egg to put on top as decoration.
Finish of with the chopped parsley
A great dish for using up leftover rice or fish, it can be made with any kind of white fish or even prawns. Serve with a side salad to ad some vegetables to the mix.
Some people like it with mango chutney but I find it too sweet.
Drink with a nice IPA beer.
|So jealous of those wheels!|
On saturday mornings I look forward to a wholesome slice of bread, spread with -when I have the time to make it- home made butter and a sprinkle of seasalt or jam that reminds me of the warmer days of the year passed.
But it has become so hard to get a decent loaf these days, I admit I’m not the easiest of customers but I think my wishes aren’t odd at all.
I want ‘real’ bread made from good quality – organic – stone ground flour, not low protein Chorleywood style loafs or other breads that have been made in a jiffy filled with additives and bread enhancers that feed food intolerance and allergies.
Many people don’t realise that when they buy this unnaturally square shaped spongy bread they get more than they bargained for. Chorleywood bread is one of these wonderful inventions of the 60’s when everything had to go fast and had to be industrialised. The ingredients don’t only list low quality wheat flour, water, salt and the double amount of yeast used for ‘real’ bread, it also contains a cocktail of hard fats, ascorbic acid, enzymes, emulsifiers and other chemicals that speed up the process.
Some scientists claim that the Chorleywood method is responsible for the growing amount of people who have trouble digesting bread, the use of potassium bromate (E924) -which is now banned in the EU but not the US- being the primary cause. Potassium bromate is carcinogenic and nephrotoxic to experimental animals, causing cell tumors to the thyroid and Renal cell carcinoma.
I apologise for the usage of these scary words but when I found out about this an researched it some more I felt I had to share it with you.
|Soda bread, oysters and a pint of stout. A fisherman’s tea.|
I don’t want to be the one screaming ‘horse meat’ but I wouldn’t be surprised if this harmful E924 would still be circulating in our food chain. After all it isn’t banned all over the world and still used widely in the US.
The Chorleywood method is used all over the world and not exclusively for the iconic square shaped loaf but also to speed up the process of regular bread.
I’ve stopped eating store-bought bread unless I know it was made traditionally.
Now I know some people might argument that baking your bread takes longer and one hasn’t the time to do this very often and I agree.
Baking this Soda bread is in my opinion a great alternative to baking your bread traditionally when in urgent need of it and no time to spare. Made with good quality organic wholemeal flour this makes a fine loaf in just 45 minutes – baking included. This is faster than hopping on my bike and driving to a store.
Soda bread is an acquired taste but I promise you it is very much a treat on busy saturday mornings when all you need is to get on with things.
In soda bread Bicarbonate of soda is used as a raising agent instead of yeast or a sourdough starter, the process is activated by the acidity in buttermilk, live yoghurt or in some traditional recipes even stout beer. Buttermilk and live yoghurt contain lactic acid, which was also used in Milk stout beer before the usage went out of fashion. The lactic acid reacts with the baking soda and forms air bubbles of carbon dioxide. The trick is to underwork your dough and get it in the oven as fast as you can to get a good rise.
Unlike the chemicals used in Chorleywood method, baking soda and lactic acid from buttermilk, yoghurt or beer, isn’t harmful to your health.
In Ireland Soda bread is often eaten with oysters, before the decline of oyster beds they used to be a cheap source of protein. The tale goes that down at the harbour pubs, fishermen used to get served soda bread and oysters along with their pint of stout. I must say it is a treat indeed, the bitter taste of the stout pairs perfectly with the salty oyster especially when fresh and still drowning in seawater. The soda bread brings a slightly sweet and sour taste to the table, along with a crumbly texture.
So now perhaps a treat only enjoyed on special occasions.
What do you need
- 500g good quality – organic wholemeal wheat or spelt flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of seasalt
- 400 ml buttermilk
- or 200ml live yoghurt and 200 ml milk
- or 200ml stout beer and 200 ml buttermilk
- Preheat your oven to 180C°
- Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper
- Combine the flour, baking soda and salt well in a bowl.
- Add the buttermilk, milk, yoghurt or stout – whatever you chose – and mix with the dry ingredients.
- Quickly form a wet dough – it is important to get the bread in the oven as quickly as possible and not to overwork it – dust it with flour and cut a cross half way down the dough.
- Put on the baking tray in the oven for 40 minutes.
Eat warm and spread with a generous amount of butter …
For a smaller loaf, split the recipe in half.
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Home made butter – so easy and so worth it! >
Follow the steps
1. Pour the double cream in to a jar and fill it for two third.
2. Close the lid
3. Start shaking the jar. After 5 minutes the double cream should be very thick
4. Shaking might be difficult now so wrap the jar in a tea towel and tap it on the floor.
Turn it up and down again while you tap it.
5. At this point the buttermilk should be starting so separate from the butter, drain the buttermilk by squeezing it out with a spoon or spatula. Keep the buttermilk.
6. Try to get out as much buttermilk as you can, keep squeezing until it becomes to look more and more like butter.
7. Pour water into the jar to wash away the last of the buttermilk from the butter.
8. Use your spoon or spatula to squeeze out the remaining water.
9. Now add seasalt and herbs or garlic.
Keep the butter refrigerated.
You can use the buttermilk to bake delicious pancakes
|butter on speculoos, delicious!|
Home made butter, the best!
Please leave a comment, I love reading them!