Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

You know these recipes are delicious because if I didn't think that they were fabulous . . . I wouldn't be showing them to you. You can also be sure that these recipes work for the same reason! The rest is simply a matter of taste.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Waldorf Salad

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I don't always eat hedonistically calorie laden goodies here in my English Kitchen.  Sometimes I actually eat healthy stuff.  You know . . . things like fruit and salads . . . full of freshness and vitamins, instead of fat and calories . . .

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You might not think the words "Waldorf Salad" and healthy go together, and most times you would probably be correct.  Most times it is cloyingly clogged with tons of mayonnaise  . . . as good as it might taste, it's not that good for you to indulge in it very often . . .

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Until now that is.   This version is light and absolutely as delicious to eat as it is beautiful to look at!  I found this recipe in a Donna Hay book, so you know it's going to be good and healthy too.  I cannot claim the original credit for it, although I have adapted it somewhat to the ingredients I happened to have in my own kitchen.

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I am a great believer in making do with what you have on hand.   I switched out the watercress in her recipe for baby gem leaves and  salad cress (mustard cress).    I also didn't go to the trouble of dragging out the food processor to make a little salad dressing.  I simply mashed everything together with a fork and it worked a charm.

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I thought it would be a lot of fun to top the salad with the top of the apple, which is sliced really thinly, instead of being chopped . . . and I toasted the walnuts because . . . well . . . toasting just makes nuts taste better, don't you think?

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Altogether it was easy and it was light.  It was fresh.  It was delicious.   It was healthy . . .  with crisp apples and toasty nuts, ribbons of celery (de-stringed of course) and a wonderfully light blue cheese dressing.  I do hope you will give it a go.   I think you'll agree with me.  This is fabulous.

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*Waldorf Salad*
Serves 4

This has a beautiful presentation.  By all means if you don't want to present it like this, feel free to cut the apples into cubes, along with the celery.  This is so pretty though when you do it the other way.  

3 ripe Granny Smith apples, washed well
1 firm stalk of celery, washed and de-stringed
(Just use a sharp knife to grab the strings at the ends of the stalk and gently pull,
they will easily pull awa)
100g toasted walnuts, chopped coarsely (1 cup)
1 head of baby gem lettuce, washed and leaves broken into bits
a punnet of salad cress (a large handful)  


For the dressing:
75g of good quality whole egg mayonnaise (1/4 cup)
the juice of 1/2 lemon
2 TBS water
1 tsp sugar
fine sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
100g mild blue cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)  

You will want all of your elements ready prior to cutting the apples as they quickly turn brown.  Alternately toss them with a tsp of lemon juice to help prevent this from happening.  

First make the dressing.  Mash all of the dressing ingredients together with a fork, until you have a smooth dressing.  Set aside.  

Cut ythe stalk of celery into thirds and then thinly slice each third into ribbons.  (Now you know why you want it de-stringed)  Alternately cut it into thin slices crosswise.    Tear up your baby gems and divide them between each of four salad plates.   Scatter the celery on top.  Thinly slice the apples horizontally.  Discard any seeds.  Arrange them decoratively on top of the celery.  (Althernatively cut them into cubes.)  Scatter with the toasted walnuts and the cress.  Drizzle with the blue cheese dressing and serve immediately.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Hawaiian Hots and Spam Appreciation Week!

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I love sandwiches.  I think next to potatoes, chocolate and lemons, sandwiches are one of my absolute favourite things to eat!!  Yep, low carb does not work for me.  Not at all.  Sandwiches can be as simple as you like or as complicated as you like.  It all depends on how you are feeling.   Some days I am in ecstacy over a simple jam sandwich and others I am wanting an Italian Grinder.  It's a mood thing I guess.

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I was recently sent some Spam ® in these new pop top plastic containers!  Way cool beans!  So easy to open and to use!  I love them!

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The old tin was always a bit fiddly to work with and I was always afraid I would cut myself on it.  This is a really nice improvement.  Did you know that SPAM have a competition running at the moment to win five weekend theatre breaks plus £100 spending money plus 100 runner up prizes.  In order to enter you can simply upload a photo, video, drawing or even just a short sentence at www.spam-uk.com.   The contest closes on the 28th February, so you still have enough time to enter if you wish!

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Next week is Spam Appreciation week and in honor of that I have created a tasty sandwich for you all. It's a hot sandwich so is perfect for a simple supper.   Did you know that Spam is the number one favourite luncheon meat in Hawaii?   Hawaiian's just love the stuff.  I'm not surprised actually.   We are big fans of it in this house too.

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I decided to take on a Hawaiian theme with this sandwich because they are such fans and I thought it would be fun.    Hot dog buns stuffed with a delicious spam filling created by using chopped spam, cheese, onion, pineapple crush, hot peppers, mayonnaise and spicy barbeque sauce!   You just mix it all together and stuff the buns, which are then wrapped tightly in foil and baked until the filling is bubbling and oozingly tasty good!

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A man and kid pleaser, this is luau food, without the trouble of pit roasting a whole pig!  All joking aside, these are incredibly tasty! The Toddster tucked into two of them all by himself.  I love it when that happens!  I served these with some oven chips, but potato chips would be great with them, as would some potato salad.  I think you'll agree that these are quite simply delicious!

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*Hawaiian Hots*
Serves 6 

These hot sandwiches are simple to make and oh so tasty, with lovely flavours of pineapple, barbeque sauce, cheese and our favourite Spam®! 

1 tin of spam® luncheon meat, chopped
1/2 pound of strong cheddar cheese, grated
1  tin of pineapple crush, well drained  (you'll have almost 1/2 cup of pineapple)
1 small red onion, peeled and minced
several pickled hot peppers, chopped finely
(I used the discovery sweet yellow jalapeno peppers)
2 TBS good quality mayonnaise
2 TBS barbeque sauce
pepper to taste
1 package of hot dog buns split
chopped onion and cress to garnish  

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Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 7.

Make sure your pineapple is really well drained.  You don't want it to be too wet or the filling will be too wet.  If you have to, put it in a clean tea towel, wrap it up tightly and squeeze it really well.  Mash together the spam, cheese, pineapple, onion, mayonnaise, barbeque sauce and pepper to taste.  Split the hot dog buns.  Divide the mixture evenly between the buns filling them well.  Wrap each tightly in foil. Place them onto a baking tray and then bang them into the heated oven.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, at which time the buns should be a bit crisp on the outsides and the filling will be oozingly tasty good.  Let stand for several minutes before serving.   The filling will be very hot so take care.  Serve garnished with more chopped onion and a sprinkling of cress.   

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Now that's tasty! 

Many thanks to Rachel and the people at SPAM® for sending me these tasty little tubs!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

A Simply Gorgeous Breakfast Bake



I grew up surrounded by an abundance of wild blueberries, so much so that they were very much taken for granted . . . not those big grape sized ones that we get in the grocery stores over here, but those delicious tasty little pea sized morsels that you can only get from spending back breaking hours in the hot sun to acquire.



Along about the first week of August the ice cream buckets would appear on the kitchen counter, and we kids knew it was blueberry picking time . . . a time we both dreaded and revered all at once. We would spend hours in the blueberry bush, choosing and picking the dainty delicious berries and filling those ice cream buckets, the time only made longer according to how many actually made it into the buckets and how many made it into our tummies!



The warm summer sun and humming insects helping us to feel all cosy and, well . . . part of a family, all co-erced into partaking of this glorious labour! Co-erced by rose coloured memories and the anticipation of pieces of warm, fresh blueberrie pie, the lucious blue juice dripping onto the plate, mingling with runny rivelets of melting fresh vanilla ice cream . . . beautiful puffy lemon coloured muffins studded with those gorgeous purple berries and sprinkled with crusty sugar crumbles on top . . .



. . . light as a cloud buttermilk pancakes bursting full of the sweet lucious beauties, stacked three high, a golden pat of butter melting and gilding the edges, doused in beautifully sweet real maple syrup, the perfect foil . . . we knew as children that the more berries we picked the more of these delights we'd be able to savor over the long winter ahead.



Tired and hot at the end of the day, our fingers stained blue, with blue lips and teeth, sitting around the kitchen table with big bowls of tasty berries sprinkled with sugar and covered in cream. Berrys still warm from the sun, cream cold from the fridge, smiles on all the berry stained faces, knowing we had once again secured this little taste of summer for the winter ahead . . .



Oh how I missed them when I first moved over here to the UK. They were not readily available at all . . . what I wouldn't given at that time for a fresh blueberry pie. When you could find them at all, a premium price was paid for them . . . one that we could only afford as a very rare treat. Thankfully that is no longer the case, and whilst we can't get the lovely wild ones I grew up with, the larger cultivated ones are quite common in the shops now, although they can still be a bit pricey from time to time.



This past autumn we planted some blueberry bushes so that next year, with any luck, we will have our very own tasty source of the little beauties in our garden. Lots of little jewels to make delicious things such as this Blueberry and Almond Breakfast Bake . . . kind of like a baked French Toast . . .



Enticing, heartwarming and a beauty to behold. This pleases me on lots of levels. Eggy and lightly sweetened with a crisp and sweet sugared almond topping. Delicious!



*Blueberry and Almond Breakfast Bake*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

You need to plan ahead with this as it needs to be refrigerated overnight. The hardest thing about it will be waiting for it to come out of the oven as it smells fabulous while it is baking!

1 9 inch whole wheat baguette, cut into 1 inch cubes
(about 4 ounces)
250ml of 2% milk (1 cup)
6 large free range eggs
125ml of pure maple syrup (1/2 cup)
pinch salt (optional)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 heaped mug of fresh blueberries (about 1 cup)
a handful of flaked almonds
2 TBS demerara sugar (turbinado)
Maple syrup for pouring (optional)

Spray a 7 by 10 inch baking dish with some nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the bread cubes in the dish. Dust with the cinnamon. Whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup and pinch of salt (if using.) Pour this mixture evenly over top of the bread cubes, making sure the liquid saturates the bread evenly. Scatter the blueberries over top. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and turbinado sugar. cover with plastic cling film and then refrigerate overnight.

In the morning take it out of the fridge about half an hour before you want to bake it.

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Uncover the dish and then bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the eggs are set and the casserole is lightly browned on top. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes before cutting into quarters to serve. Serve hot with or without more syrup for pouring.

Note:  If you are using frozen berries, don't sprinkle them over top until just prior to baking.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

A simple soup of delicious proportions



Everyone should have a recipe like this up their sleeves. A fabulous soup which makes good use of ingredients that are in most people's larders, and goes together lickety split . . . with very little effort.



Quick and easy . . . and simple to execute. Don't let that fool you into thinking that it's simplicity will affect it's taste. This is quite, quite delicious.

Your family will think you have slaved all day over it . . .



Just make sure you bury the tins deep in the bin, and your secret will be safe!




I promise not to tell. Cross my heart!




*Simply Tasty Tomato Soup*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Simple, tasty and very easy, this store cupboard soup is bound to become a family favourite.

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 TBS butter
2 (400g) tins of dice plum tomatoes with garlic and olive oil
1 (295g) tin of condensed tomato soup (Batchelors or Campbells) undiluted
250ml of milk
boiling water as needed
dash of tabasco sauce
1 tsp dried basil (I use Bart Freeze Dried)
1 tsp dried parsley flakes (once again I use Bart Freeze Dried)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Garnish:
garlic croutons
2 ounces grated cheddar cheese



Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion and saute, stirring occsionally, until softened. Stir in the undrained tomatoes, tinned soup and milk. Add enough boiling water to give you a desirable consistency. Bring almost to the boil. Stir in the tabasco, basil and parsley flakes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook on low for 10 to 15 minutes until the flavours melt together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle out into heated bowls, garnishing each serving with some croutons and grated cheese.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Easy Goji Berry Granola

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I was recently asked to create a recipe using Goji berries.  If you have never heard of Goji berries, let me enlighten you as to the health properties of these very delicious little red berries.  Also known as Wolf Berries, these small red berries are filled with goodness.

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Chinese healers have been using them for centuries, and whilst the majority of them are grown in the Himalayas and China, they also occur wild in Belgium and Holland.  These tasty little red dynamos contain 18 amino acids and 22 dietary minerals including zinc, calcium, iron and germanium, which is a strong immune stimulant rarely found in foods.  Amazingly they contain more iron than spinach, more vitamin C than oranges and more protein than meat.  And if that's not enough to make you want to reach for them, they can be eaten raw, cooked or dried.

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I first got turned onto them via a snack program I was signed up to.  They make a great portable snack, and are much better for you than snacking on candy or crisps.  I like the idea of snacking on something which is good for me.

nu3 are the ones who issued the challenge and who sent me my berries to make something with.

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I chose to make a granola with them, because I love Granola.  It's always been my breakfast cereal of choice.  I usually have a small bowl of it each morning topped with greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey.   It seemed the perfect thing to add them to.

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I have always made my own granola.  I like knowing exactly what is in my granola and controlling how much fat and sugar go into it.  This particular version is created in a skillet on top of the stove.   It's rather tasty.   I like to think that with the addition of Goji berries it just got healthier.

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*Easy Goji Berry Granola*
Makes a large 2 litre container

This tasty version of granola is a bit different in that you do it in a pan on top of the stove.  You can easily cut down the amounts and make a smaller batch if you wish, but you will find that it's great for snacking on as well as for use as a breakfast food. 


320g of rolled oats, not quick cooking (4 cups)
115g of butter (1/2 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
4 TBS runny honey
100g of soft light brown sugar (1/2 cup packed)
85g of flaked almonds (1/2 cup)
60g of chopped pecans (1/2 cup)
55g of whole cashews (1/2 cup)
75g of shredded coconut (1 cup)
150g of dried fruit (about 1 cup, I used  half Goji berries and the rest was a mix of dried blueberries, sour cherries and sultanas) 


Place a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the butter, brown sugar, honey, vanilla and almond extract.  Cook and stir to melt.  Add the oats, nuts and coconut to the skillet.  Stir to coat well with the butter/sugar mixture.  Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the granola is a dark golden brown.  This will take 10 to 20 minutes and do keep an eye on it so that it doesn't catch and burn.  Remove from the heat and pour out onto a baking sheet to cool  completely.  Add the dried fruit and mix in.  Store in an airtight container.  

Although I was sent a box of Goji berries, any opinions and views are my own.  Many thanks to Annais for sending these to me.  If you would like to learn more about this product check out the nu3Goji berry page.

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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Apple and Plum Tart



As I write this, late on Saturday afternoon . . . the sun is shining in a perfectly blue sky. It is a bit chilly, but still a beautiful day all the same.



I have wash drying out on the line, all our bedding is blowing in the light breeze. It will smell some good tonight when we drag our tired bodies into bed



I have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir playing softly on the stereo and . . . a tired puppy lays sleeping next to me, having spent most of the day running around the garden in the sun. Oh she does love the sun . . . not so much the rain though, but then . . . who can blame her!




I also have this fabulous tart sitting on the counter!! ( ahem . . . minus one piece, I confess!)



I have been eye balling this tart recipe ever since I got the Popina Baking Book waaaay back last year. I've baked a few things from it and loved them, but the picture of this tart has been calling my name.



Finally today, all was in place and I was able to get it done. I had the ingredients . . . I had the time . . . and I was in the mood!



Oh my . . . it is some good. Of course, I have adapted it a bit . . . it is my curse you know . . . this never being able to leave well enough alone . . .



I'm rather a lazy sod really . . . and so I pressed the pastry into the tart tin instead of rolling it out. Know what? It worked perfectly and cut a lot of aggravation and time out of the recipe.



I didn't have the exact plums called for either, so used what I did have, which were big fat red plums . . .



The original recipe called for Bramley's and I did have them, but I thought two Bramleys was far too much apple, even one would have been too much as my bramleys are rather large, and so I used two granny smith's instead.



The result?

I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves . . .
This is one very, very good tart! The perfect tart for the perfect autumn day.

Lots of sunshine, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a tired and sleepy pup, breeze blown sheets and a delicious apple and plum tart. What more could you ask for?




*Apple and Plum Tart*
Makes one 12 inch tart
Printable Recipe

A beautiful tart filled with a sweet sponge and a fruity combination of sweet plums and tart apples.

for the sweet pastry:
250g of plain flour (2 cups)
125g of unsalted butter, chilled and cubed (1/2 cup)
85g of caster sugar (a scant 1/3 cup)
1 large free range egg

For the sponge:
45g of unsalted butter (1/3 cup)
90g caster sugar (1/3 cup)
1 large free range egg
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
90g of plain flour (a scant 7/8 cup)

For the fruit:
4 large sweet plums, pitted and cut into quarters
1 large granny smith apple, cored and cut into slices

3 TBS apricot jam to glaze

First make the pastry. Place the flour, butter and sugar into a food processor and blitz until all crumbly. Add the beaten egg and blitz again until well combined. Press evenly into a 12 inch tart tin with a loose bottom.

Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F/ gas mark 3.

Cream together the butter and sugar for the sponge, until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and baking powder. Fold in the flour. Spread this batter evenly into the prepared pastry shell. Scatter the fruit over top.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes in the heated oven. The sponge will have risen up around the fruit and the fruit will have sunk a little and be juicy. Remove from the oven. Heat the apricot jam over low heat and brush over top of the warm tart.

Serve warm or at room temperature with cream or custard.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Salted Caramel Topped Biscuits (aka Cookies)



Salted caramel is all the rage right now. I think it's that sweet/savoury thing . . . .



You know . . . like peanutbutter and jam, or sugar grilled bacon . . .
Or eggs poached in maple syrup, which I promise to show you one of these days.



These biscuits (cookies) are moreishly crunchy and topped with a perfect swirl of sweet salted caramel . . . ohhhh sooooo scrummy!!



They look like you spent ages in the kitchen, but really . . . they go together lickety split!
The salted caramel is very easy to make and I am betting that you will find a hundred and one uses for it. It goes beautifully along with a layer of buttercream in the middle of a caramel flavoured sponge . . .



It's loverly sandwiched between those crunchy malted milk biscuits you can buy at the shops, or even tea biscuits. Really, it's pretty moreish just eaten off the spoon, but do try to resist . . .



You'll be wanting all of this to top your biscuits with.



*Salted Caramel Topped Biscuits*

Makes about 30
Printable Recipe

Oh my but these are moreishly good. Crisp and crunchy with a lovely salted caramel topping.

200g self raising flour (about a cup and a half)
75g malt powder such as Horlicks (about 3/4 cup)
a pinch of fine sea salt
150g of butter, softened (2/3 cup)
50g of caster sugar (1/4 cup)
1 medium egg, lightly beaten

For the Salted caramel:
75g dark brown soft sugar (about 1/3 cup packed)
50g butter (1/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon of crushed fleu de sel
1/2 (397g) tin of sweetened condensed milk (7 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/gas mark 5. Lightly grease several baking sheets and set aside.

Sift the flour into a bowl. Whisk in the malt powder and salt. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar and then stir in the egg, mixing until combined and bringing the dough together with your hands. Pinch off walnut sized pieces of the dough and roll into one inch balls. Flatten the balls with your hands and then place them onto the baking trays leaving about 2 inches of space between each one. Bake in the heated oven for ab out 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks. Repeat until all the dough has been used up.

To make the salted caramel, gently heat the sugar, butter and sea salt together over low heat, stirring now and again until the sugar is melted and does not feel gritty at all. Tip in the condensed milk and cook, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes until the mixture is completely smooth and amalgamated. Increase the heat and as soon as the mixture begins to bubble remove from the heat and set aside to cool until lukewarm.

Top each biscuit with a swirl of the salted caramel and allow to cool completely to set. Store in an airtight container between sheets of parchment paper.