Archive for October, 2012

Foodie Penpal Package October 2012

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This month’s  Foodie Penpal package comes from the lovely Bene, in London 🙂 

This was a bit of a whopper of a package! A blooming great one too – packed with all kinds of healthy and unhealthy goodies! Raspberry and Yoghurt Cereal, Porridge Oats, Crispbreads, Caramel Wafers, Seed biscuits, fruity cereal toppers, and yoghurt coated fruit bits. Very very yummy! Thanks Bene!

If you’re interested in joining our little band of roving food-fans, I suggest you head on over to thisisrocksalt where the lovely Carol-Ann Grady will hook you up!

The Yuppiebaker goes on a preserving bender (again)

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It happened again. I swore it wouldn’t, but it did. I gave into the urge to preserve. I don’t even eat jam/jelly! It’s a serious problem!

It happens every Autumn; lots of wild fruit everywhere, and a desire not to let any of it go to waste. Well, this year, due to the lack of fruit (utterly hideous Summer messed everything up) my options were very limited.

I had to look beyond the obvious apples/plums/cherries/sloes to the only two things that seemed to have done well: rosehips and crab apples.

Crab apples, if you’ve never come across them, are small, hard little apples which certainly aren’t any good for eating, and are generally too small to make worth preparing for cooking. Driving along country roads you’ll see these things littering the road in places, squashed and brown where they’ve been driven over. But when Mum and I went out on our foraging field-trip at the weekend there really weren’t even all that many crab apples to be seen! Until we came across one tree, in the middle of nowhere, which was attempting to make up for the lack of crab apples anywhere else all by itself! Yards and yards of ground around this one tree were covered with little yellow apples, and you couldn’t take a step without crushing them underfoot. It’s a forager’s dream come true 🙂

More easy to spot were the bright red rosehips in the hedgerows up and down the country at the moment – and what’s more they appear to have been plentiful, in spite of the weather. Rosehips are one of the wonderful forgotten British fruits – they can’t be eaten easily, but prepared in jams or jellies they are a fantastic source of Vit C, to the extent that during the war, children were sent out to collect rosehips to make syrup, which would be administered daily to make up for the lack of fresh fruits.

None of the recipes Mum and I used are terribly labour intensive, but be warned: they take time, space and loads of clean, empty jars with lids. (I made the jelly, then checked for jars – WRONG WAY AROUND! Make sure you have plenty of standard sized jam jars).

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The Rosehip and Apple Jelly recipe can be found at: http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/rosehip-and-apple-jelly-recipe-60/

The Rosehip Syrup recipe can be found at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2006/oct/21/recipes.dessert

And the Crab Apple Jelly recipe can be found at: http://www.waitrose.com/home/recipes/recipe_directory/c/crab_apple_jelly.html

I spiced up the Crab Apple jelly by adding a couple of cloves, cardamom pod and a cinnamon stick respectively to three of the jars. Rosemary also works very well – just add a sprig to the jar as the jelly cools.

Wedding baking, part 1: Pecan Pie

Hello hello! Well, I’m sorry it has been a little while since I last posted – life has been rather crazed of late. But, we have finally reached the end of the run of weddings this year, and I can finally have a quiet weekend/evenings to do all the stuff I’ve been putting off for a while.

So this last weekend was the wedding of the lovely Alex and Becca. It was a wonderfully spontaneous, chaotic and fabulously-dressed event – including a last-minute hand-fasting using multiple guest’s scarfs (not to mention a Loch Ness monster hat!) Everyone brought instruments, food, drink and arty stuff and had a whale of a time.

In my usual way, I stuck to what I know, which is cakes and puddings. And having got into the most recent Leon recipe book I thought I’d do something from that. Glad I did – it was yummy!

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Leon Pecan Pie (serves 8 – 10)

Pastry

  • 150g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, plus 1 yolk
  • 270g gluten free flour (I used normal plain flour)

Filling:

  • 50g butter
  • 225g golden syrup
  • 2 tbs caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200g pecan halves
  1. Cream together the butter and sugar for the pastry until smooth. Add the egg and egg yolk and mix until full incorporated. Add the flour and bring together into a soft dough. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Grease a 23 – 25cm fluted, loose-bottom pie tin. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until ~3mm thick, and line it with the pastry. Trim the edges, then put back in the fridge for 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 160 degrees c/325 degrees F/GM 3.
  3. Line the pastry case with grease-proof paper, fill it with baking beads (or dry rice/lentils/beans) Bake for 20 minutes then remove the beads/rice/lentils and paper, and return the case to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  4. Melt the butter and syrup in a pan on a low heat until smooth and liquid. Take off the heat and whisk in the sugar.
  5. In a bowl whisk the eggs and corn-flour together until smooth, then add to the slightly cooled syrup mixture.
  6. Fill the pastry case with pecans, then top up with the syrup to just below the edge. Put into the oven, being careful not to spill the syrup.
  7. Bake for about 40 minutes. Take out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

 

Foodie Penpals #4: Goodies Galore!

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This month’s Foodie Penpal package comes from the lovely Vanessa at www.agreenmess.com and ohmygosh what a parcel! I am a very lucky little Yuppiebaker!

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Yoghurt and Orange Rice Cakes: Can anyone say ‘YUM’!? These sound awesome, and definitely qualify as healthy snackage. I’ll need to see if I can find a supplier up here.

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Energy Bars: Well, the nights might be drawing in, but my sofa-bound contemplations of evening jogging during the winter have been given a considerable boost by the prospect of justifying these yummy snacks 🙂

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Garbanzo/Chickpeas – tomato, garlic and herb: A decent sized portion and only 88cal per bag! Given that this bag is lower in calories than just 8 almonds, I think I’m onto a winner.

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Strawberries Galore: Thornton’s Strawberry Crush, Strawberry and White Chocolate Log – Nessy’s favourite, apparently 🙂 I look forward to trying it!

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Nuts and Seeds: Pumpkin 9 Bar, Chocolate with Macademia nuts, and Pecan Pie raw food bar (which I totally love!) 

So thank you again, Nessy, for a wonderful package – I’m very grateful!

If you’re interested in joining our little roaming band of food pioneers then I suggest you rock on over to http://thisisrocksalt.com/foodie-penpals and speak to the lovely Carol Ann Grady, our beloved Euro Foodie Penpals leader. If you are in the USA, then take a gander at www.theleangreenbean.com/foodie-penpals – where it all started 🙂

Utterly decadent Chocolate Brownies a la Leon

I know I said I’d never need another Chocolate Brownie recipe, but I may have exaggerated a bit. It turned out, once I saw this recipes, that I did in fact need another recipe. This recipe: ‘Leon’s Better Brownies’, from Leon; Ingredients and Recipes, by Allegra McEvedy.

If you don’t know the Leon chain, their focus is very much on good quality, organic and fresh ingredients, and many of their recipes cater for special diets. These brownies are flour-free, so great for those with gluten or wheat intolerance.

It was my birthday yesterday, so I invited a few friends over for food and drinks, and I made these for pudding. They were a great success, and everyone loved them. But admittedly they are so rich it really is just about to have more than one. The recipe says that this makes 12 ‘big ‘uns’, but I cut it into 24 and one 24th was still verging on too much! But that’s maybe not surprising given just how much chocolate goes into it.

Leon’s Better Brownies (12 large, or 24 manageable!) 

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(The recipe can be a little fussy, so have simplied it where possible – but do follow the order in which to add ingredients otherwise you might end up with scrambled eggs!)

Step 1 – mixing

  • 180g unsalted butter
  • 200g 54% chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons strong coffee

Step 2 – mixing

  • 1 teaspoon orange oil (I used essance) or grated zest of 1 orange
  • 80g toasted almonds, skin on, chopped
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 160g 54% chocolate chunks
  • 160g 72% chocolate chunks
  • 150g fructose (I used golden caster sugar)
  • pinch salt
  • 3 – 4 drops good quality vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/GM 4
  2. Melt the butter either in the microwave for 1 minute or on the hob, once melted allow to cool slightly.
  3. Separately, melt the 200g 54% chocolate in a bowl over warm water until fully melted and glossy, then remove from the heat.
  4. Add the coffee to the butter and stir, and then add the orange.
  5. Toast the skin-on almonds lightly, then chop roughly and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  6. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat lightly. Add the ground almonds and stir well. Then add the cooled melted chocolate, and both the 54% and 72% chocolate chunks, the chopped almonds, then the fructose/sugar. Stir well. Stir in the salt and vanilla, followed by the butter mixture. Mix until well, but don’t mix too much air in otherwise it’ll crumble in the oven.
  7. Spoon the batter into a well greased baking tray (the book says 30cm by 30cm, but I used one a bit smaller and it was fine) then bake in the over for 20 – 25 minutes. It should end up slightly crisp on top and soft in the middle.

I’d give it a few minutes to cool in the tray, before cutting it and transferring the brownies to a cooling rack. They also work very well warm with double cream 🙂

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