Strawberry Fields . . . .

When did strawberries become synonymous with June?  Was it Wimbledon with its strawberry and cream dishes – or did Wimbledon decide to start itself in June to enjoy the strawberries!? Whichever way, June heralds British strawberries – full of taste and British sunshine (yes, we do get some – and all the more appreciated when we do!) – unlike their foreign counterparts – big but with little flavour.  I am so lucky living where I do, surrounded with farms and their shops, markets and local greengrocers. Eat locally and you will eat well and that carbon footprint of yours has merely made a few steps.

Packed with vitamins, fibre, and particularly high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols, strawberries are a sodium-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie food. They are among the top 20 fruits in antioxidant capacity and are a good source of manganese and potassium. What’s not to love?! And we all do – from simple strawberries and cream, ice cream, jam and strawberry teas.  I thought this week you might like to try something slightly different with them – starting with JAM.

Everyone knows how to make Jam – but this is a slightly different way – and healthier as it uses half the amount of sugar.  It is called Fridge Jam – because that’s where you keep it when made but it will last a while there (if you don’t let on how much you have made!)

Weigh the fruit and sugar which will be exactly HALF that of the fruit weight.  Put the fruit into a pan and mash to break up.  Add the sugar and the juice of half a lemon and leave for an hour or so. Bring to the boil and boil for EXACTLY 5 MINUTES.  Leave to cool slightly before putting in clean jars and store in fridge when cold.

How do you feel about warm strawberries?  Ever thought of it?  It brings out the juices and the smell is gorgeous – intensely fruity and lightly spicy!

Warm Strawberries with Ricotta Serves 2 (obviously your tennis partner!)

  • 200g strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ½ rounded dessertspoon icing sugar
  • 125g ricotta
  • 1 dessertspoon runny honey
  • Leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosewater (optional)

Put the strawberries in a pan over a low heat with the lemon juice and icing sugar.  As they warm up the juice will be released so that they are gently poaching in it.  Once the juice is flowing, bring to a gentle simmer for 1 -2 minutes, stirring, then remove from the heat.  In a bowl ,mix the ricotta with the honey, thyme and rosewater. Divide between 4 bowls and spoon over the warm strawberries.

And, finally, with a nod to my Scottish heritage –

SCOTTISH BERRY BRULEE -SERVES 2 -3 (or one?)

  • 250g strawberries
  • 120g raspberries
  • 60g blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • ½ orange juice and zest
  • 120g Greek yogurt
  • 85g creme fraiche
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
  • ground cinnamon to dust (optional)

Place all berries in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle over 1/2 tbsp caster sugar and the zest and juice of the orange. Mix together the yoghurt, creme fraiche and remaining caster sugar and spread over the fruit and leave in fridge for 2 hours.  Sprinkle the soft brown sugar over the top and dust with the cinnamon, place under a hot grill until the sugar melts. Serve immediately.

And how could I not finish with listening to the original and best (?) version of Summertime? Enjoy the Sunshine – you’ve earned it after our Winter of Non-Content!

(204) Ella Fitzgerald – Summertime – YouTube

Summer Time?

I should be writing this in warm sunshine or, at worst, soft summer rain – but, instead, it’s gale force winds and biblical rainstorms! Just as we are getting back to normal, the weather decides to be abnormal! It’s very fortunate that we can now meet up with friends inside or we would all be drookit (as we say in Scotland)!

There are usually some silver linings to be found somewhere, though, and mine are the arrival of British asparagus and Jersey Royal potatoes. The potatoes have been grown on the island for 140 years and today there are approximately 20 island farmers who grow them (and often no other crops) on approximately 7,300 acres and can only be grown on Jersey to have the name. As for the asparagus, I am very lucky to live in the Valley of Evesham, one of the homes of British asparagus. I know you can buy this most of the year from abroad – but The Husband and I try to eat seasonally and locally and I urge you to do the same both for flavour and to support your next-door farmers. My two recipes below are thus using 2 British stalwarts – but with a twist!

Coconut Potato Bowl with Lime and Ginger

  • 100g (or as much as you like) Jersey Royal potatoes, roughly chopped
  •  75g cauliflower florets
  •  1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  •  Sea salt and pepper
  •  50g (or as much as you like) asparagus
  •  ½ tsp olive oil
  •  6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  •  1 spring onion, sliced
  •  500g superfood salad
  •  15g coconut flakes, toasted , to garnish

Dressing;    1 tbsp olive oil      finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lime             1 cm grated ginger

Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas mark 6. Place the potatoes and cauliflower florets in a roasting tray, drizzle over the coconut oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and roast for 30 minutes until tender and beginning to brown. In the meantime, prepare everything else; brush the asparagus with ½ tsp olive oil, heat a griddle pan until hot and cook the stems until charred and tender. Set aside. For the dressing, whisk together the olive oil and lime juice, then stir in the zest and ginger and season with some salt and pepper. To assemble, arrange the potatoes and cauliflower to one side and place the other ingredients round the bowl (or how you prefer), drizzle with the dressing and scatter over the coconut flakes, or serve on the side.

CRAB AND ASPARAGUS WITH THAI MAYONNAISE

  • 4 Asparagus spears ) this recipe is still for one but obviously you can increase
  • 125g crab meat        ) these amounts depending on how much you love them!
  • large slice of sourdough bread
  • olive oil
  • handful of rocket leaves (as you may know I eat spinach nearly every day so you could use this instead)
  • 2 tablespoons of good mayonnaise
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1/4 – 1/2 red chilli
  • freshly grated zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (if this is the first time you have used it please don’t be put off by the smell – it tastes much better!)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander

Cook the asparagus in boiling water for 2 – 4 minutes, drain and refresh under cold running water. Stir the garlic, chilli, zest, fish sauce and coriander into the mayonnaise.  Season if necessary, fold in the crab meat and set aside.  Toast the bread, drizzle with olive oil and scatter over rocket or spinach leaves. Pile the crab mixture on top. Toss the cold asparagus spears in a little olive oil and arrange over the crab meat.

Alternatively, you could cook LOTS of  asparagus and serve, on the side,  hot with lashings butter – using any left over toast to soak up the juices.

potatoes
asparagus

Celebrate your Oneness

In England, we can now go out and meet up with friends (6) in outside venues, have your hair cut (unless, like me, you can’t even get through on the phone for an appointment!) and even stay away in a self catering UK villa. Whilst, of course, all this is great, there will be some of you who throughout various lockdowns may have had kind friends and neighbours leave a meal on the doorstep (or you may have done the same for someone else and cooked for more than yourself) or you will have enjoyed takeaways of some description as a treat. Now it is back to “normal” and you find yourself back to cooking for one – where, of course, all this blog started. So these 2 recipes are especially for you – 2 meals exactly for one but with a bit of zip in to get you back on the road! You are unique and deserve the best you can. You’re worth it!

Vietnamese-style Chicken Noodle Bowl

  • 30g coconut milk powder (no leftover coconut milk)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 chicken breast, sliced
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1/2 red chilli
  • 2 tablespoons Vietnamese curry paste (find it in the World food aisle in your supermarket)
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bashed
  • 1 nest rice vermicelli noodles
  • 9g pack of baby pak choi
  • finely chopped coriander
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (tastes much nicer than it smells!)
  • 1/2 lime, juice

Dissolve the coconut powder in 225ml of cold water and set aside. Heat the oil in large pan, add chicken, shallots and the chilli and stir fry over a medium heat for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the curry paste and stir in the coconut milk. Add the lemongrass and bring to the boil; simmer for 2 – 3 minutes. Meanwhile, soak the noodles according to pack instructions. Add the pak choi to the pan and stir in coriander to taste. Cook over a gentle heat for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the noodles, stir and cook for 1 – 2 minutes until piping hot. Stir in the lime juice. Carefully remove the lemongrass, ladle into a wide bowl and eat immediately!

Vietnamese-style chicken noodle bowl

Chorizo, sweet potato and spinach oven hash

This throw-it-together dish is full of warming spices. The oven does most of the work and the combination of tender sweet potato, sticky red onion , chorizo and creamy aioli is lovely!

  • 1 sweet potato cut into cubes
  • 1 small red onion cut into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon aioli (you can buy some excellent ones in a jar now)
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and cut into wedges
  • 1 large egg
  • 80g spinach
  • 60g diced chorizo (some supermarkets sell ready diced frozen chorizo so even less waste!)

Preheat oven to 200oC Gas 6. In a roasting, toss the potato and onion with the oil, cumin, paprika and cinnamon and salt and pepper. Bake for 20m – 25 minutes, until tender. In a bowl, mix together the aioli, lemon zest and a squeeze of juice and set aside. Bring a small pan of water to simmer and boil the egg for 7 minutes. Lift out, cool, peel and cut in half. Put the spinach in a colander and pour over some boiling water from a kettle to wilt it. Rinse with cold and squeeze out the excess water. Scatter the chorizo into the tin with the potato and roast for 5 more minutes. Add the wilted spinach and toss through. Top with the boiled egg halves and serve with the aioli mix drizzled over and lemon wedges.

(87) John Travolta And Olivia Newton John – You’re The One That I Want (Lyrics) – YouTube

Lights and Tunnels

Tonight at 2.00am in the UK, British Summertime begins and in two days time on the 29th in England, groups of 6 can once more meet outdoors for the first time in FOREVER! Vaccinations are steaming ahead and levels of new infections of Covid are going down. Spring is springing as I write and a mini heatwave expected next weekend for Easter. Truly, lights at the end of a long winter’s tunnel! As the weeks go by, we will be able to meet up with friends, go to a pub, go out to dinner (even though if you’ve been following these blogs I know you will have been eating well!), and enjoy the beginnings of normality.

The Husband and I have been on a bit of a health kick recently and it’s been a challenge to cook low fat/low calorie meals which satisfy but still deliver flavoursome kicks. The one below is probably one of our favourites – and I’ve even managed to make a chocolate mousse with no (added) sugar or cream!

CHINESE PORK PATTIES – this makes enough for patties for 2 (or one hungry person!) Either have some more tomorrow as they are really delicious or freeze any remaining.

  • 1/2 225g tinned whole water chestnuts in water, drained
  • 2500g lean pork mince (5% fat)
  • 6 spring onions, 2 finely diced and 4 thickly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp grated root ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 60g mushrooms, halved
  • 100g pak choi, chopped
  • 1/2 red chilli, finely diced (deseeded if you prefer)
  • 200g fresh egg noodles
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
  1. Finely chop half the water chestnuts; put them in a bowl with the mince, diced spring onions, ginger and Chinese 5 spice. Season; combine with your fingers. Divide into 12 portions; form each into a patty.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a nonstick frying pan over a medium heat. Add half the patties, cook for 4 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove, cover and keep warm while you cook the rest in another teaspoon of oil.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a wok. Add the mushrooms; fry for a few minutes. Add the pak choi, sliced spring onions and chilli and stir-fry over a high heat for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add the noodles and the rest of the water chestnuts, sliced horizontally; toss for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the sauces; toss. Pile on to a plate and top with the pork patties.
Recipe: Chinese pork patties with noodles

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

60g dark chocolate 2 eggs

Melt the chocolate. Separate the eggs. Whisk the whites till firm. Whisk the yolks into the chocolate. Add a spoonful of whipped egg white to the mix to loosen the mixture before folding in the rest, being careful not to mix too long and lose the air. Pop in the fridge till wanted.

This is enough for two – as you can see it would be easy to halve (30g chocolate and 1 egg) but why would you want to?

Marching 0n . . . .

Marching on . . if only! The Husband has broken his ankle and hobbling along like Long John Silver with a boot and crutches. How did he do it? A gym injury. How many times have I tried to avoid all questions of getting me into one (when there are still so many books to read?) – and now I feel fully vindicated to have done so! One of us has to be 2 footed enough to drive, to fetch and carry – and continue to stand in the kitchen, cooking! With the end of lockdown in sight (and both of us vaccinated), we thought we were on the home straight to freedom, particularly as it is looking as if Spring is springing. It will, hopefully, only be a couple of weeks more of limping, but being confined to barracks does not sit well with The Husband so I decided to make him one of my ultimate comfort foods –

BEEF SHORT RIBS WITH STAR ANISEthis is enough for 2 so either you take a meal around to a neighbour – or look forward to having it again (probably even the next night as it is so good!)

  • 2 beef short ribs
  • 1/2 tablesp  flour                               
  • 2 tablesps vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped                        
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 20g fresh ginger, grated             
  • 2 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander               
  • 1/2 teasp Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 tablesps soy sauce                   
  • 1 1/2 tablesps Chinese rice wine (use sherry if you haven’t any – or just water)
  • 3 tablesp white wine vinegar (I had run out so used cider vinegar)
  • 1 beef stock cube dissolved in 125ml water

Preheat oven to 150oC. Season and toss the ribs in flour.  Heat 1 tablesp oil in flameproof dish and sear.  Take out.  Add remaining oil and add onion and saute for few mins.  Add garlic and ginger for 2 mins then add spices.  Pour in stock and use spoon to deglaze the dish. Add soy, rice wine, vinegar.  Stir well and put ribs back in. Cover and cook in oven for about 3 ½ hours. Scatter over fresh mint and coriander leaves and serve with rice and griddled pak choi.

And to cleanse the palate after all that lovely saltiness – PINEAPPLE SORBET which will keep in the freezer for whenever you want some zinging freshness.

Put the pineapple into a blender or food processor and blitz to a purée. To make the stock syrup, put all the ingredients in a large pot with 500ml water, slowly bring to the boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat. Tip the pineapple purée and the lime juice into the syrup and stir well. Leave to cool, then strain and place in a container and freeze. Alternatively, tip the syrup into a large tray and freeze until it starts to set, then every hour or so break up the ice with a fork. Serve the sorbet scooped into dessert glasses with a few slices of mango.

Pineapple sorbet with fresh mango

I’m Late . . I’m Late for a very important date!

Image result for white rabbit

I know, I’m sorry, I’m really late for the date of Shrove Tuesday! I had it all set up to do – and then decided to paint our bedroom! And then . . . well, you know how it is – you do one thing and it leads to another. Lovely, freshly painted walls showed up the winter’s dust and cobwebs . . . . the bed obviously had to be changed . . . new cushion covers for the bed and chair!

I was going to abandon the idea of pancakes altogether but, on the basis that Tuesday is a week day (work and home schooling – however do you manage?) you might have more time at the weekend to try out a different pancake recipe.

A Japanese soufflé pancake is a pancake made using soufflé techniques and are incredibly popular there. Egg whites are whipped up with sugar into a glossy thick meringue then mixed with a batter made with the yolks. Soufflé pancakes are fluffy, jiggly, sweet, soft, and so, so delicious. They taste like you are eating a sweet pancake cloud, with butter and syrup!

JAPANESE PANCAKES – this could be more than enough for one (or not, depending on how hungry you are!)

  • 2 large eggs                                                         
  • 2¼ tsp baking powder
  • 150g plain flour                                                  
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 180ml full fat milk                                             
  • Zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
  • For the lemon syrup
  • Juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 100g icing sugar
  • To serve
  • 25g Greek yoghurt                                             
  • 75g mascarpone 
  • ½ tsp icing sugar
  • Blackberries or raspberries / handful of pistachio nuts

Split the eggs and whisk the whites firmly. Put the yolks to one side. Sift the baking powder into the flour, then sift again before adding the sugar. Mix well. In the middle, create a well and add the egg yolks and oil. Mix, then add the milk and mix again. Blend the batter on high power or at speed if using a whisk. Mix in half of the lemon zest. Fold in the whisked egg whites with a metal spoon, being careful not to knock the air out of the mixture. Warm a frying pan on the lowest heat and wait until the bottom is fully and equally heated. Grease the pan lightly with oil.  Pour batter into a muffin ring or poached egg ring placed in the centre of your pan and fill until two-thirds full. Add a few drops of water into the pan before putting the lid on. Stand back and let the heat and steam do the work. Check after about 8 min. If they are wobbly yet firm, very gently turn them over using a fish slice. Put the lid back on and cook for another few minutes. Meanwhile, make your lemon syrup. Bring the lemon juice with icing sugar to the boil. Boil for 2 min, let simmer at medium heat. Put in a small bowl. In another bowl, mix the yoghurt, mascarpone, ½ teaspoon icing sugar and the remainder of the lemon zest. As soon as the pancakes are done, bring your toppings to the table and tuck in.

Jennifer (daughter) – this one is for you!

新年快乐 / 新年快樂 (xīn nián kuài lè) “Happy New Year!”

We’re Entering the Year of the Ox. Here’s What It Means

Feeling like 2021 could already use a re-do? Well, you’re in luck! This Friday—February 12, 2021—is the Chinese New Year. Celebrated at the second new moon following the Winter Solstice, Chinese New Year is also known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival. This is because according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, this festival marks the end of winter and the beginning of a long-awaited spring! Using the Chinese Zodiac, 2021 is the Year of the Ox. So what does this Year of the Ox have in store for us? And will it be better than 2020?

The Year of the Ox will be a year of endurance. It’s no longer just about survival but about anchoring ourselves and making our dreams come true. The Ox is associated with Yin (feminine, receptive) energy. Our responsibilities will feel especially heavy this year. Things that were once easy will require more effort in the Year of the Ox. Our strength is undeniable, but we still have to choose our battles wisely. We can do it, though!  Having come so far along with this pandemic, there is light ahead and looking after each other is surely the way.

In addition to the animals, the Chinese Zodiac also cycles through five elemental types. So this is not only the Year of the Ox, it is the year of the Metal Ox. Metal years bring out our most dedicated and persistent qualities and this being our second Metal Year in a row makes grittiness a priority. Overall, this is a year for recovering, making long-term investments or building a family, whether literally or with friends. 

ASIAN STYLE LAMB The recipe is for one but, as you can see, its all in teaspoons and mls so really easy to double up or quadruple up if you are cooking for others.

  • 40ml) kecap manis  (this is so delicious – like a thick spicy soy sauce – find it in the aisle of your supermarket for world food)       
  • 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped    
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • Lamb steak, cut into slices (or butcher gives us lamb saddles which are really thick so if you can’t get them, make sure it is the thickest you can find)
  • 1 tablespoons sesame oil                
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into thin wedges
  • leftover cooked rice – amount to suit you!
  • pak choi, chopped
  • 2-3 spring onions, thinly sliced on an angle

Combine kecap, five spice, half the garlic and 1 teaspoon ginger in a shallow dish. Add lamb, toss to coat, then marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Remove lamb from bowl, reserving marinade. Cook lamb for 3 minutes each side for medium-rare, or until done to your liking. Remove to a plate, cover with foil and rest while you make the fried rice. Add remaining oil to same pan. Cook onion with remaining garlic and ginger, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until onion colours slightly. Add marinade and allow to bubble for 1-2 minutes, then add rice and heat through for 2-3 minutes, stirring. Toss through pak choi and sesame. Slice lamb thickly, then serve in bowls on rice. Top with spring onion.

BANANA ICE CREAM

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Peel and slice the bananas into 1cm/½in pieces. Place in a single layer on the tray and freeze for 4–6 hours until solid, or overnight. (If not using immediately, transfer to a lidded container and return to the freezer for up to a month before using.)

To make the ice cream, tip the frozen bananas into a sturdy food processor. Blend on the pulse setting until the bananas become finely chopped, then whizz into a very thick, creamy purée. The ice cream should form a soft ball. Spoon into dessert dishes and eat just as it is, or top with berries, chocolate drops or anything you fancy, such as the chocolate sauce in the tips. If not serving all the ice cream at once, transfer the leftover ice cream as quickly as possible into a lidded container and freeze for up to 2 weeks. When frozen like this you can use an icecream scoop to spoon into bowls.

Hot chocolate sauce topping, very gently melt 50g/1¾oz roughly chopped chocolate with 100ml/3½fl oz double cream in a small pan, stirring regularly. Keep warm while the ice cream is made and served. Drizzle the chocolate over the ice cream and eat immediately. Crushed berries topping, put hulled and halved strawberries and raspberries in a small bowl and crush lightly with a fork. Add a few fresh blueberries and toss lightly. Stir in 1 tablespoon caster sugar and leave to stand while the ice cream is made and served. Banoffee topping, crumble digestive biscuits into four dessert dishes, top with spoonfuls of banana ice cream, drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with grated chocolate or roughly broken flaked chocolate.

Asian-style lamb on sesame fried rice

Sending a Hug

Hug Line Drawing Print, Friendship Print, Female Friends Hugging, Line  Drawn Art, Black White Minimalist Wall Art, Girls Friendship Line Art in  2020 | Drawings of friends, Friends illustration, Line art drawings

It’s raining. It’s grey. It’s miserable. We are in a third lockdown. Haven’t seen family for ages. Haven’t seen anyone for ages, let alone a hug. So I’m sending you a virtual one, in the hope an end is in sight and the sky will be blue again, sun will shine and a summer of parties to plan.

In the meantime, we are all in need of a pick up, I think, and for me, it will be going into the kitchen and cooking. I know I am lucky to have The Husband to cook for and many of you are on your own but that doesn’t mean you can’t be kind to yourself and have a lovely dinner to look forward to. You can even be kind to your neighbour down the road, cook for two and leave on their doorstep – you will be helping them and yourself . Comfort food can be healthy too as I hope you will find the following so not only are you being kind to your mind and your neighbour but also your body – who told you couldn’t multi-task?! Shake out your aprons, put some bright lipstick on (works for me!) and smile – you’ll find it will get easier as the day goes on.

CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP – the most classic of comfort food. This serves 2 – so your neighbour is in luck!

Pour the stock into a pan and add the chicken breast, ginger and garlic. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, partly cover and simmer for 20 mins, until the chicken is tender. Put the chicken on a board and shred into bite-size pieces using a couple of forks. Return the chicken to the stock with the noodles, sweetcorn, mushrooms, spring onion and soy sauce. Simmer for 3-4 mins until the noodles are tender. Ladle into two bowls and scatter over the remaining spring onion, mint or basil leaves and chilli, if using. Serve with extra soy sauce.

SAUCY BEAN BAKED EGGS – I do understand not everyone feels like cooking but everyone does have to eat so make these five-ingredient baked eggs with tomatoes and beans using storecupboard staples. It’s a quick, easy, tasty and healthy dish for one.

Tip the tomatoes and bean salad into an ovenproof frying pan or shallow flameproof casserole dish. Simmer for 10 mins, or until reduced. Stir in the spinach and cook for 5 mins more until wilted. Heat the grill to medium. Make two indentations in the mixture using the back of a spoon, then crack one egg in each. Nestle the ham in the mixture, then grill for 4-5 mins, or until the whites are set and the yolks runny. Serve with crusty bread, if you like.

Saucy bean baked eggs in a pan

Where would we be with out Chocolate – the ultimate feel good food? Here is a really easy pudding – up to you if you want to share!

CHOCOLATE DELICE

  • 200g dark chocolate (cooking or posh) 
  • 1/pt single cream (if you only have double use that with half milk)
  • 1 egg

Break up the chocolate in a bowl.  Bring the cream to a boil and pour over.  Whizz till all melted and add the egg to blend.  Pour into individual dishes and put in fridge till ready. Find a quiet corner with your book, take a teaspoon and enjoy.

I usually post a little video of a song for the month- but changing it all today as this is my very favourite Happy Song – definitely one to dance around the kitchen to – or to do the exercise you know you should do!

Pharrell – Happy – Worldwide Compilation #HappyDay – YouTube

Chicken noodle soup in bowls with spoons

Sweet treats . . . .

Christmas just isn’t going to be the same for so many of us this year. It isn’t Christmas, per se, but the meeting up of family, being with the people you love and the ones who love you most.  It has been such a difficult time  – I, personally, have see my children and grand children only a tiny amount of what I would normally – and we were all looking forward to finally being together. Let us try to be the best we can with whoever we can – and to look out for those that will find it even harder than we do.

Recipes for today are for treats – yourself, friends, neighbours – to share as you will.  Being Christmas (and particularly now) they are obviously completely calorie free!

GRANNY’S TREACLE TOFFEE – this was made when one of us had a sore throat to suck – so completely medicinal! Take care to suck, though, as the Husband broke a crown on it chewing!

  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 100 grams butter
  • 3 tablespoons treacle
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar

Put everything into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Keep on a rolling boil (I keep a wooden spoon in it so it doesn’t over boil).  It is ready when a small spoonful goes hard when dropped into a bowl of cold water.  Pour into a greased baking tin (BE CAREFUL AS ITS VERY HOT AND WILL BURN YOUR SKIN).  Allow to harden, turn tin over and tap till it drops out.  Keep in a airproof tin or tupperware.

SCOTTISH TABLET (English fudge) My best (oldest (in years of knowing!) friend, Sandra, gave me this recipe – its incredibly easy and even a non-Scot can make it!

  • 150ml evaporated milk
  • 150ml water
  • 75g butter
  • 450g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teasp vanilla essence
  • Butter a 7 inch shallow tin. Put milk, water, sugar and butter in a saucepan and heat through slowly until the sugar has dissolved. The boil steadily for about 10 k- 15 minutes stirring constantly. Test by dropping into a cold glass of water and is ready when you can roll it between your fingers. Take off the heat and add vanilla essence. Cool slightly then beat until the mixture starts to thicken and crystalise. Pour into tin and leave to set. Mark into squares and keep in an airtight tin (it won’t be there for long!)

For the ultimate comfort drink, there will always be HOT CHOCOLATE – here are a couple of festive additions – obviously for more than one but why not make a batch, keep (a lot) for yourself and leave a warming cup on your neighbour’s doorstep?

MULLED WINE HOT CHOCOLATE

  • red wine 300ml
  • cinnamon stick 1
  • star anise 2
  • cloves 4
  • allspice berries 6
  • demerara sugar 2 tbsp
  • whole milk 500ml
  • dark chocolate chips or dark chocolate 150g
  • Pour the red wine into a pan and add the cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, allspice berries and demerara sugar. Heat gently and simmer for 10 minute. In a separate pan, heat the milk, then gradually whisk in the dark chocolate. Strain the red wine into the chocolate pan and stir. Serve in small glasses or cups with extra cinnamon stick stirrers.

LUXURY HOT CHOCOLATE – with lots of topping suggestions!

  • cocoa powder 3 tbsp
  • whole milk 1.5 litres
  • demerara sugar 3 tbsp, plus extra to taste
  • dark chocolate 100g, chopped
  • vanilla extract 1 tsp
  • single cream 150ml
  • Put the cocoa in a large bowl or jug and mix in enough cold milk to make a smooth paste. Put the rest of the milk in a pan and bring to a simmer. Whisk the milk into the cocoa paste until everything is incorporated then pour back into the pan. Add the sugar, chopped chocolate, vanilla and cream, and heat gently, stirring until everything is combined. Sweeten with extra demerara sugar to your liking.
  • TOPPINGS – dark rum, whisky, brandy, Disaronno or Baileys / squirty cream / Cadbury flake /cinnamon sticks/ ground cinnamon / chocolate chips / mini marshmallo /fudge chunks
Red Wine Hot Chocolate Recipe

Music from the Master – never has the words seemed so true!

Have yourself a merry little Christmas – Frank Sinatra – YouTube

Wishing you all the best Christmas you can – and looking forward to Happy New Year!

A little extra . . .

Here, in England, we all thought come 2 December we would be out of our lockdown and at least be able to mix with a few friends in our homes.  However, it is not to be and time crawls on towards a vaccine and freedom!

So I just thought I would post a little extra to this week’s blog and give you a very quick and easy recipe my lovely son-in-law, Ben, sent me.  It’s a little bit of frivolous nothing – but what’s wrong with that today?  

Big Ben’s Ice Cream (it’s in measures so you can make as much or little as you like, just keep in proportion)

  • A measure of mascarpone
  • A measure of yogurt
  • a big squeeze of golden syrup
  • a big squeeze of honey
  • a little sprinkling of salt

Mix it all up together in an ice cream maker or freeze, churning every half hour till soft.

He says it’s brilliant with fruit salad, chopped pistachios and fresh mint. Best thing is that it doesn’t last well in the freezer – so just make and eat it ALL. Sharing is not obligatory!

Vanilla ice-cream with fruit salad dressing recipe Recipe | Good Food