Thursday, 31 July 2014

Blackberry Cake... longing for teatime

The Blackberries are definitely here.  The allotment is teeming.  I have persuaded some friends to come for tea, simply for an excuse to make a Blackberry Cake.

This is again taken from Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook.  Mine an adulteration of her Blackcurrant and Almond Cake.

200g Butter
150g Demarara
3 Eggs
200g Ground Almonds
Zest of a Lemon
1 tsp Vanilla
200g Blackberries

Cream Sugar and Butter.  Beat in eggs.  Fold in Almonds, Vanilla and Lemon.  Put mix in tin and scatter with Blackberries.  Bake 30mins at 180C.

I added the Lemon Zest and used less Sugar.  The aim is a moist, buttery, zesty, puddingy cake with the sudden bite of the first Blackberries.  Cream wouldn't go amiss.

Just longing for teatime...

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

It's time for... Courgette Pie!

The joy, as here we reach the height of the Courgette season.  We have had a month or so of perpetual grilled and barbecued Courgettes, raw ribboned Courgette salads... Now it's time for Courgette Pie.  I discovered the recipe last year, it is pure Grecian indulgence - Creamy, Feta-ey Courgette between layers of Filo Pastry.  Yes, I have been longing for the glut that I might have an excuse to make it once again.

This recipe is more or less that of Greek Courgette Pie in Sarah Raven's excellent Garden Cookbook.   Simply the only cookbook I refer to once the garden is growing.  There are, I know, plenty of seasonal vegetable cookbooks, but this one, which offers multifarious homely and worldly recipes based entirely on what is growing in the garden is quite my favourite.  (More on cookbooks anon).

Grate and salt 1kg Courgettes.  Allow to drain for half and hour and squeeze out excess juice.  Fry 1 Onion and a handful of Spring Onions.  Add Courgettes and fry for 15 minutes and until liquid evaporates.

Layer 3 Filo sheets brushed with Olive Oil on both sides in the base of baking tray.  Top with Courgettes and 300g crumbled Feta.  Beat 3 Eggs with 120ml Double Cream, add any Herbs you have growing (Parsley/Dill/Basil/Thyme/Mint), the tiniest touch of Salt and Pepper.  Pour this over Courgette mix and fork in.  Fold the edges of Filo over the filling then top with 3 more sheets of Filo, brushing Olive Oil between each one.  Glaze with Milk and scatter with Sesame or Sunflower Seeds.  Prick with a fork.

Bake at 200C for an hour or so until golden, and set.

Allow to cool for half an hour before indulging.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Blackcurrant and Windfall Jam... and Raw Blackcurrant Jam

Blackcurrant is quite the headiest of summer flavours, almost musky, a touch tart, the scent of the leaves alone risks intoxicating.  I long to make cakes and sorbets and all sorts, but, better still, to capture this flavour in a jar.

The winds brought down the first Windfall Apples, and I used these to add body, texture, pectin and tartness to the Blackcurrant Jam.

2 1/2 lb ripest Blackcurrants
1/2 lb grated Windfalls
3 lb Sugar
1/2 Lemon juice of

Macerate these overnight in a bowl.  Bring to boil in a jam pan, then simmer quickly until reaches setting point.  Pot in sterilised jars.*


I wondered a moment how to capture the raw Blackcurrant flavour, besides freezing, and remembered a recipe, again from Clare Island, for Raw Blackcurrant Jam.  This recipe uses far less sugar and has to be eaten immediately (or frozen) :

Mash Blackcurrants without crushing pips.  Beat until light.  Add sugar to 1/3 of the weight of the currants.  Beat again until light.  Pot in clean jars.  Use as jam  - not just on toast, but with yoghurt, pancakes, cakes, smoothies, on a spoon...


*To test for setting point, put a plate in the fridge.  Put a teaspoon of the jam on the cold plate, return to fridge.  Setting point is reached if wrinkles when cool.  Sterilise clean jars by putting in oven at 100 C for 20 minutes.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Redcurrant (not) Frozen Yoghurt

Ideally for this simplest of summer recipes, you have an ice-cream maker, and a freezer.  If this is the case, you coarsely blend 500g Redcurrants (or, even better, Blackcurrants) with 100g Sugar and one pot of Yoghurt, put this in the ice-cream machine, and when ready pot and freeze, for the most fragrant and fruit-filled of summer ices.

In my case I blitzed the Redcurrants, Yoghurt, a tablespoon of Sugar and same of Elderflower Cordial, dropped in a few Blackcurrants and we ate it as it was, tart and not frozen.

This recipe comes from Clare Island Yoga Retreat Centre, where they make yoghurt of their own Sheep's milk and are likely gathering their heavenly Blackcurrants as I write...


On the sugar front - need I say that in this and all sugary recipes those of you who prefer to use alternative sugars (agave/maple/date/fructose &c.) replace as you wish.  Note however, I do cut down on sugar, use unrefined varieties and bake on the tart side.  At the same time, I don't hesitate to express my sympathy for the too-oft villified sugarbeet. 

A new home... a new kitchen

Those of you that have followed this blog from the start will remember tales of Gardener's Cottage, where kitchen pottered into garden, and forage and firewood gathering were the order of the day, all against a backdrop of frosty winter fields.  Most of these, my former ventures, are still gathered here on the blog, please scrawl down, use the search button or refer to "best posts" and "archive".

I have since accumulated a husband, that baking boy of once-upon-a-time, a child, dear charming girl child, now nearly walking and expert at podding peas, a dilapidated townhouse and an allotment.  Today, nearly a year since I last posted I am relaunching this blog, to once again regale you with tales of la bonne bouffe - good food.  My angle will have no doubt changed since those romantic early years -  now all a-fluster with feeding a family, holding together a tumbledown home, and struggling to grow vegetables in a bramble strewn patch of ground...

Despite the ramshackle nature of the abode, Tom, husband, baker and (more to the point) joiner, has hewn a magnificent kitchen (shown), great ash work surfaces, deep drawers, shelves galore, these a woodburning stove, and giant gleaned sink, make cooking at Dow House utter joy.


For now news is: there is Blackcurrant and Windfall Jam in the making, and we are planning a foray to the local poultry auction.