Tuesday, 30 September 2008

British Food Fortnight - Yorkshire Parkin

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I'm a little ahead of myself as Parkin is traditionally served for Bonfire Night on the 5th November, but I thought I'd blog about Parkin now as it fits perfectly into the British Food Fortnight Challenge and Competition, hosted by Amanda at Food, Glorious Food. Also, I like Parkin at any time during autumn and winter and think it'd be a shame to just limit it to Bonfie Night.

Parkin is a ginger cake that comes from the North of England, and is especially associated with Yorkshire. Often it is moist and sticky, but there are also drier variations. Another great thing about it is that it keeps really well, and some people even prefer eating it after it's sat for a few days.

Yorkshire Parkin
(makes 1 cake)

125 g butter or lard
125 g golden syrup
125 g black treacle
125 g sugar
250 g plain flour
250 g medium oatmeal
1 pinch salt
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 150°C/Gas 2/300°F and grease an oven proof dish, approx 10x10 or equivalent.

Place the butter, golden syrup, treacle and sugar in a pan and place it over a very low heat, stirring constantly until all the sugar is dissolved.

In a bowl sift together flour, oatmeal, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter mixture, beat until everything is comkbined.

When combined add the egg and mix until you have a smooth soft batter.

If the batter seems to be stiff add 1tbsp of milk.

Pour into the greased oven dish and bake 50-60 minutes in the top half of your oven.

Allow to cool before removing and cut into squares.

The Parkin will last a a couple of weeks if you store it in an airtight cake tin.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Anybody for a Hot Lemon?

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This is the second time this month that I've come down with a cold. Either it means I'm pretty run down, or more likely, that I've caught Freshers' Flu. With all the students arriving back, there are just too many germs around at work to avoid them all. Most of my colleagues are suffering, too.

As there isn't a right lot that one can do about a cold, I'm just sticking to paracetamol, hot water bottles and plenty of mugs of Hot Lemon. All the Vitamin C helps the immune system of cause, it warms you through and is refreshing at the same time and of cause it is always good for you, not just when you've got a cold.


Hot Lemon with Ginger and Honey (serves 1)

1 the juice of one lemon
1/2tsp-1tsp of freshly grated ginger
honey, to taste

Squeeze the juice of one lemon into a large mug.

Add the grated ginger.

Fill the mug with water that has just stopped boiling.

Sweeten with honey to taste.

Enjoy while hot!


Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Some Housekeeping

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I've been feeling very flattered this last couple of weeks as I have been given three awards, but I just haven't had time to blog about it or to think about who I'd like to pass them on to and it's about time I did it.

So, without further ado I'd like to thank Jan from What Do I Want to Cook Today? for awarding me with the 'Perfect Blend of Friendship Award'. Thank you, Jan and I'm still hoping that we'll manage to meet up some day!


I'd like to pass this award on to Melissa from It's Melissa's Kitchen, because she was one of the first people to stop by here frequently, leaving encouraging comments and I feel that I have to make up for neglecting to regularly stop by her blog a little lately as I've had so little time!

The second thank you goes to Jan again, but also to Nina of My Easy Cooking for passing on the Brillante Weblog on to me.


1. When you receive a diamond, make a post about it on your blog.
2. Name the blogger from whom you received it.
3. Award the diamonds to seven other bloggers.
4. Link them.
5. Tell them they received an award.

I would like to pass this on to (in no particular order):

Gareth and Amy from Operation Night Brace
Fred and Ginger at Dinner Diary
Annie at Annie's Eats
Sam at Antics of a Cycling Cook
Val at More than Burnt Toast
Gloria at Canela Kitchen
Wendy at A Wee Bit of Cooking

Monday, 22 September 2008

It ain't looking that pretty...

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...but it makes up for it in taste. I was thinking of stealing Deborah's Bad Photo Sunday idea for the post about this dish. On Sunday's she blogs about those recipe that taste good but are not very photogenic on her blog Taste and Tell. My Vegetable and Potato Bake is definitely one of those.

I cooked it during my recent trip to Germany at my mum and dad's house. On Friday mornings my mum volunteers in a Residential Care Home, reading to the residents from the local newspaper and generally having a chat about stuff going on in the area. So she asked me if I'd mind cooking that day, so she wouldn't have to do it when she got back. Of course she knew I'd happily oblige and so I started looking for recipes, because I quickly realised that a lot of the things I cook without using a recipe would not really be to my parents' taste as my dad doesn't like garlic and both of them are not into spicy food either, plus I didn't want to go shopping for tons of ingredients and use some of the veg from my mum's garden.


After a while trawling the internet, I found a recipe that looked somewhat promising on chefkoch.de, a German food website. Best of all, it meant I could get fresh onions, carrots and potatoes from the garden and only had to buy the broccoli and meat. The outcome actually surprised me. Even though I thought the recipe sounded okay, I chose it more for my mum and dad's taste buds than my own, but I have to say I enjoyed it a lot and thought it well worth sharing. The original German recipe can be found here, oh and here's also the bad photo before I forget it:


Vegetable and Potato Bake (serves 4)

1lb potatoes, peeled, cooked and sliced
1 head of broccoli, cut into florrets
3-4 carrots, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 lb minced beef (ground beef)
1/2lb minced pork (ground pork)
1 cup grated cheese
2/3 cup single cream (half and half)
4 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp margarine or butter
2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper, to taste,
ground nutmeg, to taste
sweet papika, to taste

Preheat your oven to 180C/Gas4.

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil and cook the sliced carrots for about 4 minutes. Add the broccoli florrets and cook for a further four minutes. Drain, but retain about 1/4 of the stock.

While the veg is cooking, heat some oil in a frying pan and sweat the onions until translucent. Add the minced meat and brown well. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Stirr in the tomato ketchup.

In a seperate sauce pan, melt the butter and combine it with the flour using a whisk, until it starts to colour lightly. add the cream and the retained vegetable stock, little by little, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, nutmeg and paprika. Stir in 1/2 of the grated cheese.

Grease an oven proof dish and cover the bottom of it with the potatoes by overlapping the slices a little. Season with salt and pepper.

Next cover the potatoes with the cooked minced meat,top with the cooked vegetables and finally pour over the sauce.

Top with the remaining cheese and bake in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

A Good Start - Porridge

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I know a lot of people hate porridge, thinking it bland and having a horrible consistency, but I also know plenty of people who love it as a great way to start a day. I used to be one of the former, but have been converted to become one of the latter.

Of course there are many of different ways of making porridge, starting with your choice of oats, whether you use milk or water, salt or sugar. I usually use normal porridge oats and a mix of milk and water and leave out both, salt and sugar, but I add plenty of other things (most of the time as toppings after cooking) to keep it varied and interesting.


This morning I peeled myself out of bed at 6.30am to go for a run before work, when I got back and had had a shower, I really wanted a nice breakfast and since it wasn't particularly warm outside I made porridge to set me up for the day. It's not really a recipe as such, but as well as the usual mix of oats, milk and water I added a large pinch of Penzey's Apple Pie Spice and once it was cooked I topped it with mixed toasted nuts, fresh raspberries and some maple syrup. Well, let me tell you it certainly was not bland!


Thursday, 11 September 2008

Butternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

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Since last night the summer soup break is officially over. I love soup and it is getting to that time of year where the evenings are getting cold and dark enough to have loads of it. Don't get me wrong I'll occassionaly eat soup during the summer, but only when I eat out.

The last couple of days, since getting back from Germany it has been pretty miserable outside, so the weather combined with my cold made me crave a bowl of hot, steaming soup. While I was at my mum and dad's house, one of the local farm shops had a pumpkin and potato fete, which really got me into thinking about autumn and all it's glory, the lovely colours, the frosty and misty mornings, the still sunny days and of course all the autumn vegetables that are already or will soon be available everywhere.

Inspired by all the glorious varieties at the farm shop fete, I quickly decided that pumpkin soup would be the first soup I would make. When I went to my local shop here though all I could get my hands on was a butternut squash, so that's what I used, but if you have of a beautiful pumpkin why not use that instead. I also cheated and used roast pepper from a jar, as it needed using up, but you could easily roast your own at the same time as the squash or pumpkin.


As butternut squash is in season here in the UK in September, I'll enter this into Maninas: Food Matters' Eating with Seasons: September blog event. Go check it out, there are still a couple of days left to enter!

Butternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper Soup
(serves 3-4)

1 butternut squash
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 rosted red pepper, chopped
1 inch of fresh ginger, grated
1 red chili, desseded and chopped finely
1- 1 1/4 litre vegetable stock
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Cut your butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds with a spoon.

Drizzle with a little olive oil and place in a baking tray in an oven at 200C/Gas 5 for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the flesh is soft.

In the meantime heat a little oil in a large, heavy-based pan and sweat the onions until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the pepper, ginger, chili and half of the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Once the butternut squash or pumpkin is done, scoop out all the soft flesh and add to the pan. Puree, using a stick blender until smooth and add the rest of the stock until you get your desired thickness.

Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes.

Serve with some fresh, crusty bread.


Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Returning from Germany with a Dutch Recipe - Fillet Bake Amsterdam

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I got back from Germany yesterday morning. After only a few hours sleep I caught an early flight back to the UK, got in a taxi, dropped my suitcase off at my flat and went straight into work. On top of all that I've been coming down with a cold the last couple of days. So, needless to say I wasn't much in the mood for cooking last night and just shoved a pizza into the oven.

Luckily though I got to try two new recipes while I stayed at my mum and dad's house, so that I have something to blog about. This first one my mum made on the day I arrived. I have no idea why it has Amsterdam in the title and don't really think it is typically Dutch, but it was very good nevertheless and it's easy to make as well. I'd happily serve it to friends at in informal dinner. If you don't have majoram you can use oregano, you'll just need a little less.

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Fillet Bake Amsterdam (serves 4)

250gr ribbon pasta
150gr Edam cheese, grated
500gr pork fillet
100gr sliced deli ham, cut into strips
40gr butter
1 carton single cream (half and half)
125ml vegetable stock
a dash of white wine
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 180C/ Gas 4.

Cook the pasta al dente, drain and mix with 50gr of the grated cheese.

Place into an oven proof dish.

Melt the butter in a frying pan, cut the pork fillet into 1 inch slices, season with salt, pepper and majoram to taste and fry until sealed.

Place the fillet on top of the pasta and return the pan to the hob.

Pour the cream and stock into the pan and stir well, making sure that you loosen all the residue from the fillet into the sauce.

Bring to a simmer and cook until it has thickened a little. Season with salt, pepper, majoram and a dash of white wine, before pouring it over the pasta and meat.

Sprinkle with the strips of ham and top everything with the remaining cheese.

Place in your preheated oven for about 20 Minutes until the cheese turns golden.

Monday, 1 September 2008

And the Winner is.....

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Drum roll please.......the copy of The Irish Spirit cookbook goes to ........Maninas from Maninas: Food Matters is the lucky person whose name I pulled out of the hat (well, it was a bowl really). Congratulations!


Thanks to everyone for entering the give away. It was the first one I ever did, but I'm sure it won't be the last one on here, so keep on checking!

I'm off to Germany tomorrow morning to visit my family and hopefully I'll have a handful of new recipes to share on my return. I better get on with packing my bags!

Manina's, I've e-mailed you..........

I'll let you know....

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So the deadline for the cookbook give away is gone, thanks to everyone who entered. I have just made a list of all the people who entered and will draw and announce a winner later today. Watch this space.........