Tag Archives: spring

Hassleback New Potato Gratin. 

Love baked potatoes? Love potato gratin? I’ve combined the two here to make this simple, yet decadent dish. Perfect for this time of year with freshly steamed/sautéed spring green veggies tossed in wild garlic/nettle pesto and a large glass of ice cold white wine. 

 
You will need a medium sized oven dish that is also safe in the microwave. 

Turn your oven on to 200C and start preparing the new potatoes. Using a small, sharp knife, carefully slice enough new potatoes to fit snugly in one layer of your dish. I used 16 which fed four of us, generously. Slice in 5mm intervals, about two thirds of the way down the potatoes, leaving the base intact. Drizzle some light olive oil over the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Microwave on high for about 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are pretty soft and mostly cooked. (If you don’t have a microwave then you can, of course, bake the potatoes instead.) 

Meanwhile stir together about 150ml of cream (single/double) with a crushed clove of garlic, salt, lots of ground black pepper and some ground/grated nutmeg. Add a generous splash of white wine/vermouth and optional whole grain mustard and herbs (try Rosemary, bay or thyme). Grate in a couple of tablespoons of good hard cheese and give it all another stir. When your mostly cooked potatoes come out of the microwave, pour the creamy mixture all over them. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the dish is bubbling and the potatoes are golden and crispy on top. 

Not the most healthy Monday night supper, but certainly the most delicious one I’ve had in a while. Liz x

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Rhubarb infused with Sweet Violets.

Although rhubarb and custard is an unbeatable combination, I’ve been experimenting with floral infusions. Rhubarb and Rose works well (see my previous post on Rhubarb and rose, custard crumble cupcakes). I was inspired to use violets when I noticed them popping up in the garden. And I thought, well, when in season… Don’t worry, this not overbearingly Parma violet flavoured. It’s quiet subtlety lovely.

   

 

 

So here’s my recipe, if you can even call it that…it’s so simple!

  • A bundle of rhubarb sticks (I used about 7) trimmed and chopped into bite size chunks.
  • A splash of water (I used about 150ml).
  • Sugar or other sweetener to taste (I used agave syrup)
  • Freshly picked violets (or use rose petals and a small splash of rosewater? Or orange zest and a small splash of orange blossom water? Or freshly grated ginger? Or a teaspoon or so of vanilla essence?…)

Put the rhubarb, water and sweetener in a large pan over a moderately high heat. Let it start to bubble and fizz and then stir well with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until you reach your desired consistency, I like it mostly purée but with a few lumps of rhubarb  left for texture. Taste and adjust the sweetness to your liking. Then take the pan off the heat and add the violet flowers. Stir them in gently to infuse their subtle flavour while the rhubarb is still hot, but don’t re-heat. Let it cool and keep it in a container in the fridge to use for quick delicious desserts or snacks. My favourite way is with a lovely, thick and creamy, full fat Greek style yoghurt as a sort of healthy fool…sprinkle with nuts and some more edible flowers and you have a quite special spring treat! Or why not try it spooned over some good vanilla ice cream and serve with crisp shortbread biscuits?

Enjoy! Liz x

   

  

 


Rhubarb & Rose, Custard Crumble Cupcakes.

 

I adore rhubarb! I know it looks slightly terrifying to cook but it’s actually a piece of cake. Literally here. Today I decided to softly stew the rhubarb with rose and I can’t wait to eat the left-overs as a sort of breakfast fool with yogurt and chopped nuts in the morning. 

Rhubarb is great treated simply (as above), but what follows here is a bit of a special treat for you all. These cupcakes are inspired by rhubarb crumble of course, and by my much-used and loved hummingbird bakery cookbook. In particular their raspberry trifle cupcakes. I have used rhubarb purée instead of raspberry jam and my custard recipe, which replaces the traditional cupcake icing, is what I consider to be ‘proper’ custard. And of course it’s topped with a crunchy, buttery crumble. I hope you’ll give it a go this spring and let me know how you get on. 

   

I won’t give measurements here as they really are unnecessary. Simply roughly chop some fresh rhubarb and pop it into a pan. Then add a splash or two of water. Sprinkle over a couple of tablespoons of sugar (or honey/maple/agave) and cook on a moderately high heat for about 5-10 minutes. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until the rhubarbs starts turning to a soft purée. Taste and add more sugar/syrup to your liking. I like mine quite tangy. Add a couple of teaspoons of rosewater and a few pinches of dried/fresh rose petals and stir again. Set it to one side to cool while you make your cakes.

 

First make a quick crumble topping by chopping about 50g of butter into a bowl, add 50g flour, 30g sugar and 30g of ground almonds. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until a rough, wet beach-sand-like texture forms. Spread onto a baking sheet covered with baking parchment and bake at 180 for about 10 minutes or so until the crumbles are nicely coloured. Don’t worry if they merge together. Once it’s cooled you can just crumble it up again. 

Make the cupcake batter.

Put 240ml milk, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp rosewater into a measuring jug. Mix well with a handheld electric whisk.

Then in a large mixing bowl whisk 80g very soft butter, 250g caster sugar and 250g flour (use either self raising or plain with a tablespoon of baking powder added). Once the mixture is well incorporated and resembles bread crumbs slowly add the wet mixture from the jug whilst whisking well to combine. But don’t over-mix!

Divide the mixture into 12 muffin cases and bake for just under 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven (180C). I always turn my muffin tin around after the first 10 minutes to ensure a fairly even bake. Let the cakes cool slightly in the tin before carefully taking them out and placing them on a cooling rack to completely cool.

Meanwhile make the custard. Pour a 300ml tub of organic double cream into a small milk pan. Add 5-6 egg yolks (5 if large, 6 if smallish), 2 tbsp of caster sugar, 1 tsp rosewater and 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract. Bring it gently to the boil stirring continuously with a heat-proof spatula. Take it off the heat and whisk well. It should be nice and thick now but add a tsp of corn flour and whisk again over a gentle heat if you are having trouble. Pour the custard out into a nice cool bowl and whisk some more. This ensures there are no lumps and helps it cool down faster. 

Then assemble the cakes!

   

   

Cut little hollows in each cake with a sharp knife. Scoop out a bit more of each cake with a teaspoon. Then fill each with a generous spoon of the rhubarb and rose purée. Top with a couple of tablespoons of thick custard and sprinkle over some crunchy crumble. Enjoy! Liz x

   

 


PSBroccoli, Parsley & Almond Pesto.

 

  

My little lady has finally stopped throwing up but is having an extra day off school to regain some energy. To help refuel her we made this delicious and nutritious pesto pasta for lunch. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, pesto is THE BEST way to get raw food, packed with vitamins and minerals, into your kids, and yourselves of course! This particular one contains almonds – which are an amazing source of healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamin E, magnesium and potassium…amongst other things! Parsley and broccoli – just bursting with iron, calcium, folates, vitamins A, C, K… B1,2,3,5&6 etc etc… Lemon juice – aids digestion and is an amazing source of vitamin C…  This pesto is basically a super-douper food! Don’t worry too much about amounts and measurements. Making pesto is not a science, just pop what you have into a strong food processor, blend, taste and adjust to your liking. Cook some pasta and stir the pesto through while it’s still hot. Liz x

Ingredients.

  • Almonds – a large handful (I only had blanched in the house but any will do)
  • Garlic – one crushed clove is enough
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli – about 4-5 stalks chopped in half
  • Parsley – a smallish bunch, stalks and all
  • Lemon Juice – about half a lemon is fined, taste and add more if you like
  • Olive oil – be generous! Drizzle it in as your food processor is running ’til you get the right consistency
  • Salt & Black Pepper – to taste

   

 


Rice & Greens with Avocado-Miso Sauce.

 

Tonight’s simple and soothing Spring supper was inspired by my poorly daughter. Her new school comes with a bunch of new bugs to encounter apparently. We needed something plain and soothing to settle an upset tummy and this was just the trick. And it soothed the rest of the very tired family too! 

No real recipe as such… 

Just boil some rice (a smallish mug of rice fed two adults and two kids…add two mugs of water, lid on, bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer until all the water absorbed).

In the meantime make your avocado, lime and miso sauce by blending the flesh of an avocado with a couple of tablespoons of miso paste and the juice of a lime, add a slow dribble of cool water to the blender while it’s running until you reach your desired consistency…I like mine like a thick mayonnaise. 

Then sauté some seasonal greens in a little oil with lots of chopped garlic. Add a generous splash of tamari (or light soy sauce is fine of course, if you are not avoiding gluten) to wilt the greens, you may need to add a splash of water too. Then stir in a liberal sprinkling of sesame seeds. And you are done! 

Put the rice in the bottom of bowls, add the soy-salty wilted greens and sesame seeds and then top with a generous dollop of the avo-miso sauce. Put a bottle of soy sauce/tamari on the table to season the rice if you like. Some chilli sauce doesn’t go amiss here either.

Enjoy! Liz x