Thursday, 22 September 2011

Plum & Ginger Loaf Cake

Well, yet again this week has somehow slipped away from me! Col has been in London all week so I’m feeling particularly shattered – having daddy away did not go down well with the girls. Anyway, I was inspired last Sunday by my friend Emma who completed her first half marathon.  I was slightly embarrassed to be sitting on the sidelines helping my girls munch their crackers, while other peoples’ children cheered on their mums.   With my baby boy now three months old, it is time to get fit – it is the only way as I like food far too much to diet!
Nonetheless, my recipe for this week is for a cake...
I am very pleased with this one as it was a bit of an experiment.  With a glut of plums in the house I wanted to use them up and this cake recipe is definitely a tasty way to do this; and I think will be one of my seasonal favourites.  It is a lovely golden coloured cake and has a lovely warm autumnal taste – I hope you enjoy it.
Plum & Ginger Loaf Cake
6oz/175g Butter or Margarine
6oz/175g Self Raising Flour
6oz/175g Caster Sugar
3 Eggs
8oz/200g Plums (stoned and roughly chopped)
40g (around 3 balls) Stem Ginger in Syrup (grated) & 2 Tablespoons of the syrup from the jar
1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
Pinch of Salt
Juice & Zest of half a lemon
Preheat the oven to 170 oC (150 oC fan) and grease and line a loaf tin (900g-1kg).
Cream together the butter and sugar and add the eggs one at a time adding a tablespoon of flour with each egg. 
Fold in the remaining flour together with the salt and the ground ginger.
Mix in the plums, lemon juice, lemon zest and grate in the ginger.
Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 50 minute (although check regularly from 40 minutes).
When you remove the cake from the oven and while still in the tin, drizzle 2 Tablespoons of the ginger syrup from the jar over the top of the cake and leave to cool. 
I have been eating this as a cake; however, I think it may also be rather good with some custard and served as a pudding.

And that’s it for this week.  I am off on a wee holiday with my husband, children and my best friend, her husband and wee girl too.   Hoping for some food adventures and happy days!  Oh and I must tell you that it will be my second shot at the vintage recipe swap next week so watch this space...

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Hot Smoked Salmon Pasta & Lemon and Poppy Seed Bread

I must apologise for not blogging last week.  I was back at work for a week for a large exhibition and conference, a week sandwiched between both my daughters’ birthdays and one with little sleep thanks to my baby boy.  I must admit to thoroughly enjoying my time back at work, and despite missing my wee ones, sleep deprivation and being a logistical nightmare, it confirmed what I already knew, that I need a balance in my life that includes my job.
It was a week filled with press briefings, book launches, conference lectures and a surprise visit to our stand by one of the people I helped organise evacuation from Libya for earlier this year (who brought my two rather lovely scarves from said unstable North African state).  It was nice to be part of the buzz and to see a lot of hard work coming to fruition. 
With the birthdays topping and tailing the week, I had a lot of cake making to do ahead of the joint birthday party and spent every evening of the conference week making cupcakes (in various shades of pink) a giant butterfly cake and mini muffins.
Given my failure to post last week, this week, I will give you two recipes that I think complement each other nicely...
The first can hardly even be considered a recipe and is something I first made while on holiday on the west coast of Scotland after a visit to a smokehouse in the back garden of a fisherman in the village of Shieldaig.  I make it frequently as it is something even my fussy little ladies will eat; it takes minutes and is totally delicious.  Served with a herby green salad and some of my Lemon and Poppy Seed bread, it’s near on perfect – Yum!
I am very lucky to have a weekly visit from a “fishman” in a van who comes straight from Abroath (just down the coast) to sell his delicious fish, so don’t have to rely on pre-packed or long-distance fish and for this I am eternally grateful.

Hot Smoked Salmon Pasta
Ingredients (for two hungry people)
200g Hot Smoked Salmon
250g Pasta
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Juice of Half a Lemon
Simply cook your pasta as per the packet instructions and flake the salmon through it adding the olive oil, lemon juice and a good amount of black pepper. That’s it - told you it was easy.

Lemon & Poppy Seed Bread
This recipe is adapted and converted from a recipe I found in a charity cookbook produced by The International Women’s Club of Moscow, produced, I think, in the early 1990s.  I can’t remember where I got this book but can only assume, given its origin, it must have been through work. While the original recipe is for a sweet loaf and includes fruit, I first made my version of this lemon scented bread to have on the table with the Hot Smoked Salmon Pasta recipe above but I since discovered it is also very nice for smoked salmon sandwiches and even the humble tuna sandwich.  It is also very good for sweet French toast once it loses its freshness and for toast for breakfast with some Nutella.   You can also simply omit the lemon for a delicious white loaf.
Ingredients (for two loaves)
200ml milk
2 Teaspoons Salt
4 Tablespoons Sugar
25g Margarine
1 Cup (250ml) Water
750g Strong White Flour
1 Sachet Instant Yeast (7g)
Grated Zest of a Lemon
Poppy Seeds to Top
In a pan scald the milk, remove from the heat and then stir in the margarine, salt, sugar and the water.
In a large bowl, sieve in half the flour and mix the yeast in with a fork or your fingers.
Add the liquid to the flour and mix until smooth and elastic. 
Sieve in the remaining flour to make a soft dough – it is easiest to do this with your hand with a rotational motion.  If it is too sticky, add a little more flour.
Turn the dough out onto a flat, flour-dusted surface and sprinkle the lemon zest on the top.  Kneed the dough, incorporating the zest, until smooth and elastic.
Return the dough to its bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave for around 10 minutes.
Cut the dough in two pieces with an oiled knife and shape into your desired shape – I tend to use a double-decker pleat or a simple round.
Place on a lined baking tray, remembering that the dough will more than double in size.   Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm place for an hour to an hour and a half.  (With half an hour to go, preheat your oven to 190 oC  (170 oC fan)).
Mix a beaten egg with a teaspoon of water and paste the top of the loaves before baking in the oven for around 35 minutes. 

My little ladies helping to make bread - very messy!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Recipe Swap: Rabbit with Shallots, Whiskied Prunes and Leekie Chappit Tatties

Run Rabbit Run...
I am so excited to be part of a recipe swap, especially one that is based on recipes from a vintage cook book (I love old cook books!).  I am joining this project several months in, but it all began when Christianna at (all the way over in sunny California) discovered a book, All-Day Singin' and Dinner on the Ground, in a second hand shop. It has since accumulated a group of bloggers who each month recreate a recipe from the book – tweaking it to their liking.
It has been good cooking with a new ingredient.  Rabbit, despite being readily available here in Scotland, is not something I have cooked with before. With trepidation I ordered my wild rabbit from my butcher. I took my eldest daughter (nearly 4) with me to collect it from the butcher whereupon I said “I’m here to collect my rabbit”, she chirped “yippee we’re getting a fluffy little rabbit, and I’ve always wanted a rabbit mummy!” Despite that awkward moment and the fact that I had to remove shot gun pellets from my bunny, I have thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into recipe swapping and I hope you like my take on this recipe.
There are some fabulously talented cooks involved.  Please check out their blogs here, Lindsay, Chef Dennis, Mari, Boulder Locavore, Joy, Monique, Shari, Priya, Jennifer, The Cake Duchess, Pola, Mary, Jamie, Crissy and Lauren, Sabrina Modelle, Nicolle, Jacqueline, Linda, Jaclyn, Alli, Rachel Saunders, Lana, Emily, Alex, Shumaila and Barb

I must admit to being more than a little nervous submitting my recipe to this group of established and entertaining food writers but here goes...
The title of the recipe given in the book is Wild Rabbit with Vegetables.  I have given this a Scottish twist as the only Scottish participant (so far); I thought this might be fun.
I did some research into Scottish recipes for rabbit and many of those I came across involved prunes.  Prunes, one may think, are an unusual ingredient for cooks in the windswept wilds of ancient Scotland and more usual in California. However, they are a key ingredient in a famous traditional recipe - that of Cock-a-Leekie (chicken and leek soup).   I took this as my inspiration and hope you enjoy it.

Rabbit with Shallots, Whiskied Prunes and Leekie Chappit Tatties
1 Rabbit (jointed)
200ml full fat milk
Juice of half a lemon
100g Diced Pancetta or Smoked Bacon
1 Bay Leaf
1 Sprig of Thyme
250g Shallots
2 Teaspoons Honey
450ml Chicken Stock
12 Prunes
4 Tablespoons Whisky
50g Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
For the potatoes (Leekie Chappit Tatties)
1kg Potatoes (Maris Piper or other fluffy variety)
50g Butter
3 Tablespoons of Cream
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
1 Large Leek
Overnight, soak the prunes in the 3 tablespoons of the whisky, reserving the remaining tablespoon. (I used a speyside whisky, which tends to have more subtle flavours than the the Islay malts).
Remove as much of the silvery sinew from the rabbit as possible prior to cooking – this requires a sharp knife and some patience, this will prevent the meat from shrinking too much.
Measure out the milk into a jug, add the lemon juice and mix, pour into a sealable plastic bag and add the rabbit pieces, seal and place in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours.
Preheat your oven to 140 oC.
Remove the rabbit from the bag and wipe off the marinade. Dust the meat in seasoned flour.
In an oven proof pot (with lid), heat the butter and olive oil and brown the rabbit then remove with a slotted spoon. 
Add the pancetta to the pan with the shallots and cook for several minutes until the pancetta is browning.  Add the Rabbit.
Add 2 tablespoons of flour and stir it in well before adding the stock, bay leaf, honey, thyme, the liquid from the prunes and the remaining tablespoon of whisky.  Season. Bring to simmering point and cook gently on the hob for about 15 minutes before putting on the lid and transferring to the oven.
It will require to cook for 2 hours but after 90 minutes add the prunes.
Everyone has their own way of making mashed potatoes, but here is mine for Leekie Chappit Tatties...
Peel and boil your potatoes in salted water until soft.  Drain and return them to the hot pan but not directly on the heat.  Mash well and add the half the butter, and one tablespoon of the cream.  Mash together and add the remaining cream as necessary and season.  With a wooden spoon beat the mash until smooth and delicious.
Wash and finely slice your leek and soften for around 10 minutes in the remaining butter and olive oil.  Mix most of the leek through the potatoes, reserving a little to scatter on the top of the finished dish.
Serve the rabbit on a bed of the tatties.
(This would also be good with chicken instead of rabbit).
Serves 4

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner