What a bumper year it’s been for the currants – were having berried up green smoothies daily, there are lots in freezer which will extend the berry smoothie season and it’s looking to be a very abundant bramble year too. Last year we gathered quite a lot for the freezer as well as smoothie-ing them fresh. At least I thought we’d gathered a lot until I met a man in the woods with 3 huge bucket loads of them. He must have spent all day picking. Maybe for jam? I really want to try preserving in different ways this year so we can eat the home grown stuff in winter too. So we made strawberry jam as mentioned, and then moved onto redcurrant and rosemary jelly for savoury things. Inspired by the home baked blog, this mixing of flavours is beautiful! I used Delia’s redcurrant jelly recipe with quite a few rosemary sprigs thrown in.
Cooking on the stove this morning is Apple and Ginger Chutney from the Cranks recipe book with the apples from the bike ride heavily supplemented with ones from our trees and our own onions in there too 🙂 Adapted recipe on the sauces page.
We will have been married 20 years this year… which causes me to reflect how far we’ve come, how much the world has changed in that time and to note the two items above. They were given to us as a wedding present by friends who I used to babysit for and here they are still with us, I don’t think any other dish we own has survived that long! The Cranks Recipe Book sparked my interest at once, as I had eaten in their restaurant in London while a student, and it called to mind lovely brick walls and earthenware plates of hearty soup (they now have one restaurant in Devon).
It really taught me to cook, being the only cookery title I had at the time (bit of a change there then) in our first flat that we loved so much. I was fairly clueless when it came to the culinary arts. I remember phoning my mum at times with questions such as ‘how do you cook a neep? I can’t even seem to cut it up’. With the book I learned to bake bread, make cakes and the wonderfully frugal crecy plate pie, prepare soups and casseroles got put in the dish 🙂 It influenced me in more subtle ways too. Being the one and only it got thoroughly read and I absorbed the health oriented nature of the pages, reading for example, how much adding fresh herbs enhanced the nutritional value of the food. I remember the excitement of planting up a small herb garden and reading more deeply into these subjects. Looking at it now I notice all the cheesy recipes but you could just use any one of the many vegan cheeses available now or leave it out altogether.
Bit different when we first went vegan – a vegan cookbook obtained from the library that shall remain nameless (mainly as I can’t remember it’s name, I think it was somewhat generic, but also I do not want to slander it as it may have had other redeeming recipes) was responsible for me making a vegan cheese out of marg and yeast extract 13 years ago – absolutely disgusting, totally foul!!
As for the dish, it still gets used though not as much anymore. The odd apple/rhubarb crumble is popped in it. I now favour my big Le Creuset that you can cook on the hob and in the oven with – very handy for making a sheperdess/red dragon pie base in and just putting mashed tatties on top and then into the oven it goes. I am very lucky to also have two similar cast iron AGA pans/casseroles given to us by another friend who had them sitting unwanted and unused in his garage, and these are my 3 usual dinner cooking pans now.
We’ve always been blessed with friendship 🙂 I am currently reading Walking to Greenham sent to me by a wonderful woman and friend… a fascinating book and I find myself contemplating the larger worldwide changing of the times. What will the next 20 years bring?
Based on a Jamie Oliver recipe this, we just veganised! Extra pictures of the various steps below.
1 vegan sponge cake, thinly sliced up (see cake page if you need a recipe)
some jam to spread on the cake
1 or 2 tubs of vegan ice cream – we used Swedish Glace Vanilla
a small bag of unsalted, shelled pistachio nuts
a handful of glace cherries
some dairy-free white chocolate buttons or chocolate drops a bar of good dark chocolate
Line a round pudding bowl with cake slices (leave some for the base) and spread a layer of jam over them. Get your other ingredients ready before taking the ice cream out of the freezer, then layer it up. A layer of ice cream, a sprinkling of nuts, ice cream, cherries, ice cream, buttons, ice cream then the last slices of cake on the base. Cling film the whole bowl really well and use a plate to press down and squash all the layers together well. Bung it in the freezer until you want to eat it (can be made weeks in advance). Place in the fridge for about an hour before removing from bowl (may have to run outside of bowl under hot tap, being careful not to wet the pudding!) and pouring the melted chocolate over the top (it sets fast on the cold bombe). Slice up and enjoy
Triple Chocolate Variant: use chocolate cake, and chocolate ice cream and maybe even chocolate spread though cherry or apricot jam would be good too
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake:
300g Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
100g. caster sugar
100g of cocoa
2 large heaped tablespoons of coconut oil (it’s solid in this country)
1 small courgette or half a large one (yes you did read that right, it’s not a mix up with a pasta sauce recipe!)
2 tablespoons of golden linseeds
soya milk, rice milk or water to mix
a teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of golden syrup
100g walnuts (optional)
dash of vinegar
Mix your dry ingredients together. Melt your coconut oil (if in a cold climate!). In a blender combine the courgette and linseeds with a bit of soya milk until fairly smooth (doesn’t matter if some small lumps). Mix in the coconut oil, linseed/courgette goop, golden syrup and vanilla and beat until nice and smooth adding as much soya/ricemilk or water as you need for a good batter. Add walnuts if using and finally a dash of vinegar, well mixed in, before going in the oven at 200C/400F for about half an hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Pictured cake is iced with chocolate fudge icing and decorated with whizzers chocolate beans.
Chocolate Fudge Icing or soft chocolate fudge:
1 100g. bar of chocolate of your choice
1 tablespoon of vegan margarine
1 tablespoon of icing sugar
1 teaspoon of golden syrup
optional additions for fudge: chopped nuts, raisins, mint, vanilla or almond essence, crumbled biscuit pieces
Melt everything together slowly in a small saucepan. For icing: leave to cool, stirring occasionally. Once it reaches a good spreading consistency, ice the cake and leave to set completely. By now you may have completely made a complete mess, and for that I recommend some sort of cleaning service like TLC Cleaning Fargo for example or some sort of Anago janitorial services to clean it.
For Fudge: Add your nuts etc. if using and pour melted mixture into a dish that leaves it at least 1cm. thick. Set in fridge and then cut into squares.
Chocolate mint layer cake made by a clever friend who is generally good at making things 🙂 (recipe now in the comments below)
White chocolate mousse with red berries. Melt about 100g of cocoa butter and blend into a block of silken tofu with some icing sugar and vanilla…
…and a flower:
Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.
This is a traditional Middle-Eastern dish – can be used as a dip or a spread for sandwiches (fantastic combined with avocado in a sandwich). For a raw dish you can use sprouted chick peas in place of cooked ones.
1 can (approx. 400g)of cooked chick peas (or you can soak overnight and cook 1 cup of dried chick peas)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 – 2 cloves of fresh garlic
2 Tablespoons of tahini (sesame paste)
the juice of 1 lemon
a little water to blend
salt and pepper (optional)
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until fairly smooth – you may need to keep adding water bit by bit until you get the consistency you want. The 3 pictured are plain, one with soaked sun dried tomatoes added and one with lots of herbs from the garden (sage, dill, coriander, lemon thyme, mint and parsley). Made triple quantity of plain then divided into 3 and blended in the extra ingredients.
Olive hummus is great too, just add chopped black olives.
And for a scary looking sandwich: add a small, peeled raw beetroot before blending (carrot works too and is less scary). It gives the hummus a lovely, light, somewhat fruity flavour.
Cranberry, Orange and Ginger Sauce
3/4 cup/150g/5oz sugar
1/2 cup/150ml/quarter pint of orange juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger (or half a teaspoon of dried ginger)
2 cups of fresh cranberries
pinch of salt
Place the cranberries, orange juice and ginger in a pan and simmer for about 10 minutes. Give the berries a mash and add the sugar, zest and salt. Cook gently until all the sugar is completely dissolved. The sauce will thicken up as it cools slightly. Nice served hot or warm with nut roast or mushroom puff and parcel (on Yule page).