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 panic, with a love story.
Cook the macaroni as per packet instructions. While the water is coming to the boil/pasta cooking, prepare the sauce. Melt the marg and cook the onion in it for a few minutes. Add the flour and stir thoroughly. Gradually add the milk, stirring all the time to avoid lumps (but don’t worry too much, they seem to be un-noticed in the final mix anyway). Add in the stock, mustard and salt, still stirring away. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and stir in the miso.
Put your grill on to heat on high. Drain your pasta (once cooked) and mix in the sauce. Place in a large oven proof dish and top with the tomatoes and then cheese on top. Place under the grill for a few minutes until it goes a little squidgy (a very specific and precise term)… yum.
Ripe just now, redcurrants are great to preserve for winter, given that they’re so nutrient rich and have immune boosting properties.
What a bumper year it’s been for the currants, both red and black. We’re 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 of those 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 brambles. 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.
Here’s the basic method for the Redcurrant and Rosemary Jelly. It makes a cloudy jelly. If you want a sparkling clear one, other, more time consuming, recipes will come up on a Google search. This pairing of flavours is amazing; the rosemary gives the jelly a slightly savoury edge, making it perfectly suited as an accompaniment to roast dinners. Also great in a sausage sandwich!
We picked 1.5 lbs/0.75kg of redcurrants and put them in a pan, stalks and all, with a few sprigs of rosemary. Then we added 1lb/500g of sugar, half a cup of water and the juice of half a lemon.
Bring to the boil, turn down and simmer for half an hour, stirring quite frequently. Allow the mixture to cool a little, though not until the jelly sets, and squash it through a sieve into a bowl. This is the hard work phase of the recipe! Press and rub it with a spoon until you’re left with mainly stalks and seeds in the sieve. Pour into jars of your choice. Cool completely before sealing/adding lids. Yum. This amount filled two medium jam jars, and should keep in the cupboard for months (if not years).
Cooking on the stove this morning is Apple and Ginger Chutney from the Cranks recipe book with the apples gathered on a bike ride, heavily supplemented with ones from our trees and our own onions too 🙂 Adapted recipe on the sauces page.
Ingredients: 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). Combine 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:
Ingredients: A 100g. bar of chocolate of your choice 1 tablespoon of vegan margarine a 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. Vegan chocolate beans are go again – from health food shops or here on Amazon
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.
This festive soup is such a bright and flavourful recipe, it would make a good addition to any Christmas meal!
Ingredients (for four): a little olive oil 8 carrots, scraped and chopped 1 large onion, chopped a stick of celery, chopped 1 small potato, diced small 2 inch square of fresh ginger, peeled and cut up 1 tablespoon of dried coriander (you could use fresh but it will make the soup go a bit green/brown in colour) 6 or 7 cloves of garlic, crushed or sliced (or even thrown in whole) a handful of cashew nuts water as needed seasalt to taste
In a large pan, fry off the onion, carrot and celery until softened. Add the potato, ginger, coriander, garlic and nuts and cover with water. Bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. Add salt to taste and then blend it all up! Delicious 🙂
These totally gorgeous spices were sent to us by Mettalife, an E-commerce Ethical and Vegan Marketplace, the perfect place to shop this Christmas and to support small business. The spices make up part of a Vegan Spices Recipe Gift Box from The Teaspoon Club. It comes complete with various recipes and all the spices and spice mixes needed to make them.
The Teaspoon Club’s ethically sourced spices are exceptionally high quality, the flavours that come through are rich and strong and far superior to the wee jars obtained in supermarkets. They also arrive in compostable packaging.
Mettalife have given us a code for you to use for purchases from their site. Just use FAMILY10 for a 10% discount.
The Butternut Squash Curry with Coconut recipe that came with the kit sounded absolutely delicious, but as we’re not the best recipe followers, we made our own inspired by it and will leave theirs to purchasers or receivers of the gift box 🙂 Here’s our Butternut Squash Curry, using the provided spice mix:
Coconut oil, 1 tablespoon
spice mix of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and yellow mustard seeds, 1 tablespoon
nigella seeds, 1 teaspoon
ground cumin, 1 teaspoon
ground turmeric, 1 teaspoon
ground fenugreek, 1 teaspoon
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 apple, peeled, cored, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 bag of frozen butternut squash, 500g, or a fresh one, peeled and chopped
1 tin of coconut milk
water as needed
1 and a half cups of frozen peas
salt to taste
Method: pound the seeds up in a pestle and mortar if you have, otherwise skip this step. Fry the seeds, spices, onion, garlic, apple and pepper in the oil for a few minutes before adding the squash and the coconut milk. Bring to the boil and turn down to simmer until almost cooked (about 20 minutes). Add the peas for a further 10 minutes of cooking and salt to taste.
This was so delicious we’re really looking forward to using the Chilli Spice Mix next!