Friday, 28 June 2013

# 362 Chocolate cookies

Please help yourself "virtually" to one of these delicious cookies.

This is another recipe from the book Fabulous Cookies by Hilaire Walden (remember my Crunchy Jumbles?) and in it they're called Double Chocolate Cookies because they're made with plain and white chocolate.  We don't like white chocolate much so tend not to buy it. The recipe you see below is the one I used.

I can tell you the biscuit box didn't remain full for very long as a certain teenager kept "taste testing just to make sure" ;-) Hope you like them too.

Chocolate cookies

115g unsalted butter
115g light muscovado sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g self-raising flour
75g porridge oats
115g plain chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 190 ºC/Gas Mark 5 and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat well.

Sift the flour over the mixture and fold in lightly with a metal spoon, then add the oats and chopped plain chocolate and stir until evenly mixed.

Place small spoonfuls (I used a teaspoon for this) of the mixture in heaps on the prepared trays, leaving space for spreading.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until beginning to turn pale golden. Cool for a couple of minutes on the baking trays before transfering  to a wire rack to cool completely.



Monday, 24 June 2013

# 361 Tyntesfield and Clevedon Court

My favourite piece of furniture at Tyntesfield.

"Tyntesfield is predominantly the creation of the entrepreneurial William Gibbs (1790-1875). Involved in the family firm, which had business interests in Spain and Latin America, from a young age, by 1842, when he was in his early fifities, William was in charge. In the same year, the firm's South American agent concluded the deal that was to make him a fortune, giving Gibbs and Sons a virtual monopoly in the shipment of Peruvian guano, then a fertiliser of prime importance."

Information from the book Houses of the National Trust by Lydia Greeves

"Home to the lords of the manor of Clevedon for centuries, the core of the house is a remarkable survival from the medieval period. The house was bought by Abraham Elton in 1709 and it is still the much loved family home of his descendants today."

Information from the National Trust Handbook

As usual there's a few more photos of both these properties on my Flickr account if you'd like to see them. Please click here for photos of Clevedon and here and here for photos of Tyntesfield.

Hope you have a great start to the week.


Thursday, 20 June 2013

# 360 Chicken nuggets

These chicken nuggets are a favourite of my son, so much so that I always make extra so he can take a few to school in his packed lunch. I serve them with white rice and a salad or steamed vegetables, they're also great for picnics. Hope you like them too.

Chicken nuggets

4 chicken breasts cut into strips (not too thick or too thin)

For the marinade:
2 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (add more or less depending on whether you want the meat more or less hot)
Pinch of salt
Dash of Port wine

2 eggs
Oil for frying

In a big enough food container with lid mix all the ingredients for the marinade. Add the chicken meat, cover with the lid and keep in the fridge for a few hours or preferably overnight.

In a bowl beat the eggs and pour breadcrumbs into another bowl.

Remove each piece of chicken from the marinade, drain any excess liquid and dip into the egg mixture followed by the breadcrumbs making sure the meat is well coated in these. Deep fry until golden on both sides and the meat is properly cooked inside.

Place the fried chicken on kitchen paper to drain any excess oil and serve as suggested above.



Pssst - If you scroll down the sidebar there's a list of all my recipes published on this blog, just click on the link to be taken straight to the chosen recipe.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

# 359 A walk in the countryside

I've been nursing a cold for the past few days and although it's not too serious it does seem to be taking its time to go away so my energy levels have been somewhat low.

Today however the sky is blue, the sun is shining and it's warm, perfect conditions for a long walk and that's exactly what I did earlier today but instead of my usual brisk walk I adopted a more leisurely pace noticing little things here and there along the way.

On a different note, do you feel self-conscious when taking photos on your walks on your own?  I don't know why but I do. I spotted the small snail above among the very tall vegetation by the side of the road, after looking left and right to make sure no one was about I quickly got the camera out of the bag and knelt down to take the photo and just at the moment a cyclist rode by! The same happened when I was taking the photo below, a FedEx van went past. Both times it had to be when I was on my knees by the side of the road and among the grass!

Hope you're all having an equally sunny day.


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

# 358 Wholemeal bread with black treacle

Some breads are best eaten while still warm from the oven, others are best suited for sandwiches but this one is perfect for toasting and I love toast for breakfast spread with butter and /or jam or with a drizzle of honey.

Wholemeal bread with black treacle

20g fresh yeast
320ml lukewarm water
300g strong wholemeal flour
200g strong white flour
1 teaspoon black treacle
Pinch of salt
1 cup mixed dried fruit (optional)

Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water.

In the bowl of your stand mixer mix the flours and add a pinch of salt. Make a well in the middle, pour the black treacle and the yeast mixture. Knead with the dough hook until all ingredients are well combined. Check to see if you need to add a little more water.

Tip onto a work surface lightly greased with olive oil and knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball, put back in the bowl greased with a little olive oil, cover with cling film and allow to prove in a warm place until doubled in volume.

Knock back the dough, tip it onto a work surface again and roll it out to a rectangle. Spread the mixed dried fruit and press it into the dough. Shape the dough and place it on a tin or baking tray lined with baking paper and prove again for about 30-40 minutes until doubled in volume.

Bake in a preheated oven to 220 ºC for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to about 190-200 ºC for a further 30 minutes.

To check if the bread is baked tap the bottom, if it sounds hollow it's done.



Monday, 10 June 2013

# 357 Yellow and green

It took only a few warm, sun filled days to make the surrounding countryside look lush and green although the predominant colour seems to be bright yellow from the many rapeseed fields and the beautiful wild meadows filled with clumps of buttercups, lots and lots of them.

I've been making an effort to go for a walk everyday as I think there's so much beauty around us begging to be noticed and appreciated. Besides what could be better than a relaxing walk along quiet country lanes.

On a recent walk I saw this fellow in the stream, I think it's a heron but I'm not sure and would love to know if anyone can help. He seemed to be fishing but not very successfully.

Recently we also had some visitors to our small garden. A few years ago A. and his dad built a birdhouse which has since been hanging at the end of the garden. It has been occupied in successive years by birds but we never managed to see them although we could hear the little ones inside crying for food. Last week we saw one of the parents and 3 young birds, they were still in the learning to fly stage so didn't even move when we walked past. 2 of them were sort of hidden in the grass but this one was perched on the flower pot.

The parent seen in the picture above was flying around keeping watch and got very nervous when I went outside to scatter a few bread crumbs and to try and get a few close up photos. I checked in a book and think this is a Great Tit, could anyone please confirm this?


Friday, 7 June 2013

# 356 Biscuit cake

This is one of our favourite cakes if not the favourite. The recipe is from one of my mum's old cookery magazines, so old in fact it's pratically falling apart.

This type of cake is very popular in Portugal where you're sure to find one of its many versions in almost any bakery, café, restaurant or patisserie.

Today I'm sharing with you 2 versions of the same cake, one requires some cooking the other doesn't but both are delicious. Also you don't have to but it's best if you keep it in the fridge especially now that the weather is warmer. Oh, and another thing this is a fun cake for the children to have a go at :-)

Biscuit cake

2 packets rich tea biscuits (you can use digestive biscuits if you want but I think rich tea work best)
250g caster sugar
1 teaspoon cornflour
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
4 whole eggs + 4 egg yolks
1/2 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons cold water
Bowl of strong coffee, unsweetened (approx. 300ml)
Large, flat plate for the cake

In a  stainless steel pan mix the sugar with the cornflour, add the whole eggs plus the egg yolks, butter, lemon zest and cold water. Mix again with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are well combined, then over a low heat keep stirring this mixture until you have a thick spreadable cream. Remove from the heat immediately and beat with a wisk to obtain a smooth cream. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

This process usually takes 15-20 minutes, the important thing is to never stop stirring as the cream may catch and burn. If at any point it looks like it's getting a little lumpy don't worry and just keep stirring until you have the right consistency and then remove from the heat and wisk energetically to make it smooth.

Dip each biscuit twice in the coffee (this is to make sure the biscuits are well soaked in the coffee but not to the point where they'll fall apart in your hands) and them lay them out as shown below.

Lay out the 2nd layer of biscuits like so. Don't forget to dip each biscuit in the coffee before placing them on the plate.

Carefully spread an even layer of cream over the biscuits, build 2 more layers of biscuits and spread some more cream. Carry on until you have just enough cream to spread on top of the cake. Sprinkle with hundreds and thousands if you want for a more colourful cake.

Instead of the cream made with eggs you can make a caramel buttercream as below.

Caramel buttercream

200g butter at room temperature
200g icing sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons Carnation caramel

Beat the butter and icing sugar with an electric whisk until smooth, then add the caramel and mix until well combined. Spread this cream between the layers of biscuit, finish the cake with a layer of cream and if you want top with crushed biscuits and salted peanuts.



Edited to add: In both these cakes the biscuits need to be dipped in coffee. Alternatively you can use café au lait but personally I prefer to use strong, unsweetened coffee because it helps cut through the sweetness. If you'd like to search for other versions of this cake you can use the Portuguese name which is "Bolo de bolacha" and use Google translate to obtain the recipes.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

# 355 May photo scavenger Hunt

Oh dear, I didn't do very well this time managing only a few of the clues. The photo scavenger hunt is hosted by Greenthumb from Made with Love and anyone can join in or, if you prefer, you can simply browse through other people's entries to see what they came up with for the clues given.

All of the photos below were taken on different National Trust properties we visited.

England's flag on the church tower near Dunster Castle in Somerset.

Map to Berrington Hall in Herefordshire.

Photo taken on a walk by the River Teign near Castle Drogo in Devon.

Berrington Hall.

Keys on the piano at Berrington Hall.

Lines formed by runner bean stakes in the kitchen garden at Berrington Hall.

The laundry room at Berrington Hall.


Sunday, 2 June 2013

# 354 Lodge Park and Sherborne Estate & Chastleton House

"The the early 1630s Lodge Park was commissioned by John 'Crump' Dutton [...] to indulge his passion for entertaining and gambling, based on the most ancient of pastimes, deer coursing. [...] Dutton and his distinguished guests would gather on the balcony above the portico and flat roof top to watch the chase, gambling, drinking and observing the skills of various dogs, in their pursuit of the deer."

Information from the National Trust brochure for Lodge Park

"Chastleton is a charming and unaltered example of the kind of manor house which must have adorned a thousand English villages, lived in by families untouched by high office and national events. [...] Until it came to the Trust in 1991, Chastleton had been in the hands of the same family for almost 400 years. Built c.1610-12 for Walter Jones, a successful wool merchant, who bought the estate in 1602 from Robert Catesby, the future Gunpowder Plotter."

Information from "Houses of the National Trust" by Lydia Greeves

I hope you're having a lovely weekend full of sunshine. We've been having great weather for the last couple of days, perfect for appreciating the beautiful English countryside and a couple of NT properties. If you'd like to see more photos of the above 2 properties you can find them here for Lodge Park and Sherborne Estate and here for Chastleton House