Friday, 12 September 2014

Slow Cooked Pea and Ham Soup

When I first tried this I was aiming for a stew, but got a very tasty soup instead. I've since decided that it's best as a soup anyway.

Ingredients:

  • One onion, finely chopped
  • Two carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 500g dried split green peas
  • 1kg gammon joint, a smoked sweet cure is best
  • 20g fresh mint

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients apart from the gammon and the mint into the slow cooker.
  2. Cover with boiling water and mix well.
  3. Place the gammon on top of the mixture, fat side up and top up the water so that it is mostly covered.
  4. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  5. Remove the gammon from the slow cooker and trim the fat off it.
  6. Use forks to rip the gammon into small strips and return these to the slow cooker and mix well.
  7. Finely chop the fresh mint with a knife.
  8. Serve into bowls, garnishing each bowl with a sprinkle of the mint and an optional spoonful of cremé fraiche if you have some to hand.

Serves 5 to 6 people.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Creamy Courgette Pasta

This is a quick and simple pasta dish that is a great way to use up some spare courgettes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 courgettes, about 500g, coarsely grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 225g dried spaghetti
  • 150ml cremé fraiche

Method:

  1. Put on a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large and deep frying or sauté pan.
  3. Once the pasta water is boiling, add the pasta to it and let it simmer for 12 minutes.
  4. While it is simmering, throw the courgette and garlic into the frying pan and stir every few minutes.
  5. When the pasta only has a couple of minutes left, add the cremé fraiche to the frying pan, season well with salt and pepper and then stir it until well mixed.
  6. Drain the pasta and then add it to the courgette mixture, and stir well.
  7. Server immediately while the sauce is still hot.

Serves 2.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Courgette Fritters

These can make a quick and simple snack on their own or can be combined with some other vegetables for a fuller meal.

Ingredients:

  • 3 courgettes, about 500g, coarsely grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp self raising flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Mix the courgettes, garlic and flour in a large bowl until it's all the same texture.
  2. Season the mixture well.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium-high heat.
  4. When the oil stars to smoke, take the courgette mixture a tablespoon at a time and drop it into the pan before pressing it down flat into a patty shape.
  5. Cook for 5 minutes on each side until nice and crispy.
  6. Remove from the frying pan and leave to cool on some kitchen paper while you cook the other fritters.
  7. Serve with cremé fraiche, mustard or a tomato salsa.

Serves about 2.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Blackberry Whisky

I'd never heard of this until I recently made a batch. It's a brilliant combination of flavours and a great reminder of summer in the depths of winter.

Ingredients:

  • Enough blackberries to fill a jar with a tight fitting lid
  • Some caster sugar
  • A bottle of cheap blended whisky

Method:

  1. Wash the blackberries and make sure that any bugs or green bits of plant are removed.
  2. Dry the blackberries with a paper towel and place two thirds of them into the jar.
  3. Pour caster sugar over the blackberries in the jar until they are mostly covered.
  4. Shake the jar a bit and then place in the remaining blackberries.
  5. Fill the jar to the top with whisky.
  6. Place a lid on the jar and shake well.
  7. Shake the jar every morning until all the sugar has dissolved.
  8. Place in the back of a dark cupboard and leave for 6 months.
  9. Use to warm yourself on a cold February night.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Banana Bread Cake

This is a great way to use up bananas that are so ripe that they have gone all black. You can also pretend that it's healthy as it has fruit in it.

Ingredients:

  • 150g butter, at room temperature
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten in a cup
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed into a paste with a couple of drops of milk
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 3 tsp lemon juice

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (160 degrees if using a fan oven).
  2. Line a suitable sized cake tin (20cm x 20cm or a 2lb loaf tin) with baking parchment and grease it with butter.
  3. Cream the butter and caster sugar together in a bowl until they are a fluffy and smooth paste.
  4. Add half the beaten egg and mix well. Once it has all mixed add the remaining egg (doing it in two steps should stop it curdling).
  5. Add the flour, baking powder and banana paste to the bowl and mix well.
  6. Pour into the cake tin and place in the oven.
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, checking when it is done by a skewer coming out clean.
  8. Leave to cool for 15 minutes then carefully remove from the tin.
  9. Once it is entirely cool, mix the icing sugar and lemon juice into a paste and drizzle over the cake.

Makes a 20cm x 20cm cake or a 2lb loaf.