I seem to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen these days, and by and large, it is a fine place to be. There's nothing like a warm kitchen, good smells from whatever is cooking, Radio 4 in the background, and a pot of tea on the go. Making the most of what there is, in the garden, storecupboard and 'fridge. I have the very last of the tomatoes ripening on my windowsill. I'll give them another few days, then I will make more passata with the red ones and try some of Nigel Slater's ideas for the rest.
I am still picking beetroot from the garden, although the leaves are looking a bit wind-bedraggled now, and, I found a forgotten row of rather large radishes in one of the fleece covered beds - so Beetroot, Radish and Apple chutney was born, and a great combination it is too. I used a standard chutney ratios - 2kg veg/fruit, 500g sugar and 1 pint white wine vinegar. I thought some Chinese flavours would work well here, so added a couple of star anise, a generous teaspoon of ginger and a cinnamon stick. Very nice. Oh - and I cooked the beetroot on its own first.
I needed some cream cheese to make frosting the other day, and remembered how easy it was to just make it. Ok - ricotta is not quite as tangy as a proper cream cheese - but it did the job.
I needed it for these delicious little snowball cakes. The school is having a cake sale today in aid of The Philippines. After raising money for Pudsey Bear a couple of weeks ago, the children felt they wanted to do something specific for this disaster, so cake it is. The recipe is at the end of the post.
I have quite a bit of meat coming back from the butchers in the next couple of weeks, so I have been rooting around in the freezers, using up what is lurking at the bottom. Most of the pork has gone, but there are a few bits - mostly small pieces of belly and hocks. In the past, I have tried various recipes for bacon, ham and pancetta, but never with great results. After scouring the internet though, I came across this method, which is a wet cure, using maple syrup. I followed the recipe completely, including the smoking technique.
I love my stovetop smoker, I have to say (oh yes - I thought I might have mentioned it). So, anyway, after a couple of hours gentle smoking over crumbled peat, my hams emerged golden, glistening and delicious. Not too salty either, which was always the issue I had had in the past. I can't see these beauties lasting for long.
I have plans to do a corned beef tongue at the weekend too - yep - we know how to party here!
4 oz butter
4 oz caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
5 oz self raising flour
1 oz shredded coconut
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add vanilla and eggs,fold in sifted flour and coconut.
Bake in 2 sandwich tins at 170 C (325F) until a toothpick comes out clean - about 15 - 20 minutes
Make cream cheese frosting with
8 oz cream cheese
60 g soft butter
2.5 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Then - put frosting and cake into a food processor and pulse until amalgamated.
(yes - you are going to turn your sponge cake into crumbs!)
Roll out the mixture into small balls, lay out on a sheet and freeze for a couple of hours.
Melt 2 or 3 bars of white chocolate over a pan of simmering water.
sprinkle coconut onto a tray - add edible glitter and muddle it through to mix.
roll each cake ball in the chocolate and then round the glittery coconut.
(this bit is fun - like rolling a real snowball along)
place on a wire rack to set.
I ran out of chocolate before the end, so I mixed up some glace icing and they tasted just as nice. And they do taste nice - very very nice - and they look so pretty there, in their frosty coats.
The possibilities for variation are endless here - chocolate cake - orange, lemon drizzle, chopped nuts - chocolate and peanut butter frosting!!! I've just imagined a Christmas pudding one too - think I will do that for the Sunday school party.
I'll keep working on it...xx