Friday, 17 October 2014

This week in my kitchen :: Carbohydrate comfort and Speedy fig and berry desert

Did you see that in the first image? Double potatoes. Mashed and boiled on the same plate. Then the roasted ones with lemon and garlic chicken, and maple roasted carrots and parsnips.Then the  mini baked/roasted ones in split pea, tomato and sweet potato soup. Followed by even more mashed potatoes. This time with seasonal greens, pan-fried basa fillet and home made sweet chilli sauce (thanks to my lovely neighbour who made the chilli sauce along with other tasty chutneys with ingredients from local gardens and also treated us to some salted chocolate tonka bean and fennel chilli chips from here)

My potato craving could be down to the season. It definitely feels like autumn and hot-supper weather. Tractors temptingly pull enormous wagons full of newly excavated ones right past the front windows, just as I'm planning supper.

It could also perversely, be something to do with the amazing artisan breads made locally. I'd hoped for good fresh seasonal produce when we moved here. But really hadn't expected such great artisan foods. Like the wonderful salty butters, local free range organic chickens that are juicy and flavourful when cooked; but most of all the wonderful breads. 

The first couple of weeks we'd drive down to the bakery for moist, malty multi-seeded bread, dense peach coloured pumpkin bread or crunchy rye. I could happily eat fresh bread and salty butter all day long...nothing else. We'd try to beat the rush each morning as they sell out quickly and shops in this farming community open at an unearthly hour. I soon learnt to go early and buy two, one to freeze in case I missed out the following day. My sister-in-law came to stay and she, who rigidly sticks to a low carb diet and would rigorously eat meat with no rice or bread, tried just one slice, then two. That was it, she was hooked as well. She would be disappointed when we visited her in London if there wasn't a loaf of the multi-seeded bread for her in my luggage.

But then I had to stop. So I began to drive straight past the bakers window instead of dangerously dawdling. I now treat myself to a loaf, no more than once a week. That's when the subtle potato take-over must have occurred, and I hadn't even realised until uploading these photos. One carb craving has been replaced with another...I also noticed the number of bottles of alcohol in the photos too...Just gifts of course. I'd better take myself in hand and sort this out but in the meantime one evening's sweet craving resulted in this desert: 

Speedy fig and berry desert.

Ingredients for two people:
  • three dark chocolate digestive biscuits
  • two ripe pears
  • a few blueberries
  • a few raspberries
  • one fig
  • egg custard (there's a recipe here using just a split vanilla pod,  6 egg yolks, 125g caster sugar and 600ml of warm milk but you could use shop bought for speed. I have to admit to having an emergency can in the cupboard)
  • maple syrup
  • plum syrup
  • butter
  1. Crush the biscuits. I did this by placing the whole ones in a sealed plastic bag, placing them on the work surface and then bashed them with a rolling pin. You can just roll the rolling pin over them if you are more ladylike than me. 
  2. Place a big nob of butter into a small saucepan, melt and then add the crushed biscuits. Mix well and share between two desert dishes pressing down well into the glass; reserving a little bit to top with. Sundae or wine glasses are good for this.
  3. Peel and chop the pears removing any stalk or seeds. Cook in a saucepan for a few minutes with a little maple syrup or honey until tender. This will depend on how ripe the pears are. You could also add spices at this point if you like.
  4. Place these on top of the crumb base and then add a few of the fresh berries. Add a little more maple syrup and some plum syrup if you have any. I make this by reserving some of the cooking liquor when cooking plums in maple syrup for crumble or pie. 
  5. Top with egg custard. Slice the fig and place segments onto the top of each desert plus a few more berries, a little of the crumb topping and a last drizzle of either maple or plum syrup, or both. 
I can't believe how good this tasted and have made it a couple of times since. It has all the combinations of a great desert: crunch, chocolate, creaminess, fruit and sauce. Perfect. You can use all sorts of combinations. It's perfect for using up any overripe or flavourless fruit. Once cooked with honey or maple syrup (maybe even some spices) they are transformed into something else. The chocolate digestives could be replace with amaretti, ginger nut or even actual nuts. The possibilities are endless...

'A' has just informed me that he has major rice cravings...his carb comfort food of choice. I'm just about to make his favourite baghali polow...Persian dill, garlic and broad bean rice....I'd better watch out...

I'm joining with heather for this week in my kitchen...

...are you coming for a peek too?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

"me ol' bamboo"

For the first time in Corner House to curl up by the fire and loop cornflower blue yarn over those smooth bamboos. To let the needles slip in and out and pull the yarn through tiny halos.To watch as it grows into a perfect bit of the puzzle that will keep her toes cosy and warm. One day it will be this blanket. Until then they are  the pieces that make up the jigsaw.

I've had no time to read just now, apart from a precious stolen hour when I sneaked back to bed with Saturday's paper bulging with supplements and extra magazines. I greedily devoured the now old news, from cover to cover. Licking the bones for the last crumb of words that make up the world outside this life of mine...

Then I found this from this beautiful shop. My sister P bought it for me just before we moved. I read a few opening lines and then packed it carefully into the first box to be opened. Storing it safely to enjoy later. But somehow things got a bit jumbled up and the last boxes got opened first. Now I can enjoy this unusual tale...

Have you picked up your needles lately or read of lives unknown? 

joining with ginny and nicole

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Rosy again...Big skies Herefordshire...

Just for a moment the rose coloured spectacles slipped...Only for a little while. I think it was because I'd caught a horrible bug that made me very sick and tired for three days. Then the one room that actually seemed as though it may soon look habitable to normal human beings and not just to Stig of The Dump, had a few hiccups. The wood burner was installed, curtain rail in place, curtains that I'd made from a £2 bargain basement linen remnant were stitched, lined and hanging, the furniture up-cycled with a sanding and few coats of egg shell paint. Cushions plumped, shelves filled. All waiting for the rotten door to be replaced so the flooring could go down; and life begin again. Perfect.

The talented carpenter was all set to make the new door, he just had to remove the lintel to take a few measurements...That was when the crumbling beam was exposed. A builder called in, plaster taken off walls and it seemed as though everything was back to stage one...Even minus one. You've seen the pictures. That was when my glasses fell off.

I know that we are very, very lucky and that there are  people who don't even have a roof, let alone a bed and a shower. But for a while there, I forgot. 

But then I got better and we went for a drive and just look at those big old blue skies, even the grey ones. They are something else. Those spectacles are planted firmly back on this nose again. A bit of window shopping here and warm cake here helped...Oh and of course, great company..

hope you have some warm cake too...