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Mexican Bean Stew


Mexican Bean Stew

In an attempt to utilise what I had in my cupboards, this lovely Mexican stew was created - its amazing what a few spices can do to pep up some tinned beans! Make this the day before you want to eat it for the best flavour.


MEXICAN BEAN STEW


Vegetarian
Yield: 4Pin it

Mexican Bean Stew

A storecupboard mexican bean stew recipe
prep time: 10 minscook time: 30 minstotal time: 40 mins

ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 Red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 Red pepper, chopped
  • 1 TSP each of Paprika, Cumin, Coriander, Chili and Oregano
  • 1 400g tin of Kidney Beans
  • 1 400g tin of Butter Beans
  • 1 400g tin of Cannellini Beans
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100ml Vegetable Stock 
  • 1 tbsp dark chocolate , chopped
  • Coriander, chopped

instructions

  • Step 1: Heat the oil in a large casserole and fry the onion and red pepper until softened - about 5 minutes.
  • Step 2: Add the spices, beans, tomatoes and stock, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Step 3: Stir in chocolate until melted and sprinkle over the coriander before serving.


WHY NOT TRY MY CREAMY PORK AND DILL MEATBALLS?

Beth Sachs
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Plum Flapjacks


Plum Flapjacks

These sweet, fruity plum flapjacks are perfect for using up plums from your tree. 


PLUM FLAPJACKS


Baking
Yield: 12 barsPin it

Plum Flapjacks

A fruity plum flapjacks recipe
prep time: 10 minscook time: 45 minstotal time: 55 mins

ingredients:

  • 400g fresh Plums, stoned and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 300g Golden Granulated Sugar
  • 300g Butter
  • 350g Rolled Oats
  • 140g Plain Flour
  • 3 TBSP Golden Syrup

instructions

  • Step 1: Heat oven to 180°c and grease a 20cm square cake tin. Toss the plums with the cinnamon, 50g of the sugar and set aside.
  • Step 2: Melt the butter and syrup in a pan over a low heat. In a large bowl combine the flour, oats and remaining sugar.
  • Step 3: Pour the butter mix into the dry ingredients and combine.
  • Step 4: Press half the mix into the tin, spread the plums on top and then add the remaining flapjack mix. Press down firmly and bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes.


WHY NOT TRY MY GOLDEN SYRUP AND OAT COOKIES?

Beth Sachs
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Sausagemeat and Bramley Apple Stuffing


Stuffing

I've been experimenting with stuffing over the last few weeks and thought I'd post my favourite concoction to date. The bramely apple gives it a lovely tang (especially with a glug of cider) and it would make the perfect accompaniment to your turkey.

SAUSAGEMEAT AND APPLE STUFFING


Yield: 6Pin it

Sausagemeat and Apple Stuffing

A sausage-meat and apple stuffing recipe
prep time: 10 minscook time: 40 minstotal time: 50 mins

ingredients:

  • 450g Sausagemeat
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Bramley, peeled, cored and grated
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 TBSP Dried Mixed Herbs
  • 100g Breadcrumbs
  • Salt and Pepper
  • If mixture is a little dry, add a glug of Cider

instructions

  • Step 1: Fry the onion in a TBSP of butter until soft.
  • Step 2: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mix thoroughly and then spoon into an ovenproof dish. Uncooked stuffing can be kept in the fridge for a few days.
  • Step 3: When you are ready to cook, preheat oven to 180°C/Gas 4 and bake for around 40 minutes - check after 30 mins and if browning too much on top cover with foil.



Beth Sachs
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The Scandinavian Cookbook: A Review



The Scandinavian Cookbook: A Review

I have to be honest I'd never heard of Trina Hahnemann before the recently published paperback version of Scandinavian Cookbook dropped through my door. My knowledge of Scandi cuisine extended only so far as knowing herring is pretty popular and cardamom buns are an institution (*hangs head in shame*!).

However, thanks to following some Scandinavian foodies on Twitter, such as Scandilicious and Scandinavian Kitchen, Scandinavian cuisine has really come into my radar in the the last few months and I jumped at the chance of reviewing, reading and trying out some new recipes from this beautifully presented book (a book which quite frankly is far too good to be confined to the bookshelf thanks to the stunning photography by Lars Ranek).

So Trina Hahnemann - who is she? Well after a little bit of research I found out she is a leading Danish T.V chef and food writer but her career started over 20 years ago when she co-founded a company that catered for the film and music industry on location in Scandinavia. She has since started her own company Frukostkompagniet, which runs restaurant and personnel canteens throughout Denmark, including Denmark's House of Parliament - Christiansborg.

In this book, Trina introduces a light modern version of traditional home cooking to the reader and for that reason it offers the perfect way into Scandi cuisine for novices like me. The book is split into 12 chapters mirroring the 12 months of the year and showcases the fresh and seasonal ingredients available. But don't worry there is also plenty of page space dedicated to traditional scandi baking too.

The book starts its story at the beginning of the year in January, at a time when most Scandinavian countries are in darkness for the majority of the day. This chapter includes traditional comforting bakes such as the ever popular Danish pastries (which look so unlike the danish pastries I know its untrue)  as well as recipes for Rye Bread and Spelt Buns. But, its the fish dishes in this chapter that lend a hand to beating the January blues. The Pan Fried Plaice with Potatoes and Parsley (p18) is one such dish as is the Marinated Fresh Salmon on page 20 - both so simple but elegantly fresh.

February has a comforting Lamb stew with rosemary mash that caught my eye as well as the all important Cardamom Buns, which  I have yet to make myself at home...but soon! March showcases one of the many traditional Smorrebrods in the book, an open sandwich made with Rye Bread topped in this case with cods roe, a speciality at this time of year. The Yogurt and Wheat bread also looks like a must try.

Its all about Herrings in April, which are typically served on top of rye bread with  raw onion and dill. There is also a lovely light lemon mousse on offer and traditional almond cakes worthy of an afternoon baking session. In May I was drawn straight to the Rhubarb cordial and Rhubarb Trifle - I adore Rhubarb and I'm always looking for new ways to use it.

The summer months feature some fresh salads and fish such as The Fried Mackerel with Fresh Summer Salad - the picture alone makes me salivate! Berry recipes are also prevalent with offerings such as Redcurrant and Strawberry Smoothies, Fruit Porridge (which sounds particularly interesting) and a beautiful Strawberry Layer Cake.

Heading into Autumn and there is an intriguing recipe for Chanterelle, bacon and plum salad with blue cheese, utilising the wonderful seasonal produce on offer, a divine looking blueberry tart and a beautiful Apple Trifle. However its the Winter recipes that really inspire me. Meatballs in curry sauce would go down a storm with the kids in this house and the recipe for Mulled Wine would go down a storm with me.

The Swedish Christmas Ham, with a simple mustard and sugar crust would be perfect on Christmas Eve and my daughter already has eyes on the Christmas Cookies, especially the  swirl butter cookies (very heavy on the butter though!) made with vanilla and cocoa.

This beautifully styled book really has opened my eyes and awakened my taste buds to Scandinavian cuisine and is definitely a book I will be dipping into for inspiration very soon.
Beth Sachs
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Molton Chocolate Puddings



I've been looking for an easy warming pud to make for the Christmas pudding haters in our family (there are a few of them!)...and I think I've found it. These are so simple taking just 5 minutes to prepare and about 10 minutes in the oven and taste gorgeously rich and gooey. You could easily double the recipe to serve 8 if you needed to cater for a larger number of people and for an added seasonal twist you could omit the vanilla extract and add the zest of 1 or 2 clementines.

I promise you will be impressed by these!

MOLTON CHOCOLATE PUDDINGS


Chocolate, Dessert
Yield: 4Pin it

Molton Chocolate Puddings

Warm chocolate puddings with an ooozy middle
prep time: 10 minscook time: 12 minstotal time: 22 mins

ingredients:

  • 125g Dark Chocolate
  • 125g Unsalted Butter
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 150g Golden Caster Sugar
  • 35g Plain Flour
  • 1/2 TSP of Vanilla Extract
  • Butter and Flour for ramekins

instructions

  • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 200c and butter and lightly flour 4 ramekins (approx 200ml capacity).
  • Step 2: Melt the butter and chocolate in a microwave (do 20-30 second zaps at a time to prevent it burning).
  • Step 3: Whisk the eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla extract together until just mixed then fold in the chocolate mixture.
  • Step 4: Pour the mixture into the 4 ramekins and put on a baking sheet. Place in the centre of the oven for 10-12 minutes until a few cracks form on the top.
  • Step 5: Serve straight out of the oven with some ice cream or clotted cream.


Beth Sachs
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Easy Mince Pies ..... for the freezer


Mince Pies

Last weekend I made my usual batch of mincemeat and decided while I was at it to make some mince pies for the freezer too. The pastry is no effort and is made entirely in the food processor (although you can do it by hand if you wish). It produces wonderfully crumbly pies, with a slight nutty flavour thanks to the ground almonds.

You don't have to freeze the pies of course and I give instructions below for baking them straight away, but I like to get ahead at Christmas and stashing a batch of these away in the freezer, I am safe in the knowledge I am just 20 minutes away from a warm homemade mince pie. Perfect for unexpected guests.


EASY MINCE PIES


Christmas, Baking
Yield: 12 piesPin it

Easy Mince Pies

Mke ahead mince pies for Christmas
prep time: 15 minscook time: 20 minstotal time: 35 mins

ingredients:

  • 350g Mincemeat
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 75g Ground Almonds
  • 40g Caster Sugar
  • 125g Butter, cubed
  • 1 Egg
  • Milk for glaze.

instructions

  • Step 1: Butter a bun tin (you may need two).
  • Step 2: Place the flour, sugar, almonds and butter in a food processor and process until resembling breadcrumbs, then slowly add the egg through the feeder tube and pulse.
  • Step 3: Tip out onto the worktop and bring the pastry together with your hands, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 mins.
  • Step 4: If cooking straight away preheat the oven to 200°c.
  • Step 5: Roll out just over half of the pastry (I like to do this between 2 sheets of clingfilm so I don't add too much more flour to the dough) and cut out 12 circles and place lightly into bun tin. Fill with the mincemeat then roll out of the remaining dough and cut out slightly smaller circles to place on top. If you are freezing them, pop the whole tin in the freezer and when the are completely frozen pop the pies out of the tins and into freezer bags. When you are ready to bake them pop them back into the bun tins and follow the rest of the recipe.
  • Step 6: Glaze the tops with milk (use a pastry brush) and bake in the preheated oven for around 20 minutes until golden.



Beth Sachs
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A Slice of Cherry Pie: A Review


A slice of cherry pie cook book

As a UK Food Blogger it was with great excitement I received my copy of ‘A Slice of Cherry Pie’ written by the founder of the UK Food Bloggers Association, Julia Parsons.

Julia, who has run a successful food blog (also entitled ‘A Slice of Cherry Pie’) since 2006 and more recently set up the UK Food Bloggers Association to act as a community hub for like-minded foodies, is now officially a published author too (is there no end to this woman’s talents?).

Julia has been releasing snippets of the book on her blog in the run up to its launch and I, like many bloggers have been eagerly counting down the days to its release. Well, it finally landed on my doorstep last week and I spent a lovely evening curled up on the sofa reading it from cover to cover – ideally it would have been with a glass of wine, but due to the flooding I hadn’t been able to get the shops so I had to make do with a can of hubby's lager – which somewhat ruined the image of a dark autumn evening, fire blazing, feet up, glass of wine in hand, but hey at least the book didn’t let me down.

From being a long time reader of Julia’s blog, I already knew that using seasonal produce is something close to her heart and this strong ethos is carried through into this cookbook, which is split into beautifully themed seasonal sections.

The book begins its story in spring with ‘Cherry Blossom’ and I didn’t have to look very far for my first must try recipe. The Feta Cheese and Watercress Sauce on page 13 immediately caught my eye and had me salivating. Salty feta and peppery watercress bound together with double cream and poured over some grilled chicken….do I really have to wait until Spring? Staying on the cheese theme, the Baked Camembert with Asparagus Dippers (p23) is also going to be ‘post-it noted’.

By far the largest section of the book is devoted to summer recipes, Julia’s favourite time of the year. In the chapter ‘Sunshines and Lemons’ it was the Peaches and Cream Trifle (p42) that had me dreaming (and reminiscing) about hot summer days, al fresco dining and getting tipsy on Archers when I was a teenager – the trifle uses peach schnapps to drizzle over the sponge, I didn’t just randomly reminisce about drinking it. Over the page is ‘the’ recipe for Cherry Pie, although Julia herself concedes that she is not sure any cherry pie can live up to one in her head;

‘the one with crumbly pastry and glossy, jammy cherries bursting with deep flavour’



In ‘Poppy Fields’, picnic and barbecue foods take centre stage with recipes for Homemade Scotch Eggs (p62) which look gloriously oozy in the middle, Beef Burgers (p67) and the Parsons family Coleslaw recipe (P72) handed to Julia by her Mother in Law. Perhaps most decadent though is the Midsummer Cake (p56), a simple sponge filled with glorious summer fruits and whipped cream.


Throughout the book there are snippets of old blog entries, childhood photographs, famous quotes, lyrics to songs and extracts of handwritten notes, which together give us a sneaky peak into Julia's own journey through food and beyond. It is these qualities that give the book a uniqueness that many cookbooks lack - you really get to know the author and what makes her tick.

Back to the recipes and seafood lovers may want to skip straight to ‘Pebbles and Ice Cream’ where Julia reminisces about her childhood holidays in Hastings and more recently her trips to Whitstable for Oysters. The King Prawn Linguine sounds perfect for a balmy summer evening but it’s the Filo Crab Parcels (p84) that caught my imagination and sound just perfect for laid back summer entertaining – and it’s entertaining that forms the basis of the next chapter ‘Linen and Roses’.

The food in this chapter manages to maintain its simple seasonal charm but aims to impress your guests (which is a plus in my book). Desserts are especially prevalent with my pick in this chapter being the Rose Wine and Strawberry Jellies (p114). There is also a lovely piece on cheeseboards with information on serving and presenting cheeses and it is here where Julia highlights her own favourites – I’m with you on the Roquefort!

We finally get to autumn ‘Rain on Glass’ – my favourite season and despite Julia’s love of summer even she concedes that autumn is the most exciting and inspiring time for the cook. In my view there is not a more comforting autumnal dish than the Creamy Sausage Pasta on page 122 (which I will blog shortly). Sausages, onions, cream, thyme and stock, bound together and tossed through a steaming bowl of pasta – heaven on a plate. But it was the rainy day Fairy Cakes that took my daughters imagination and a recipe she has asked me to make with her soon.

The penultimate chapter ‘Wood Smoke and Roasts’ takes you through the quintessential roast (chicken, beef and pork), homely family recipes such as Toad in the Hole, Bolognese and Shepherds Pie and some lovely autumnal desserts like Plum Crumble and Baked Apples.

Finally, we come to Snow Flurries, celebrating warming winter meals like Chorizo and Cabbage Risotto, Bean and Bacon Stew (sounds yummy) as well as Christmassy offerings such as Chestnut and Bacon Soup, Christmas Pudding Cheesecakes and Port Glazed Gammon on page 191 which will definitely be on my table this Christmas Eve.

Above all this  book is to be treasured and enjoyed and comes bursting with fresh, seasonal offerings. Well done Julia – it’s fab!
Beth Sachs
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Turkey Bolognese


Turkey Bolognese
My hubby almost refused to eat this turkey bolognese...not because it used turkey mince, but because I served it with penne pasta. According to him, bolognese HAS to be served with spaghetti!

Despite this 'oversight' on my part it turned out to be a deliciously rich bolognese, not dry as I often worry with turkey. 

Turkey Bolognese

TOP TIPS FOR MAKING TURKEY BOLOGNESE

  • Substitute with pork or beef mince if you prefer.
  • Add more veggies  - courgettes would work well.
  • Make double and freeze half.

OTHER PASTA RECIPES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Turkey Bolognese

TURKEY BOLOGNESE


Yield: 4Pin it

Turkey Bolognese

prep time: 10 MINScook time: 1 hour and 15 MINStotal time: 1 hours and 25 mins
A rich turkey bolognese recipe using turkey mince.

ingredients:


  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 250g Mushrooms, chopped
  • 600g Turkey Mince
  • 1 Red Chilli, chopped
  • 1 x 400g Tin Chopped Tomatoes
  • 2 TBSP Tomato Puree
  • Glass of Red WIne
  • 300ml Chicken Stock
  • Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
  • Sprig of Thyme, leave picked
  • 400g Pasta

instructions:


  1. In a large pan, fry the onion, garlic and mushrooms (in a glug of oil) until cooked.
  2. Add the turkey mince and chilli and fry until browned.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, red wine , chicken stock, worcestershire sauce and thyme. Simmer for 1 hour on a low heat.
  4. When ready to serve, cook the pasta and serve with the bolognese. Chopped parsley sprinkled on top makes a nice addition.



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Turkey Bolognese

Beth Sachs
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Easy Christmas Cake


Fruity Christmas Cake

I finally got around to making my Christmas Cake last weekend. I was beginning to panic a  bit as I've never left it this late before. Instead of the usual pre-soaking of the fruits in alcohol, I decided to simmer the fruits in Cherry Brandy for 10 minutes, which meant I could get the whole cake made and baked in a couple of hours.

The cake is now safely wrapped in a double layer of baking paper and a layer of foil, ready for its weekly feedings of cherry brandy - it's going to be a boozy one! In terms of the decoration, this year I am opting out of icing and instead going to go for a simple apricot glaze (warmed apricot jam brushed onto the cake) with brazil nuts and candied fruits on top.

EASY CHRISTMAS CAKE


Christmas, Cake
Yield: 10 slicesPin it

Easy Christmas Cake

An easy Christmas Cake recipe
prep time: 20 minscook time: 1 hour and 45 minstotal time: 1 hours and 65 mins

ingredients:

  • 500g dried fruit mix including raisins, currants and mixed peel
  • 100g Glace Cherries, chopped
  • 100g Apricots, chopped
  • 100g Dates, chopped
  • Zest of 2 Oranges and juice of 1
  • 175g Butter
  • 200g Dark Brown Sugar
  • 100ml Brandy - I used Cherry, plus 4 TBSP
  • 3 large Eggs, beaten
  • 85g ground Almonds
  • 200g plain Flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 TSP Mixed Spice
  • 1 TSP Cinnamon

instructions

Step 1: Double line a 20cm deep cake tin with baking paper.
Step 2: Put the fruits, zest, juice, butter, sugar and brandy in a saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and continue to stir for 10 minutes. Leave to cool
Step 3: Preheat the oven to 150c/130c Fan/Gas 2. When the boozy fruit mixture is cooled, stir in the eggs and almonds then sift in the flour, baking powder and spices.
Step 4: Spoon into prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for 45 minutes then turn down the heat to 140c/gas 1 and continue to bake for 1 hour. Test with skewer.
Step 5: When completely cool, remove from tin and wrap as instructed in the introduction.



WHY NOT TRY MY WHISKY AND WALNUT CAKE?

Beth Sachs
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