Friday, 27 February 2009

Crunchy nut granola

I don't know about you, but I find most crunchy cereals have an awful lot of sugar in them and sometimes some other stuff that doesn't have a right to be there. So, I decided to make my own. It really doesn't take long and you can add whatever you like to eat in your breakfast cereal. I added some dried cranberries which give it a lovely sharpness.

125g butter
150ml honey
500g oat flakes
100g flaked almonds
100g chopped cashew nuts
100g desiccated coconut
300g mixed dried fruit, such as chopped dates, apricots, raisins etc

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas 3. Place the butter and honey in a small pan, anput over a gentle heat to melt together.
2. Mix the remaining ingredients, except the dried fruit, in a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter mixture and mix well. Spread out in a large roasting tray and bake for 25 minutes, or until the nuts and grains are a pale golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes so it browns evenly.
3. Remove the tray from the oven and leave to cool, stirring the mixture in the tray occasionally. (If you transfer it to a bowl while it’s still warm, it will go soggy.) When it has cooled down, add the dried fruit, stir, and put into an airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to a month

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The other man in my life

There's another man in my life who I couldn't live without. His name is Ken - Ken Wood. He's big, he's shiny, he's strong and he makes wonderful pastry and meringues. He can even knead bread.

He's a bit of a Swiss army knife really, as he has various attachments : mincer, liquidiser, dough hook and sausage maker. He stands 35 cm tall and has a 6.7 litre bowl - impressed?

I make pounds of shortcrust pastry and have tried all sorts of methods, but nothing does it better than Big Ken.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Tonight Matthew, I will be eating my own body weight in sheperd's Pie......

I slow roasted a whole shoulder of lamb at the weekend. We had it with roasted roots - including my sister's fabulous home grown pumpkin. The lamb was lovely - all soft and juicy. There was quite a lot of it left, so I got my kitchen boy to take all the meat off the bone and cut it up into smallish pieces.

I then sweated down some leeks, carrots and celery until they were just cooked and then added the left over gravy and a small amount of fresh chopped rosemary and thyme. I then added the lamb and chilled the whole thing.

It was then topped with creamy mash and brushed with butter. We ate it with buttered cabbage and peas and it was deeeelish. There are only two of us but somehow I always seem to cook enough for three (and sometimes four - it's the caterer in me) So instead of saving a portion, we greedily scoffed the lot.

Move along the trough Porky.....

Monday, 16 February 2009

Herdsman's Pasty Pie

This an authentic cornish pasty recipe, but made into a pie rather than a pasty - plus, because I don't live in Cornwall and it's made using the fabulous beef skirt from Woodford's farm it seemed more appropriate to call it a Herdsman's pasty!

250g Beef skirt sliced into small pieces
1 medium potato
1/2 medium swede
1/2 medium onion
(all veg should be finely chopped)
400g Plain flour
100g Lard
100g Butter
Ice cold water
An 8" loose bottomed sandwich tin

Firstly, make your pastry by rubbing the fats into the flour and adding enough water to bind it (approx 6 tablespoons) Then let the pastry rest the fridge for 30 mins.

Roll out 2/3 of the pastry and line the tin. Roll out the remaining pastry into a lid slightly bigger than the tin.

Begin by putting a layer of onion and half the swede in the bottom. Season generously with salt and pepper, then add the beef, then season, finishing with the rest of the swed and the potato and again season.

The seasoning of each layer is very important.

Pop on the lid and put the pasty pie in the fridge for about 30 mins

Preheat the oven to 180 C/Gas 4/Fan 165, then brush the pie with beaten egg and cook for 1 hour.

The smell that will fill your kitchen will will have you dribbling....

Alternatively, if you can't be bothered with faffing around with all of the above, you can come to the shop and buy some!

And here are some others in my repertoire....

Friday, 13 February 2009

Down on the farm

Here are some photos of the farm where I sell my produce - Woodfords Farm in Canewdon. They rear and sell their own free range beef and pork and have a mixture of cows - Aberdeen-Angus, Sussex, Hereford and Charollais cross. All the pigs are Gloucester Old spot.

I use their meat in my pies, casseroles etc. The beef and pork is nothing like the meat you buy in a supermarket. The taste and texture - particularly of the beef is superb

Above is Gilbert the bull, who is pure - Charollais - with one of his ladies and two lovely little calves. All of the animals are very well looked after, it's obvious that they really care for them. It's good to know that the meat you're buying has had a good life.
They also grow spring barley, its grain is rolled for the animals and the straw is used for feeding and bedding. Beans are grown for the main protein part of the cattle diet and some are sold mainly for export to the middle-east for human consumption. Milling or bread making wheat is their main arable crop.
There's loads of wildlife around the farm: pheasants, hares, rabbits, badgers, barn owls and many more wild birds.

For information and opening times of the farm shop go to

Well preserved

The Seville oranges are in season so it's time to make marmalade! Which means standing in the kitchen for hours, picking out pips and shredding orange peel into tiny little strips. It's well worth it though because it is infinitely superior to anything you can buy in the shops.

I also made some lemon & lime marmalade and some rhubarb and ginger jam which is my little soldier's favourite - ah bless.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

First shave your pig's head.......................

Vegetarians look away now.
Making brawn is not pretty and is quite messy and labour intensive. It's not much fun for the pig either. Although it is hard work, it's completely worth the faff as it's a lovely, rich amalgamation of moist, fatty pork, which is set in a pork jelly, which you spread on hot toast or bread. I think it's the British version of rillettes de porc – and if anything, I think it's better.

Anyway, back to Pinky. Firstly, you need to shave the head as there will generally be lots of fine hairs on it's face, particularly it's chin. (I use a sterilised Bic razor if you're interested)

The ears are the next thing to be removed as they're not meaty and are usually quite waxy! (I usually crisp them up in the oven for my sister's dog Bertie) Are you sure you want to continue reading this?

The head is then simmered in a very large pot along with a trotter or two for about 3 ½ hours, until the meat – most of which is round the neck and in the cheeks are very

Then it's Hammer House of Horrors time. You can't let the head cool down too much as it's difficult to skin the tongue and also the fat starts to set and it doesn't mix so well with the meat. When all the meat is extracted it's chopped and mixed and seasoned generously with salt, pepper and ground mace. All the while you're doing this, the stock needs to be boiled right down to concentrate the flavour and make it 'jellied' You then put it into little pots, pour over the stock and let it set. This has become a favourite at the farm shop – mostly with older people as its a thing they used to be able to buy in the local butchers years ago.

I even allowed my husband Mike to have some for lunch with some homemade soda bread.