Category Archives: Cook from scratch

In my Kitchen…Starting at the beginning…Feeding Baby…

As you know I cook almost everything from scratch…my children and grandchildren are not babies anymore they eat the same as the family eats…As you know on Wednesday I published my Environmental A-Z…It was the letter L…One of the topics was LEAD…These toxic metals can harm neurological development and are linked to autism and ADHD in children.

I was absolutely horrified to discover that after all the warnings over the last 10 years or more about lead and the effect that even a small amount can have on a developing brain…those precious brains of our children and grandchildren…it can still be found in processed baby foods…

I know that family units have broken down in many cultures now and good eating habits are not passed down…Like my mother passed them down to me…

 

However…baby food is one of the simplest of foods to make …making our own baby food doesn’t require special ingredients many of the ingredients we either buy regularly or grow or have in our store cupboard those tiny meals can be cooked in 15 minutes much of the time…It does however mean that we monitor the sugar and salt and can be sure that our precious children are not being fed lead…

For the first few months baby if mum is able should be happy being breastfed if not there are some very good brands of formula milk…

Before feeding, solids baby should be able to sit up and take the food off a spoon…

Time to start feeding baby which generally is around 4-6 months…How much will the baby eat? Well much depends on when you introduced food…A baby who has been eating food from about 4 months will be eating more at 6 months than a baby who starts eating food at 6 months.

When you start feeding a baby then feed only one fruit or vegetable at a time this way it is easier to determine whether or not a baby has an adverse reaction to a food..generally by their poo…which is a good indicator.

What to start with?

Avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, squash, eggs, pears, apples, mango, young coconut flesh, apples…All of these can either be mashed or lightly steamed or cooked in water…NEVER add sugar as this starts baby off on the road to only wanting to eat sweetened foods…You will see I mentioned coconut flesh which is fed to babies here in Thailand and around Asia…

A bit about young coconut flesh...Young coconuts, also called immature coconuts, are green or orange on the outside. When you open them, they mostly contain coconut water and are lined with white flesh that looks a bit like jelly. Available everywhere here but it can be bought frozen in a speciality food store.

Here in Thailand…Coconut – a first baby food?

The first solid food eaten by a Thai baby is three spoonfuls of the custard-like flesh of young coconut fed to him or her by a Buddhist priest.

BABY FOOD IDEAS USING COCONUT

  • Add a little coconut milk (or a very little coconut cream) to mashed ripe banana.
  • Mash a baked, peeled sweet potato with 2 fl oz (1/4 cup) coconut milk and a little pinch of ground ginger for an unusual and tasty treat!
  • Use coconut milk to thin pumpkin or butternut squash purees.
  • Cut up fresh sweet potato, pumpkin or butternut squash into 1-inch pieces, place them into an oven-proof dish and pour coconut milk over the top. Bake for around 30 mins (until tender), then mash and serve!
  • Use coconut water to cook rice it adds a very subtle coconut flavour.
  • Add a little coconut milk or cream to cooked oatmeal for babies an exotic breakfast treat.
  • Use coconut milk in smoothies.
  • Instead of simmering veggies in water, try simmering them in coconut milk instead!
  • Poach a boneless piece of white fish in coconut milk!
  • For older babies, add freshly grated coconut to cooked rice.

This is an example of how coconut is used to feed young children here…The soft jelly in a young coconut is easy to digest and has many nutrients…

Baby Porridge is also a good one to start with…I used to blitz my normal oats and then using a ratio of 1:3 you can make any amount…for example, 1 tbsp oats to 3 tbsp milk, milk formula, expressed breast milk then just heat and cook for a few minutes in a small saucepan and it is ready…you can serve just plain or add some fruit puree, mashed banana, apple puree or grated apple, pear, blueberry, a touch of cinnamon…

My youngest son absolutely loved carrots I used to steam them and then mash with a little unsalted butter and he would happily eat them for every meal I’m surprised he didn’t turn orange…lol

Lily’s favourite was broccoli just as it was… like in the header picture she just and still does love broccoli…

Don’t forget when your baby first starts eating solid food freeze it in small pots or large ice cube trays just take it out and thaw as required.

Once the baby reaches about 8 months it is time to start combining foods. Raw ripe fruit or lightly steamed vegetables can be offered as children love to eat with their hands at that age maybe make a small dip like a fruit puree so they can dunk…they will only need guidance a few times and they will do it themselves it will be messy but to me, there is nothing nicer than seeing a baby enjoy a piece of fruit or vegetable however messy they get. That happy look on their faces is priceless…

You can start offering fish lightly poached in milk with some vegetables like broccoli or leeks maybe some chicken or turkey again poached and mashed with some vegetables…Even tofu if you are bringing your baby up to follow a vegetarian diet…

Just be careful if you are giving bread or toast as it can get clumped together and cause a baby to choke…Always watch them at all times never leave them alone with food…especially bread…mine used to love eggy bread…

If you start baby on the right food as soon as they are ready to eat you will not have fussy kids…They will eat what you eat…Even here…the home of spicy food …Babies are started with vegetables and fruit, eggs and soft coconut flesh, then chicken or fish and rice…

Chillies are not introduced until they are about 3 or 4 and then only in small amounts …Our granddaughter is 9 now and eats everything we eat even the chillies she will eat quite spicy if it is a Thai beef salad which she loves…

Feeding babies what we eat from the get-go means we don’t get fussy kids…It always worked for me…Fussy kids turn into fussy adults…

That’s all for today if you are expecting or have a young baby then I hope these tips will help guide you to ensure your baby starts off and continues to eat well throughout their life…

Say no to lead,cadmium, mercury, sugar and salt in processed baby foods and eliminate all of it from your babies diet by making your own baby food…

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a lovely week, stay safe  xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tropical Friday…Pomegranates…

The Pomegranate with fruit like beautiful red jewels glistening in the sun always makes me think of far-off climes and hot sandy deserts…I have updated and reposted it for any new readers of my blog…Enjoy!

Pomegranate just says eat me it is such a beautiful fruit and even just a few arils scattered over a dish make it look and taste so wonderful… it is another fruit that grows in abundance here and I can see the little pomegranates as I type. The branches swaying in the gentle breeze.

It has beautiful flowers and is grown as an ornamental tree because of these.

Although not native to Japan or Korea it is widely grown there as when they mature the bark makes unusual, twisted patterns and hence this tree is very suitable for Bonsai trees… some Bonsai trees live up to 200 years.

Originally from Iran, it has been successfully cultivated throughout the Meditteranean area and North India. It grows very successfully from seed and we have many pomegranate trees here..well in almost every garden, this edible fruit is a berry and the tree is extremely drought tolerant so suited to the climate here and other Asian countries.

Medicinally the fruit rind is used to treat chronic dysentery and diarrhoea. The pulp and seeds are used as a laxative.

Like many people I was put off by getting those little seeds out from the surrounding membrane don’t they make a lot of mess? but if you separate the seeds in a bowl of water it is much easier to do. Tricks of the trade so simple when you know-how!

They make wonderful juices, smoothies, garnishes for cooking…I just love seeing those little red jewel-like berries scattered over some lamb, duck or just a simple eggplant dish and Pomegranate syrup is a lovely thing and elevates many a dish.

Lovely in a cocktail as well…just saying…lol

Just make a lovely gin and soda cocktail and add a handful of pomegranates and a splash of the syrup..it’s very nice and has a beautiful pink colour.

Or blend your own grenadine with pomegranate juice, sugar and orange blossom water to liven up lemonade and make your favourite cocktails and mocktails…

Pomegranate seeds are also used to make a spice called anardana which is very popular in Indian and Pakistan cuisine it is made from the dried seeds of the pomegranate and then ground to a fine powder. It is used as a flavour enhancer in many dishes from salads, meats, smoothies and yoghurts.

I  cannot buy pomegranate syrup/ molasses here but it is very easy to make and I love it poured over Ice cream.

Let’s Cook!

To make the syrup you need

  • 4 cups of Pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice.

Put the arils….which is what the fleshy coloured coverings are called into your blender and pulse just enough to break them up. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve.

Put the juice into a large wide pan on medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, let the juice simmer until it has reduced to about a cup or a cup and a quarter and is nice and syrupy. Pour into a sterilised jar/ bottle, cool and keep in the refrigerator.

Because Pomegranates vary in their sweetness and acidity you may need to add more or less sugar/lemon juice. 

Fruit vinegar is so lovely and very versatile.

Any good quality wine vinegar can be used or balsamic vinegar as it gives a sweeter tasting vinegar.

To make you will need equal quantities of pomegranate seeds to vinegar. What I do is decide on the bottles or jars I am using and measure the vinegar in that then once I know the amount of vinegar I then work out how many arils I will need( they must be deseeded)

 

.Put the pomegranate seeds in a saucepan and flatten them to release the juice ( use a plastic cup or something to flatten the seeds.

Bring them to a slow rolling boil not completely boiling so as to release the pomegranate juice and turn off the heat. Pour everything into a sterilized jar or bottle and cover the top loosely and allow to cool completely. Once cool put the cap on the jar or bottle and store it in a dark cool place or in the fridge the flavour will develop as the days go by…When ready to use strain the vinegar you can add some molasses to strengthen the flavour or add sugar to sweeten.

It can be used as a drink by adding a tbsp or two of vinegar to a glass of water and sweeten with honey. OR used to make salad dressings either on its own or by mixing with Olive oil, garlic or mustard.

It also makes a lovely gift..who doesn’t like a bottle of handmade vinegar…

I hope you are enjoying these Tropical Friday posts …Thank you for reading and I hope you love the recipes …xxx

 

 

CarolCooks2…Week 13…in my Kitchen…made from scratch…Sauces and condiments…

Welcome to my kitchen where I cook almost everything from scratch…Just in case you missed it one of the reasons why I cook from scratch…

So easy to say “make everything from scratch” HOWEVER…let’s be realistic here…and break it down a little.

Look at what you eat often...if it’s something that is a rare treat and time-consuming to make, there is often no point unless you want to make it…Your time is far better spent making food from scratch, which you and your family actually eat on a regular basis.

Sauces and condiments…I always thought it was a peculiarity of the Brits but now I am more knowledgeable about world cuisine I don’t think so but today I am concentrating on the sauces and condiments my mother made and served with her dinners…

It is also as you know because I don’t like chemicals in my food and also I don’t like being fleeced an example of this are the Colemans sauces…I am just using one as an example…Horseradish Sauce…

Spirit vinegar, horseradish (33%), turnip, rapeseed oil, water, sugar, glucose-fructose syrup, flavourings, salt, free-range British EGG yolk powder (0,6%), thickener (xanthan gum), MUSTARD flour, dextrose, antioxidant (sodium METABISULPHITE).

Plus the jar size and contents have decreased…plus import costs makes for an expensive(if) I can find it… jar of sauce…

Standard old price: £1.19 for 250ml. Standard new price £1.14 for 150ml. Total con!…this is the UK cost for me that is more than doubled…

No brainer really I am saving on cost-plus eliminating what looks like to me 3 lots of sugar under different names…salt, flavourings plus sodium METABISULPHITE…Well, I googled that… and it is safe to eat…not to breathe in and could affect one’s organs…According to the relevant agencies I trust about as much as I would trust a snake just about to strike at me…Just saying!

I hear you say moderation and I agree but I will also say build up as it is in mass-produced bread, crackers, biscuits etc…and also classed as a disinfectant…I’d really rather not…

Recipes…

Beef…it was horseradish sauce or mustard...

My mother made her prepared horseradish with grated horseradish root, vinegar, and salt…this is not the same as horseradish sauce…but is added to the sour cream if making a horseradish sauce…which is a milder version of prepared horseradish.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp Apple cider vinegar

Mix everything together, taste and adjust seasoning if required. leave in the fridge for at least 2 hrs before serving if possible to allow flavours to develop.

Lamb…freshly made mint sauce…

  • 2-3 bunches of fresh-picked mint leaves only unless the stalks are very tender.
  • 1-2 tbsp white vinegar…my mother always used malt vinegar again I can’t always get it here.
  • 4-6 tsp raw brown sugar

Wash the mint thoroughly and pick off the leaves. Chop finely with 1-2 tsp of the sugar and then add the vinegar…taste and add more sugar if required some prefer their mint sauce sweeter than others.

Enjoy with your lamb and new potatoes…Delicious.

Pork…it had something missing if there was no apple sauce…

  • 4 large Apples(Bramley’s) if you can get them…peeled, cored and sliced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon/lime and toss apples to stop them from going brown.
  • Sugar…if using a cooking apple you may need 3-4 tbsp sugar depending…the apples here are not very tart so I often don’t use sugar or a scant tbsp.

Cook the apples for 20-25 mins until they break down and turn into a thick sauce if you are adding sugar add at the beginning of the cook.

 

N.B I like to add a clove to my apples when cooking but that is personal taste and sometimes I add a small piece of cinnamon.

Chicken…cranberry sauce and bread sauce…

Cranberry Sauce:

  • 3  cups or 12 oz of cranberries.
  • The juice of 2 large Oranges.
  • A cup of sugar.
  • 1 stick of cinnamon.

 

Put all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pan, bring to the boil and turn down so it is still a rolling boil and cook for 10 mins if ( using) frozen berries or 20 minutes if using fresh cranberries as they will take a bit longer to pop.

Store in a sealed container.

My mum’s original Bread Sauce recipe…

Tip:

Freeze the breadcrumbs ready to use( I always) keep a bag of frozen breadcrumbs in the freezer.  I have been surprised living here that many people have not heard of bread sauce my mum always made it at Christmas Dinner we couldn’t have turkey/Capon without bread sauce…

I have been making it here quite often lately not sure why apart from its quick to make and goes well with roast chicken as before it was just made at Christmas…I am blaming the quarantine…

Ingredients:

About half a loaf of Stale white bread either broken into smallish pieces or can blitz into breadcrumbs if you like a smoother sauce.

  • I brown Onion peeled and studded with cloves.
  • 2 bay leaves.
  • Salt & Pepper.
  • About half-pint milk.

Let’s Cook!

Pour milk into a saucepan and add studded onion. Slowly bring to boil and turn down and add your bread crumbs or cubes and let gently simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool. When cool remove the onion and bay leaves.

This can be reheated to serve or made the day before and kept covered in the fridge. It is quite a thick consistency so if too thin add some more bread if too thick some more milk.

Fish…served with tartare sauce…delicious…

  • 200ml/7fl oz mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp capers, drained and chopped
  • 3 tbsp gherkins, drained and chopped
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • A squeeze of lemon/lime juice
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • flaked sea salt and freshly ground white pepper.

Mix together all of the ingredients in a small bowl and serve straight away or store in the fridge until needed.

How easy is that…

With all of these, you control the sugar and salt plus they are easy to make…the chopping of ingredients takes longer.

Thank you once again for joining me in my kitchen it is lovely to see you here…See you tomorrow for Tropical Fridays will it be fruit or vegetable…well known or little known? xx

CarolCooks2…Week 9…in my Kitchen…made from scratch…Homemade Sausages and Sausage Spice mixes…

Welcome to my kitchen where I cook almost everything from scratch…Today I will tell you a little about myself and one of the reasons why I cook from scratch…

Just lately my phobia about food when I don’t know its origin or who made it has got worse maybe it is because I am reading and researching more about food…

My phobia stems way back from childhood when we were on our annual holiday to Great Yarmouth and for many years we stayed at the same guesthouse…I have many happy memories apart from this one…Mrs Horne was the lady who owned the guest house and she did all her own cooking and baking with the help of her mother…

This particular evening homemade meat pies were on the menu…Bear in mind I was about 8 years old and my father was a stickler for manners and eating up our dinners.

Cutting open my pie …This green stuff came out…My reaction was horror and at the top of my voice, I said I am not eating that it is green…My father’s reaction was to tell me through gritted teeth to be quiet and eat it!

My mother on glancing at my plate quietly picked the plate up and returned it to the kitchen telling my father… she can’t eat that…

What transpired was that a very apologetic old lady came out of the kitchen and explained that with the bit of pastry left over she had made herself a greengage jam pie…That was what landed on my plate with potatoes and gravy…

Needless to say for an 8-year-old it scarred me for life…haha…

From that day to this anything which I don’t know the origin or if it looks or sounds suspect in any way invokes that feeling of horror and I can be turned off anything in a trice…

Hence why I have always cooked from scratch…So there you have it …A humble greengage pie covered in gravy…gave me my phobia…

Hence I always make my own sausages or buy them from a friend here who makes her own sausages ( I have watched) she was married to a German gentleman so makes really lovely German sausages also many of the markets here make their own sausages which means natural sausage casings are freely available…

Sausages frying

A quick tip on how to spot a natural casing is if the sausages on display are not all a uniform shape but all slightly different and maybe wider at one end from the other.

Firstly I will give you two recipes for Sausage spices which are easy to make as most people have the spices in their store cupboards and it helps with the rotation of your spices as they do lose their flavour if they sit in your cupboard for an extended period…

These mixes are lovely if you are buying your meat already minced… I will also give you a recipe for making your own sausage meat from scratch.

Sausage Spice Mix

This spice mix is enough for 1lb of meat once mixed in the meat chill for about 3 hours as the meat must get really cold before filling your casings…but of course, if you want to make a larger amount then store it in a sealed container but remember not to use fresh garlic but dried if storing the mix for another day which is why with this mix I just make as required as I prefer to use fresh garlic.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ½ tsp of Paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp of salt
  • ½ tsp of fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp of red pepper flakes ( optional)
  • 1 tsp of garlic granules ( I use fresh garlic)

Mix all the spices together or if you like your fennel a bit finer then blitz or grind in a pestle and mortar use as required.

Italian Seasoning

This Italian seasoning is very nice if you don’t have Italian seasoning but have dried oregano and rosemary then use those…

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • ½ tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of minced garlic
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp minced shallot

Mix all the ingredients together this mix is enough for 2 lbs of meat.

A Quick Tip I always make and cook a small patty just to check the seasoning and adjust if required.

Sausage Casings.

 

Natural sausage casings are generally made from pigs intestines although sheep’s, goat or cattle are sometimes used. The intestines are scraped, flushed and washed with salt and water either by hand or machine and have been used for centuries.

A video showing how to clean the casings. This is a really good clear video…I can buy natural casings here which do not need quite so much work but I found this video extremely helpful.

Organic food regulations only permit natural casings.

As I stated above you can spot whether or not natural casing is used in sausage production as the sausages will not all have a uniform shape.

Artificial Casings.

Artificial casings are made from collagen often from cattle skin, cellulose or plastic (not eaten)

If you buy a lot of sausages, you may notice some have plastic skin that has to be removed or separated when cooking.

Vegetarian Casings.

Are 100% plant-based and used in Halal or Kosher food making.

The Sausage.

I expect you were wondering when I would get to this part… I think making sausages is a great idea as you can introduce so many flavours and spices which to buy are generally expensive and unless you are buying Artisan ones the other ingredients are probably questionable…

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¾ lbs Lean Pork…Hip or shoulder
  • 1lb 2 oz Belly Pork
  • 1lb 2 oz Pork back fat
  • 3 oz salt
  • 1 ½ tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 6 oz breadcrumbs or medium oatmeal
  • 250 ml iced water
  • 6 metres (20 feet) 28–35mm (3⁄4–11⁄2in) sheep or hog casings, soaked and one end knotted

A quick tip If you put the Pork fat into the freezer for 30 minutes, it will mince more easily without melting.

Let’s make Sausages

Chop the meat and fat into chunks and chill thoroughly.

Mince the meat and fat through a coarse mincing plate onto a deep, wide tray when mincing alternate meat and fat pieces.

Mix the salt and spices with the bread crumbs or oatmeal if using and sprinkle this mix over the minced meat and get those hands in there and start to mix. Drizzle in the iced water and mix thoroughly to ensure the spices are distributed evenly.

Now make your little tester patty and cook…Taste and adjust the seasoning as required.

Now mince the mixture again through a fine mincing plate.

If you are lucky to have a filler nozzle then fit it and fill those casings making sure it is not too tight or burst when you make your links.

Twist the end of the sausage to close it and decide on the length you desire for each sausage and pinch the sausage easing the meat away to form a gap in the casing then twist the sausage twice…Remember when you do the next sausage twist in the opposite direction or the links will unravel easily.

If you have any air bubbles then prick the skin at that point using a cocktail stick or a sterilised needle. If the mixture is too loose within the skin squeeze from the closest link and then twist the skin again…

As with anything new practice makes perfect.

Homemade Sausages

Your finished sausages on the BBQ

I hope that you have enjoyed this post on how to make your own sausages and if you enjoy as there are so many different flavours you can make …

You can mix pork and beef, chicken sausages are nice…

My favourite sausages are:

Cheddar cheeses and jalapeno

Chicken, pancetta and rosemary

Basil and tomato

Apple and caramelised onions

Red onion and parmesan

The beauty also of making your own sausages is that you can make a mix of flavours something to suit everyone…How good is that?

Enjoy and have fun …xxx

I hope you have enjoyed this week in my kitchen if you have any recipe requests please let me know and I will be happy to find them and test them out for you…x

Thank you for joining me in my kitchen today…my dearest wish is that more people would count chemicals instead of calories and cost…Carol xx

Traditional Hot Cross Buns…

Yes, that time of the year is nearly upon us when we celebrate Easter with Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday followed by Easter Eggs on Easter Sunday and Simmel Cake on Easter Monday.

Traditional Hot Cross Buns

I have been seeing lots of alternative recipes for Hot Cross Buns...some sound delicious some sound as if they are made just because the baker can…

Most of the recipes from my childhood I don’t want to change… it’s tradition lest we forget…x…

So without further ado here is your recipe for…Traditional Hot Cross Buns...Warm from the oven there is nought better than a Hot Cross Bun buttered with lovely grass-fed butter…

Ingredients:

For the dough

  • 450g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 x 7g sachets easy-blend yeast
  • 50g caster sugar …I use natural golden sugar.
  • 150ml warm milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 50g  butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • oil, for greasing
  • 1 tsp Himalayan Salt…ordinary salt is ok.

The spices and dried fruit

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 100g currants
  • Optional: Orange or lemon zest.

For  the pastry crosses:

  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar.

Let’s Bake!

Put the flour, yeast, castor sugar and 1 tsp salt into a large mixing bowl with the spices and dried fruit and mix well. If you want to add a little lemon or orange zest it can be added now. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk, 50ml warm water, the beaten egg and the melted butter. Mix everything together to form a dough – start with a wooden spoon and finish with your hands. If the dough is too dry, add a little more warm water; if it’s too wet, add more flour.

Knead in the bowl or on a floured surface until the dough becomes smooth and springy. Transfer to a clean, lightly greased bowl and cover loosely with a clean, damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place to rise until roughly doubled in size – this will take about 1 hr depending on how warm the room is.

Tip the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for a few secs, then divide into 12 even portions – I roll my dough into a long sausage shape, then quarter and divide each quarter into 3 pieces. Shape each portion into a smooth round and place on a baking sheet greased with butter, leaving some room between each bun for it to rise.

Use a small, sharp knife to score a cross on the top of each bun, then cover with the damp tea towel again and leave in a warm place to prove for 20 mins until almost doubled in size again. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas

When the buns are ready to bake, mix the plain flour with just enough water to give you a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag (or into a plastic food bag and snip the corner off) and pipe a white cross into the crosses you cut earlier. Bake for 12-15 mins until the buns are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. While still warm, melt the granulated sugar with 1 tbsp water in a small pan, then brush over the buns.

Tip: I put my mix for the cross in one of those plastic refill sauce bottles as I find I get all sorts of shape and size of the cross if I use a piping bag/greaseproof. clumsy klutz that I am..ha ha.

Traditional Hot Cross Buns

Hot from the Oven! Yum!

Legend tells us that if sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if “Half for you and a half for me, Between us two, shall goodwill be” is said at the time or if hung in the kitchen they are said to protect against fire and all bread will turn out ok this is replaced every year.

And I’m sure there are lots more traditions but I just want the butter to put on my bun.

buttered hot cross bun

Enjoy your buns xx

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great week  and don’t forget I do love to chat if you want to leave a comment xx

British Pie Week…1st-7th March 2021.

Pies have been recorded as early as the Neolithic Period, around 9500 BC. The ancient Egyptians’ diet featured basic pies made from oat, wheat, rye, and barley, and filled with honey and baked over hot coals…

I would never get into a discussion as to who makes the best pies as all around the world if you start a discussion on the merits of pie…Someone’s mum always makes the best pies for me my mum does…Be it Steak and Kidney, Fish Pie, Mince pies or an Apple pie her pastry is the best and her pies lauded …

A pie can have a top and a bottom or just a top and it could be a pastry or potato topping…Plain or latticed…There is no end to the variations of the fillings or the case or indeed the type of pastry…

My Hubbies all-time favourite is the Steak and Kidney Pie…

Speaking of which however hot it gets and it is currently only 10am and 30C and rising…Hubby will still eat meat pie…I make individual ones and then he can have pie and I have my Thai food…

two meat pies

For fillings, I either make mince and onions, Steak and Mushroom, Steak and Ale or hubby’s favourite steak and kidney…Chicken and Mushroom or Chicken and Leek Pie…BUT of course not forgetting the British favourite Apple Pie…

For the pastry

  • 250g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 140g cold unsalted butter, roughly cubed
  • 1 large egg  yolk
  • 1 small egg  whisked with 1 tbsp milk, for the egg wash

For the filling…Steak & Kidney

  • 1 ox kidney, about 400g/14oz, get it fresh from your butcher. Pig’s and lamb’s kidneys only need short cooking time so if used add 15 mins before the end of cooking.
  • 1 kg trimmed braising or stewing beef
  • 250g flat mushrooms, unpeeled but wiped with a damp cloth
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion,  peeled and thickly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 50-85g plain flour, depending on how thick you like your gravy
  • 600ml fresh stock or  water and 1 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Let’s Cook!

It’s important to cook the meat a day ahead so that you can discard any fat that has risen to the top, and so that the pastry doesn’t slump in the face of a too-warm filling, so up to 48 hours ahead -make the pastry. Whizz the flour and a pinch of fine sea salt together for a few seconds in a food processor, then add the butter and whizz until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Whisk together the egg yolk and 3 tbsp water and whizz with the pastry until it collects in a ball. Wrap in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for at least one hour…

TO COOK THE MEAT.

Cut out the white central core of the kidney and  (discard). Cut the kidney into bite-sized pieces. Cut the beef into bite-sized cubes and cut the mushrooms into chunks.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Throw in the kidney and fry until lightly coloured. Tip into a colander to drain.

Wipe out the frying pan and return it to low-medium heat, adding 25g/1oz of the butter and 1 tbsp oil. Tip in the onion and fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and slightly golden add the garlic for the final 2/3 minutes.

Transfer to a large casserole, using a slotted spoon.

Preheat the oven to 160C/gas 3/fan 140C. Tip the 85g/3oz flour into a large plastic bag, and season it generously. Throw in the beef and shake until lightly floured. Return the frying pan to medium-high heat, adding a little more oil and butter if needed. Shake off any excess flour (reserving it) then fry the beef in batches until golden-brown. As each batch is done, transfer it to the casserole.

Adding more oil and butter to the frying pan if necessary, fry the mushrooms for about 2 minutes until starting to wilt, then add them to the casserole with the drained kidneys, stock or hot water, bouillon powder and bay leaf, plus the excess flour in the bag if you like a thick gravy.

Stir well, cover and cook in the oven for 75-90 minutes until the meat is tender and the sauce is thick. Cool thoroughly, then put in the fridge (preferably overnight) so any fat will solidify – it can then be skimmed off and discarded the next morning.

In the morning – return the pastry to cool room temperature, then roll it out thinly on a well-floured surface. Invert a 28-30x23cm, 6.5cm deep pie dish on to the pastry. Mentally add an extra 1cm all round, then use the dish as a guide to cut out the pastry lid. From the remnants, cut out enough 6cm-wide strips of pastry to go round the dish – they should cover the flat rim and about halfway down the insides.

Lightly butter the rim of the dish and line it with the strip(s) of pastry, sealing any joins with a little dab of water. Butter the shoulders of a pie raiser or an upturned egg cup and stand it in the middle. Spoon in the meat mixture to come level with the top of the dish.

Don’t overfill: reserve any excess gravy to serve hot with the pie.

Brush the pastry rim with a little water, then drape the pastry lid over it, pinching the edges to seal. Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge if not baking immediately.

Finally, an hour before serving – preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C. Make four slashes in the lid of the pie, then brush with the egg wash. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown, turning the heat down 10-20º after about 20 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and leave it to rest for around 10 minutes before cutting into it.

These instructions are if you are making one large pie…If I am making individual pies I just cut a strip of pastry to go around the top of the dish fill the dish with the meat mixture and add a pastry top…This cuts the calories…But if you like a large pie and want to cut nice slices then a pie bottom can be added.

Of course, the cooking time will also need to be adjusted…For an individual pie depending on your oven, it takes approx 25 mins.

To celebrate British  Pie Week... Tweet  #britishpieweek

Enjoy!

We can’t forget to mention the Apple Pie…Can We?

https://carolcooks2.com/2017/01/02/apple-pie/

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a lovely weekend I look forward to your comments and what your favourite pie is… Enjoy your pie  xx