Waffling Waffles

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Friday, and its the beginning of school holidays my youngest woke at 5am and wanted waffles for breakfast!!

Thing is he only really wants a swimming pool of the maple syrup, and will probably only eat half of the waffles. My other son smothers the one he wants with cinnamon sugar, also smothering the worktop in the process. Both then rush off as the dining table is ‘boring’ and they have Mines to craft, you-tubes to watch, Lego to scatter on the floor and who knows what. Teddy, our dog, also loves waffles (and anything that isn’t kiwi fruit) so he generally gets a plain piece once we are done.

Fortunately, that then leaves a leisurely breakfast and chat over Greek coffee for my wife and I. Plus, I can pretend to be healthy with fruit appearing on the plate, along with the cinnamon sugar, organic maple syrup, vanilla bean ice cream and sprinkling of dark choc chips.

The recipe I use is loosely based on one from an updated edition of the glorious Mrs. Beeton’s Home management. A great book for classic recipes and ideas, I would strongly recommend anyone to have a copy. I have amended their recipe, to make this my own, and present it below

Oh and if you are worried about my waistline and all those calories I ingested, they were used up in hand splitting a whole pile of pine logs for my mother-in-law.

Recipe

The waffle stack before I drizzled the maple syrup
The waffle stack before I drizzled the maple syrup

Ingredients

[Makes about a dozen waffles]

  • 400g self raising flour
  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 3 x 70g Eggs (extra large) or 4 x 60g eggs (large)
  • 600ml whole milk
  • 5g salt
  1. Turn on your waffle iron, and allow to heat to temperature.
  2. Melt the butter, and allow to cool.
  3. Measure the flour into a large bowl.
  4. Separate the egg whites and yolks, placing the yolks with the flour and the whites into a separate large bowl.
  5. Add salt to whites and whisk to soft firm peak. I use the electric hand mixer for speed, and while noisy, it does save the arm muscles when you are still half asleep.
  6. Whisk the milk and butter into the flour to form an even batter without lumps. If you have already done the whites, you can use the same whisk no need to wash or grab another.
  7. Fold about a third of the egg whites into the batter, repeat with half of remaining, and then all. be careful folding in so not to loose all that incorporated air, that is what helps to make the crispy outer shell.
  8. Spoon just enough batter into your waffle iron, we have two different ones, a rectangular one that takes 3 tablespoons and a round one that takes 6 tablespoons. It is best to go with less is more with a waffle iron, they won’t leak on your worktop, and you get that great raggedy edge
  9. Serve with lots of sweet sugary toppings of your choice.

[This post also appeared on my Instagram feed 18th Sept 2021, minus the recipe]

Pork and Sage Meatballs in Tomato Sauce.

The other day I was in the butcher’s looking for inspiration, the various cuts and joints were all making their foodie dreams into my head. Should I go for a roast beef, some BBQ chicken wings, how about a classic Toad-in-the-hole. Then, as I stood looking at the pork belly and considering another joyous adventure to flavourtown and crispy crackling, I had a particular neuron fire with gusto. I could hear a little voice saying “meatballs, meeeeeetballs, meeeeaaaatbaaaalls!!” So instead pork meatballs it had to be.

When it came to making these, I decided to make in the food processor rather than chop, shred or dice by hand. This was partly as I needed to make breadcrumbs from a load of old crusts and some stale bread I had and didn’t want to waste. So as the machine is out, lets use it!

Normally, I would not recommend chopping an onion in a food processor. It purees some, while big bits will be stuck to the sides in an ugly mess. However, I want basically an onion puree to flavour the meat evenly, with no chunks in my final ball. So a longer whizzzy-whiz would bring up the goods with no effort.

The bread is there to allow the moisture and in turn the flavour of the meat to stay in the meatball and not leak out into the sauce, but also the flavours from the sauce to find a way in and add that extra bit of flavour.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • For the meatballs
    • 600g Pork mince
    • 1 onion
    • 1 slice of fresh bread
    • 10 -12 fresh sage leaves
    • 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
    • Salt n pepper
  • For the Sauce
    • 1 jar passata
    • A sprig of fresh thyme – or 1 level teaspoon of dried.
    • A sprig of fresh oregano – or 1 level teaspoon of dried.
    • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • Salt n pepper
  • 2 cups or 400 g white long grain rice (or tagliatelle pasta, see note at the end of recipe)
  1. Peel and roughly chop the onion, and place in the food processor, rip up the bread and add with the paprika.
  2. Turn on the machine (in a commercial kitchen it’s referred to as either “Blitz“, “Blitzing” or sometimes “whizzing“) and run until there are no large pieces left and it is evenly chopped. you may need to stop the machine a couple of times and use a scraper to get larger bits off the side of the bowl.
  3. With the processor is running, drop the sage leaves in and then add some pork mince a little at a time until all in there and combined.
  4. Season well with salt cracked black pepper
  5. Turn off the machine, (unplug it too to be safe) Take about a tablespoon of mix and with wet hands or while wearing food grade gloves is better, form into a ball. Aim for a golf or ping pong ball sort of size, a slight variation among each is not an issue.
  6. Put the ball into a large casserole or baking dish, and repeat . The balls can touch, but it is best if they are a single layer.
  7. Pour the passata, oil, vinegar and sugar into the now empty bowl of the food processor, “whiz” to combine. this also has the added effect of collecting any remnants of the meat mix.
  8. Pour the sauce onto the meatballs.
  9. Rip up the sauce herbs and sprinkle on top, season the whole dish and drizzle a little more olive oil over the top. – if however using dried herbs, stir them into the sauce or they will burn.
  10. Cover and bake at 160°C 325°F for 45 minutes. check occasionally to ensure not loosing too much moisture, add boiling water if needed and stir in gently.
  11. About 20 mins before serving prepare the rice by placing the measured amount in a pan, covering with enough cold water that there is a layer as deep to the first knuckle of the middle finger.
  12. Bring rice to boil, then turn off heat, put a lid on and allow to stand and absorb the moisture. DO NOT LIFT LID!
  13. Remove the lid of the casserole and add a sprinkling of cheese, this can be mixed with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs for extra crunch. Return to the oven for 5 minutes to allow the cheese to melt.
  14. Serve to your hungry guests who will be able to smell the yumminess.

Note that is you prefer these go really well with a pasta instead of rice. I prefer a simple pasta, like tagliatelle or spaghetti, but have also served with a ricotta and spinach ravioli with success.

A real slow, fire roasted Shepherd’s Pie

A classic cooked with the aid of a wood fire – This is a long process, but bear with me, it is so very much worth it !

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Most of us at some time have made shepherd’s pie in one form or another. It is one of those dishes that schoolkids make in “Home Economics” or whatever the cookery class is currently renamed . But how many of us actually make a proper shepherd’s pie?

I don’t usually like to tell people about making a dish ‘properly’, but if we are to be technical there are a couple of things to note.

  • The dish similar to this but with beef is technically a Cottage Pie [I am sure I will blog that at some point and attach the link here when I do.]
  • As here, it is a much better dish if made from the collected leftovers of a good lamb roast, and raw mince. The meat has more flavour, there is gravy and cooked veg to add too.
  • As we are using leftovers, ensure to get them in the fridge as soon as cooking is over. No one wants to get sick!
  • The mash potato should be seasoned with white and not black pepper, (this is a great general rule for potato dishes)
  • Tomato sauce/ketchup is added to the meat sauce, and if someone wants to add more when you serve, just let them.
  • Don’t rush the process, relax and enjoy.

Slow cooking as a process adds flavours and softens meat to a consistency that is incomparable. As a bonus it will fill your kitchen, or in this case garden, with the most wonderful smells too. Fats will render, the flavourful oils of herbs and spices will come to the fore, juices will become the finest jus. It also gives the perfect excuse to have some personal space, “Sorry, I cant come. I have a pot on the stove.”

Slow cooking is a year round thing, though best in winter for many dishes. The need for the oven to be on for hours; the vegetables suitable to be included being in season; the final dish being a warm hug to the soul.

Finally, as I state in the title this was fire roasted – cooked in my pizza oven no less. If you don’t have a pizza oven or a suitable BBQ to cook on, then a slow cooker, or a regular oven will do, but may take longer to get that melting meat needed.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • For the lamb roast
    • 1.5 to 2kg leg of lamb, bone-in preferred, An “easy carve’ or boneless is fine if that’s all you can get.
    • 1 large brown onion
    • 2-3 Carrots
    • 1 Leek
    • A handful – about 200g green beans
    • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic
    • 2 to 3 sprigs each of Rosemary, Thyme and Oregano – or 1 teaspoon of dried
    • a good sprinkling of salt and black pepper
    • Approx. 100ml – 1/2 cup Olive oil
    • Whatever usual garnish you wish roast potatoes or salad or similar.
  • For the Mash
    • 1.5 kg good mashing potatoes, floury not waxy.
    • 1 large dollop of unsalted butter
    • about 50ml or a 1/4 cup of milk
    • a handful, up to 1 cup of grated cheese – I used “Tasty” the Australian equivalent of English Cheddar
    • Salt and ground White pepper
  • For the meat sauce – depending on how much you have left
    • 1 slice of bread
    • 2 tablespoons – tomato ketchup
4 hours of slow cook later

Method – Part 1 – First the roast

  1. Get the wood fired pizza oven or BBQ to about 200°C – 450°F but add no more extra fuel, the fire needs to naturally cool over the cooking process.
  2. Peel and chop the onion into chunky pieces, about the size of the end of your thumb, place in the bottom of a large fireproof, preferable cast iron pan.
  3. Repeat with the carrot and leek, ensuring to wash the grit and dirt from between the leek leaves.
  4. Place the lamb on top. If you wish to stud the lamb with the garlic and herbs, by all means do
  5. place the herbs and garlic around the lamb, season well and fill the pot to cover about three quarters of the lamb with cold water. Drizzle well with olive oil.
  6. Put the lid on the pan and into the oven, as far from the fire as possible. Almost close the door, but keep the flue open. As per step one, the idea is to allow the fire naturally die over the next 3 to 4 hours and the radiant heat penetrate the meat slowly, not dry it out.
  7. Check the meat after the first hour, basting and adding more water if needed. Repeat at the second and third hour mark. If the fire is dying too quickly add charcoal or just a few smaller sticks, the temp needs to stay above 150°C but not climb above the starting point.
  8. Trim the ends off the green beans, and in the last 30 minutes add them to the pot, ensuring to submerge in the cooking liquid.
  9. If you are serving any of this as a roast, allow to stand for at least 15 minutes away from the heat. the cooking liquid is an excellent sauce and does not need gravy powder or other thickeners.
  10. Try not to eat it all in the first go.
  11. Put everything not eaten in the fridge overnight.

Method – Part 2 – the Pie

  1. Remove the roast from the fridge and remove all the meat from the bones. No need for finesse, chunks is fine. Large pieces of fat should be discarded, but smaller pieces can remain.
  2. Remove the fat from the reserved cooking liquid,
  3. Using a mincer (my hand mincer is shown) process all the meat, Any cooked vegetables that are left*, including the beans and smaller fat pieces. Place all into a large cooking pot with the cooking liquid.
    1. * don’t add the garnishes or salad or whatever you served the roast with unless you think it will go okay, cucumber does not belong in a shepherd’s pie.
  4. Roughly chop the potatoes and boil in salted water or preferably steam until soft – roughly 20 minutes. I like to leave the skin on mine for extra flavour, goodness and fibre.
  5. The meat needs to have a reasonable amount of liquid like a bolognaise. if there is not enough you can add water, stock or a tomato passata, depending on what you have. Bring the meat to a slow boil, then simmer 15 minutes, stirring so not to burn.
  6. Mash the potatoes – either with a vegetable ricer, or by hand. Then add the butter, seasoning and a little of the milk. Check the consistency and add more milk only if needed, the aim is to have a firm but not stiff mash.
  7. Add the meat to a deep pie dish, and level out. If making individual pies lay your dishes out all out, and ensure to put even amount in each. The dish(es) should be no more than half full.
  8. If you want to be super-flashy, you can pipe the mash, but a spoon and dollop will get the job done quicker. Add small amounts of mash to the top of the meat in blobs and then smooth out to evenly cover. Use a fork to mark the top once done.
  9. Cover the top with the grated cheese and bake at 160°C 325°F for 15 mins until the cheese melts.

Serve immediately.

Not Your Regular Cookie

A crispy, chewy dog biscuit, which just might go well with cheese.
(Makes approximately 30)

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We made a decision on adopting Teddy, that our noodle-horse would get more than just ‘dog-food‘ wherever possible. We usually buy meat for human consumption, as the requirements and checks for safety are far higher, while ensuring our beast got proper dog-safe nutrition. I sometimes post on Teddy’s Instagram the meals we prepare and if there’s call for it, I will repost some here.

Anyway, I wanted to make something for Ted we could hand out as a treat, which would not be sugar or salt filled, have both a chewiness to it and crunch, be nutritionally good for him, also wasn’t expensive and preferably easy to make. It also had to be able to be stored for a reasonable amount of time at room temperature.

A whole tray of waffle biscuits ready to try

I messed around with a few things, and came up with these biscuits. Greyhounds are known to have delicate tummies, so the added lentils are great to help. The use of the rice and tapioca flour reduces gluten and increases the crispness to the outside and the chew to the inside.

The lentil mix I use is sometimes sold as “soup mix” a dehydrated blend of pearl barley, buckwheat, soybean, red and green lentils. I find this works really well and is easy to find in most supermarkets or independent food stores.

I make these large size as he is a large dog. If you have a smaller dog, and want to try them, you can either break up for them or make mini-cookies suitable for their smaller teeth. I would suggest keeping the lentils as they are to promote chewing, and thus saving your shoes, table-legs, books, etc from a similar fate.

Snapping one of the Lentil dog biscuits

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 100g – 3/4 cup “soup mix” lentils
  • 350g – 2 and 1/3 cups Plain flour
  • 50g – 1/3 cup Rice flour
  • 50g – 1/3 cup – Tapioca flour
  • 50g – 1/3 cup – Lard (beef dripping, tallow or bacon fat all work well in this as alternates)
  • 2g, pinch of salt

Method

  1. Soak the lentil mix in cold water overnight.
  2. Turn oven to 150°C, 300°F, Gas Mark 2, grease and line your biscuit baking trays, at least 2 will be needed.
  3. Put lentils into a pan and bring to boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to stand.
  4. Add all the other ingredients to a large bowl.
  5. Drain the lentils, reserving the cooking water , add both the lentils and 200ml – 3/4 cup of the hot cooking water to the mix.
  6. Stir well. It will be a sticky lumpy mess at first, just ensure the flour is all combined into the dough.
  7. Place 1 tablespoon blobs on the baking trays and flatten, leaving about 1 inch or 2cm all around each one. Prick with a fork to allow steam to escape and so the biscuit to crisp.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
  9. Allow to cool on the tray. They can be stored in an airtight container in a cupboard for a few weeks, or in the refrigerator in warmer weather.

As you can see from the pictures, and the video, I also cooked some of the mix from a previous batch in the waffle iron. These worked really well, but took a long time to cook, so please be patient if you try it. I do know Teddy loved these, so I will have to make again.

Lastly, What’s this thing about cheese? Well I said we ensure Ted has high quality food, and we all know dogs love cheese but should not really have it, but please check the below video for context.

Needs Cheese – perhaps a Red Leicester or a Stilton

Chewy Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Cookies

It’s absolutely irresistible! A delicious chocolate chip cookie, with the perfect combination of crunch and silky smoothness. This mouthwatering creation was inspired by a recipe in a magazine that my wife altered to suit our preferences. She’s swapped sultanas for cranberries and omitted milk chocolate chips in preference for dark chocolate. We’re sure you’ll love this recipe as much as we do.

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Tips

As with all baking sessions, I strongly recommend to read the whole recipe, then gather all your ingredients and utensils before starting to bake. Realising mid-bake your favourite biscuit tray is in the freezer with sausage rolls, or the choc chips have all been eaten, results in real frustration, and possible need to go shopping mid bake.

Also, I like to have uniform sized cookies, to prevent arguments later, and use either scales or a small mechanical ice-cream scoop; the sort with a squeeze handle, that helps the spoon contents drop out. This tool is great but is not a requirement, I do find it is a good way to get the dough onto the tray quickly and with little fuss.

Ingredient tips

For this recipe, it is best to have all your ingredients at room temperature, the butter will be softer for mixing, and there us no temperature shock and mixture clumping as they combine. A better raw mix makes for easier baking, and a far better final product.

Butter , egg and brown sugar ready to be mixed
Butter , egg and brown sugar ready to be mixed

Plain flour or biscuit flour? Any white plain flour will be okay for this recipe, but as a general guide try to use flour with a 10% or less protein content, They are sometimes referred to as ‘Soft flour’. This covers all the basic plain supermarket flour, and so there is no need to start searching packets or going to go get ‘biscuit flour’ just for this bake. Bread flour has a higher protein content, usually over 11% and will work but give a different texture and not that crisp crunch. Whole wheat, or Whole grain flour will absorb more of the moisture from the egg and would need additional liquid to work (try a tablespoon of milk). Finally, if you use Self-raising, you will get some nice, but rather dry muffins.

I would suggest you really look at the wide choice of choc chips you use when baking. Many marked “suitable for baking” contain only miniscule percentages of the cocoa solids we are wanting for good flavour. Check the ingredients on the pack before you buy, and check the taste of the chips once the pack is open. I use dark and not milk choc chips as I find they are not too sweet, have little or no milk solids too. I sometimes use just a block of good quality choc and break into small pieces, the random edges and odd sizes add to the random combination of each bite.

Recipe

Ingredients

(Makes about 30 cookies)

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 275g brown sugar
  • 1 Egg (large or extra large)
  • 185g White Plain Flour (biscuit flour if available)
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 35g Cocoa Powder
  • 85g Dried Cranberries
  • 85g White Chocolate Chips
  • 85g Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 2 g ( pinch) salt

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 160C, 325 F, Gas 3, grease and line at least 2 large baking trays with baking paper or silicon mats.
  • In a large bowl, combine the salt, sugar, butter and vanilla, careful not to overmix, but only to remove any clumps or lumps of either butter or sugar. it will still be grainy at this stage but that is okay.
  • Add the egg and beat again until smooth.
The butter and sugar mix before and then after the addition of the egg
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa into mix and add the chocolate chips and cranberries.
  • Mix well to ensure all the flour is combined into the dough, and not streaky or any dry parts. This will make sure the chips and cranberries are evenly distributed.
  • Place tablespoon amounts of dough onto the trays allow at least 5cm (2 inches) between each cookie. ( resist the urge to eat the cookie dough )
  • Bake in preheated oven for 9-10 minutes per tray.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the tray then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Old to new

So these steak knives are older than my kids. Picked up all those years ago for just a couple of dollars each, as part of a table setting when we had a family Christmas meal. I had recalled a previous event, where people complained for a sharp knife; to cut bread, spanokopita, cheese, meats or whatever. Hence their purchase so to allow our guest to at least enjoy their meal unencumbered.

Anyway, moving forward a decade or so and innumerable trips through the dishwasher had removed their cheap flaky varnish to leave the wood bleached bare, a dull grey and open to bacteria.

Therefore, with little else to do in lockdown, I got the food grade varnish out. This stuff is usually for worktops and chopping boards, and I have used for just that, so knew it would be safe.

It did not take long to dip and brush the excess off each one. Perhaps 5 minutes total. A quick wipe of the blades with kerosene to remove drips, and then allowed to air dry outside for a day.

I repeated the process the next day, and allowed 2 days to really allow the varnish to dry. A hand wash to clean and they came up great.

I love the result! In less time than it took to write this post, they look better than new, and it turns out there’s actually two sorts of wood here!

The dark red which is similar to an Australian RedGum, and the blonde-ish is close to an oak. If you know the actual wood used, please leave a comment below.

Now I would not reccommend doing this with your wooden stirring spoons, as the varnish would leach into your boiling pot of marinara, apple sauce or katsu curry. But for any knife handles or other handles not subject to high temps or acidic /alkaline enviroments, this is a real change for the better and will protect the wood from damage or splitting and so you (anf your food) from splinters.

Plus, as the picture below shows, don’t they look just so much better.

Puff Pastry Sausage rolls

This is just a quick post about one of my all time favourite foods, the sausage roll. If you have no idea what a “sausage roll” is, then I would ask you to please read on.

Hot Beef Sausage roll, straight from the oven
Hot Beef Sausage roll, straight from the oven

A traditional British savoury snack, dating back long before the equivalent of the US hotdog. The bun is instead pastry, the filling is sausage meat, and once baked is generally served hot, but are equally tasty cold.

The recipe is simple enough, and is one that readily lends itself to interpretation, amendment and change. I will not claim this to be the best recipe, but I will claim that these are the absolute bestest I have made this week. What I like about this recipe is the ease it comes together, requiring only vague measurements. There is no need to stress over a little extra of this or that here.

The pastry I used is the pre-made, pre-rolled, frozen variety available in any supermarket, and the filling is made in the food processor, so is also convenient for those wary of their knife skills.

The pastry used is usually puff, but a shortcrust works really well, which was how my mum would make them. The sausage filling is limited only by your options for available sausages or sausage meat. Even no-meat vegan sausages make good sausage rolls. in this instance for the photos I used a beef sausage mix.

For the filling you will need about 500g or 1lb of good quality raw sausage meat. Usually this would be beef, but may be pork, lamb or a combination. The meat can be either bought as a lump, or you can buy some raw sausages and squeeze the filling from the casing. The latter is a little messy but can certainly expand your options on flavour.

If you are buying from a good butcher, they will make their own sausages, so may have some sausage meat in the flavour you want in their cold storeroom. It is therefore worth an ask what they have, and what is in it. The conversation with them may add further ideas and will only improve the final quality.

NOTE – This recipe includes Carrot as well, and just like the argument of so many ingredients to so many dishes, ( Pineapple pizza) it is a personal taste, not a rule. If you wish to make these but want to leave the carrot out as its ‘wrong’ by all means do so.

ALSO NOTE – there is no added salt to this recipe! Sausages are usually full of salt, so there is no need for more.

Recipe

Ingredients

MetricImperialItem
4 sheets
30 cm by 30 cm
4 sheets
12 inch x 12 inch
Puff pastry sheets – the pre -rolled and frozen type
(defrost them before starting)
500g1 lbSausage meat – as per notes above
11Small to Medium Onion
11Large Carrot
22Slices of bread – or 100g – 1 cup Breadcrumbs
20ml1 TablespoonTomato ketchup/sauce – the stuff that goes on hotdogs
5g1 TeaspoonDried thyme – Fresh if you have it
11Egg – for glazing the pastry
Ingredients

Method

Step 7  forming the sausage filling
Step 7 forming the sausage filling
  1. Turn oven on to 200C, 400F Gas Mark 6 , grease two baking trays and line with baking paper.
  2. Peel and roughly chop onion, and place in bowl of food processor
  3. Rip up the bread, and add to bowl with the ketchup and herbs.
  4. Blend, blend, blend . The consistency should be fairly smooth with no big lumps.
  5. Peel and grate the carrot directly into the bowl, and add the meat and blend briefly to combine.
  6. Lay out the pastry and cut each sheet in half so to make to equal rectangles
  7. [I suggest wearing kitchen gloves for the next bit] Divide the mix into eight roughly even lumps and form into a long cylinder along the centre of the pastry. Repeat for all 8 rectangles.
  8. Crack the egg into a bowl and add a few drops of water, and lightly mix
  9. Brush the egg onto the pastry on either side of the meat , then roll the pastry from one side over the meat to the other
  10. Cut the rolls into half for large rolls, half again (1/4) for small rolls, or half again (1/8) for cocktail rolls. Place pastry seam side down on the prepared trays with space around each one.
  11. Brush the top with the egg and bake in the preheated Moderate hot oven at 200C 400F Gas Mark 6 for 30 to 35 minutes depending on your oven.
  12. Try not to eat then straight away, but allow to cool for at least five minutes on the tray.
  13. If you have any left once cold, they should be stored in the refrigerator and will last 4 days.
Fresh baked and delicious – a hot sausage roll

Coffee? Tea? Neither? Both?

Hi all,

I have created a support page on the great site “buy me a coffee” so as to help you help me produce better posts, promote learning and using of great ingredients, and of course providing recipes for classic dishes with my own spin.

Oh and of course allow my random musings to flow.

The link is below, and if one day we meet, you know I’ll return the favour!

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/VinceHomeMade

Thank you all

Kathy’s No-Added-Nuts Florentines

This is not my recipe, but a family fave made by my wife, Kathy. She started with a recipe from a book and then changed things around as she felt fit and thus created her own. Please let me know if you like or even try this, and I will be sure to tell her.

Dark Choc Florentines
Dark Choc Florentines

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Florentines are classically made with flaked almonds, and for years Kathy had made them that way. Then our youngest was diagnosed as nut-allergic about 5 years ago, and so all the nut based recipes were stopped.

As these are always a favourite at family events, Kathy ingeniously replaced the nuts with a combination of cornflakes and rice bubbles and the world was good.

The recipe was further tweaked to swap out the classic sultanas for dried cranberries once at Christmas, and the difference is amazing. The sweet/sour cranberry taste jumps out and we have never gone back.

Chocolate

The bases of the Florentines are covered in chocolate as a finishing touch. I have not listed the type of chocolate, as you can decide per your own preference. What is important is you need to ensure you use a bar of regular chocolate you would normally enjoy to eat and not a cooking chocolate, or it will affect the final taste.

We usually have a combination of florentines with a good dark chocolate, some with milk chocolate and some with a white milky chocolate. This combo looks particularly good if you intend to have these on a platter to share, or in a gift box.

Also if you want this to be totally nut free there are nut -free chocolates out there which would be great to use.

Condensed Milk

Finally, one of the best parts of the making is the fact tins of condensed milk are sold in larger size than required here, the extra we usually have simply on bread, or stirred into a cuppa and is it oh sooo good !

Recipe

Yield – 40-45 tiny, or 30 small, or 20 larger size

Ingredients

Metric US Imperial Ingredients
120g ¾ Cup Dried Cranberries
90g 2 ¼ Cups Cornflakes
20g ½ Cup Rice Bubbles – Puffed Rice
110g ½ Cup Glace Cherries
160ml ¾ Cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
120g 1 Cup Chocolate – See notes on #Chocolate
Ingredients
Mixing the ingredients
Mixing the ingredients

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 160°C, 325°F, Gas Mark 3
  • Cut the Cherries in half and put into a large bowl with Dried Cranberries, Cornflakes, Rice Bubbles and Condensed Milk, mix well to combine.
  • Prepare oiled and baking-paper lined trays, allowing 12 biscuits per tray. Silicone baking mats are great for this as they can be slid on and off the trays as required.
  • Place heaped spoonfuls of mixture neatly and with a gap of 5-6cm or 2 inches around each Florentine on the tray. Ensure that the mixture is neatly piled into a circle with no loose pieces, as they retain their shape when baking.
    • For tiny ones use a single teaspoon of mix
    • For medium size use a single dessert spoon, spread to 3cm or just over an inch round
    • For larger ones use 2 dessert spoons, spread to around 5cm or 2 inches round
  • Bake for 6 minutes or until light golden brown, be careful not to overcook especially if making smaller ones.
  • Allow to cool completely on the tray
  • Melt the chocolate, and spread on the base of each Florentine.
  • Allow to set at room temperature.
Spacing the Florentines on a silicone mat
Spacing the Florentines on a silicone mat

Storage

In a sealed container, these will last for only a couple of days at room temp, or can be stored for about a week in the refrigerator.

Variations

Try adding a tablespoon of finely diced, uncrystallised ginger pieces to the mix for a bit of zing.

Ravioli Puttenesca

Jump to recipe

My eldest’s favourite pasta is beef ravioli, the one from the supermarket in the chilled section marked ‘Fresh’. It is such a common addition to our home menu we usually have at least one packet in the freezer for those days when its all too hard and still need to feed everyone.

This time around I fancied something more than the regular marinara sauce or even the extra-lazy jar of premade sauce from the emergency supply. With that in mind, and after a rumage around in the fridge and cupboard, I was able to gather some olives, capers and anchovies, as well as the jar of passata and the other ingredients below and so the classic Puttenesca sauce came to mind.

Now there are stories on the internet and elsewhere about the name Puttanesca for this sauce, I have read a few and seen alsorts of reasons for a tomato based pasta sauce being named after a ‘lady of the night’, none of which I really care about, though do make good conversation while you enjoy the pasta.

Just like Sports teams or pubs in England, or if you look at the names of foods they are all in an apparent haphazard manner, but made perfect sense to the person that named them. Some names are complex, others obvious, some don’t try at all. Using the sport team analogy and comparing to food a few examples-

  • Grimsby Town Football Club – UK Soccer
    • Near zero effort in naming, but tells you where they are from and what they are, even if their ‘home ground’ is actually in the town next door.
    • The food equivalant in this naming type would be perhaps “Lincolnshire sausage” for place name, or simply “fish and chips” for a simple yet clear name.
  • San Francisco 49ers – US NFL
    • What on earth is a 49er, sounds weird and possibly a little suspect, it actually relates to the period of the Gold rush of 1849 and the prospectors that travelled to the city.
    • The Food Equivalent of naming after people would be thanks to Chef Escoffier and Dame Nellie Melba, the opera singer that has the distinction of two dishes to her name ” Peach Melba” and “Melba toast”.
  • Brisbane Lions – Australian Rules Football
    • Play with a lion emblem on their tops, yet there are no lions in Australia outside of zoos and wildlife parks! Why not a Dingo or Wombat?
    • Food equivalent has to be something like “Buffalo wings” which are confusingly named after the place Buffalo not the large herbivore.

A digression to sport is unlike me, but I hope you understand the attempted point. I never liked standing in just shorts and a t-shirt in winter, covered in mud, while a heavy, wet leather ball is kicked at me, with some vague expectation and intention of me doing something with it. I considered bursting it, so we could go inside, more than once. Only knowing that that would invoke the ‘cross country run’ and 10 miles mud to the far side of beyond. No thanks! And don’t get me started on ‘spectator sports’

So back to the food. This is a quick and low effort sauce and as far as taste goes packs a punch well above you might otherwise expect. The anchovies are optional, and if you wish to use on plain pasta, or vegetarian filled pasta, go right ahead, its all good.

Recipe

Ingredients – for upto 4 serves

500g Store bought fresh Ravioli
300ml Passata or a tin of diced tomatoes will work too
3 tablesp Baby capers ( go heaped I did)
1 dozen Olives – I had big dark Kalamata, but whatever you have will be fine
3-4 anchovies ( optional, but worth it)
1 large tomato
A few green beans
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar – basically a sprinkle
a garlic clove or two – preminced/puree is fine as is the dried stuff if that’s all you have.
about a teaspoon each of Basil and Oregano,
1/2 teaspoon of dried Chili flakes
1 tablesp olive oil
salt & pepper
Grated cheese for garnish
Bread to wipe the plates

Method

  • Put a large pan 3/4 full of water on the stove to boil for the pasta, add a good amount of salt, roughly 1 teaspoon per litre. A lid on top will have it boiling faster.
  • Drain the olives and capers, the olives can have the stone removed at this stage, but I prefer to keep them in so they don’t break up.
  • Quarter, de-seed and dice the tomato
  • Chop the green beans into short pieces
  • Peel and chop the garlic ifnot already prepared
  • To a saucepan on medium heat, add first the olive oil, then add the olives, garlic, capers, and dried chilli and stir to warm through.
  • Add the diced tomato, herbs and then pour in the passata, stir occasionally but do not allow to boil.
  • By now the water will be boiling, add the pasta and cook according to directions on the pack, usually 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the balsamic vinegar and half the sugar to the sauce, stir in again, then add the green beans.
  • Check the seasoning to the sauce and adjust with the salt, pepper and possibly more sugar, depending on the tomato acidity and preference.
  • Lift the pasta with a slotted spoon or ‘spyder’ directly into the sauce, stir quickly and serve immediately.
  • Have that grated cheesse and bread ready you will be mopping that sauce in no time

Let me know if you like this, hate it or want to provide large sums of money to me.

Cheers,

VinceHomeMade

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