Posted on May 10th, 2015 - Fiona
Onion Bhajis Made Easy
I have been experimenting again in the kitchen and come up with a really easy way to make great tasting authentic Onion Bhajis. Anyone who follows my What’s Cooking Category here on the blog will know I’m a real scratch cook with a dislike for ready meals and try to ensure my family have a decent nutritious meal every evening. That said I am no kitchen goddess and all my meals are prepared in half an hour to an hour. This recipe for Bhajis is so simple and quick to make yet tastes authentic and never fails to delight the family with or impress when I have friends to supper.
Indian food can be as complicated or as simple as you chose, it is certainly not something to be scared of, I do cheat with buying the spice blends rather than mixing my own but after that the cooking is really simple, all my Indian dishes are inspired from food I eat at The Raj in Wadebridge, our local friendly Restaurant. I’m sure they make their meals quite differently to me but I love the challenge of tasting the flavours and textures and experimenting to recreate this myself as all my family adore Indian food.
To prove just how easy this recipe is I have vlogged the whole process instead of sharing in picture steps. It is only a couple of minutes long, which illustrates how quick and easy these are. If you are a fan of your local curry house, do give these a try, I think you will be surprised how authentic they taste and are a perfect starter or curry accompaniment served with a simple salad and a little mango chutney.
Do let me know how you get on or if you enjoyed this post. I’ll happily share some of my other curry dishes which are all equally easy if you like this one.
Posted on January 18th, 2015 - Fiona
How many times were you told to “finish your greens” as a child? For me it was most meals. I try not to be as dictatorial over food as my parents were with me, taking the more modern approach of encouraging my children to try a little of everything at each meal but not stressing over the things they really dislike, usually anything green. As my children have grown up they have come to tolerate and then enjoy more and more of the traditionally hated-by-kids’ foods. However they are not perfect and some will eat more than others. Cooking a roast in my house rarely involves any leftovers although I can guarantee what there is will be the green veggies I over optimistically produced.
|Waste is something I dislike, usually the left over greens go in into tomorrow’s shepherd’s pie or chilli in minced size pieces, and the outer leaves in the preparation stages we save to feed the farm pigs. However I had an inkling of an idea I wanted to try and wondered if I could be more creative and hide our leftover greens in a cake, after all carrot cake is always a success and I’ve used pulses before now. I figured a chocolate cake would be the best to hide both the colour and the flavour of the unwelcome 200g broccoli, leek, pea and green bean combination. I tossed the idea onto Facebook and then felt inspired to take the challenge promising to blog the results, only if it worked!
There is not much left after the first day so I call that a success.
I actually videoed myself making the cake, it is really quick, in fact just three minutes from the start of the video to popping the cakes in the oven. I’d love you to take a look, this is my first go at video cooking, or vlogging of any sort come to that and I think I might try it again, it is easier than stopping to take a photo at every step of the way and a great way to make me tidy my kitchen before I begin!
Vlogging Chocolate Cake with hidden greens!
How do you get on with greens and kids? Do you end up disguising them to get a variety going or just stick to the one or two you know they tolerate. Do you make them try them or just accept it is an acquired taste that comes with age?
Posted on December 9th, 2014 - Fiona
Each year I like to do something for the teachers at the end of Christmas term and summer term. Having just been to a local Christmas fair (coming up for Country Kids this Saturday) was inspired by the pretty homemade gifts from candles to chocolate brownies but less than taken with the price tickets! It gave me enough to ponder on and inspiration hit whilst rummaging in our top store with all the Coombe Mill business spare items. Amongst the odd glasses and bowls I found a set of little prawn cocktail dishes. They must have been lurking for years and were never going to be the latest must have on our property inventory list but would make the perfect start for my Christmas presents to the teachers this year. I dug out a simple fudge recipe, amended it to my liking and with the help of cling film and floristry ribbon my very own Christmas gift came to life.
The test batch of fudge didn’t stay around long and the children were very excited to make the real ones ready to give their teachers. It is wonderfully simple and quick to do so I thought I’d share it here for my “How to Make” series.
To Make the Fudge
You will need:
- 350g Granulated sugar
- 100g Soft brown sugar
- 100g butter
- 1/4 pint of full fat milk
- 397g tin of Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
- Place all the ingredients except the brandy in a non stick pan.
- Heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring gently.
- Increase the heat till the mixture starts to boil and boil gently for about 15 minutes stirring continuously till the colour turns darker and the mix thickens. You can test a little blob on a spoon so set if if sets.
- Remove from the heat and beat in the saucepan for a few minutes to ensure the mix is smooth and slightly cooled.
- Stir in the brandy and pour into a 7 – 8 inch tin and place in the fridge to set overnight.
- Cut the fudge into squares.
If you like the way I have presented the fudge for the teachers, here’s how I did it. It’s nice and simple and uses things you’ll probably have lying around the house.
To do the Presentation
What you’ll need:
- Sturdy glass dishes or glasses
- Good quality cling film
- Arrange the fudge squares in the dish.
- Place the dish on a large square of cling film.
- Draw up the edges.
- Secure in a knot with coloured strands of ribbon.
- Use the edge of some scissors to curl the strips to give the finished effect.
A few fun alternatives to try.
- Try hunting round a charity shop for the set of dishes or even using china tea cups.
- You can flavour the fudge anyway you choose. Try adding melted chocolate in place of brandy, or using baileys or vanilla essence instead.
- Coconut ice, peppermint creams or marzipan cubes in chocolate would work well too.
Posted on November 16th, 2014 - Fiona
Last Sunday was our annual bonfire party. For regular friends and guests who join us for this event there is an expectation of of an ample warming barbeque to warm you against the chilled November air and the smell of the very best Coombe Mill Pork sausages. This year for the first time ever I looked in our store freezer the day before to take out the usual 100 prime sausages in preparation only to find just 20 remaining. I cursed my growing teens and tweens and wondered what to do. I could pop into Tesco during Scout Remembrance Parade and empty the shelves there, but no one would be fooled they were Coombe sausages and somehow it felt like cheating. I hunted around the freezer for what was filling it up. The answer was lamb! With a quick change of plan I took out several large bags of lamb mince and decided this year it would be Coombe Mill lamb burgers made to my own special recipe. On the night all 100 burgers were eaten and I promised to share the recipe so here it is.
Ingredients for approx 20 burgers
1.2 kg Mince
2 fat cloves garlic
1 tablespoon mixed herbs
A few leaves of fresh sage, mint and rosemary to taste
Salt and pepper
3 slices medium thickness white bread
Oil to fry
Make the breadcrumbs in a food mixer and set aside.
Place the onion, garlic and all herbs in the food mixer & whiz into small pieces.
Add the mince to the onion & herbs and whiz.
Add the egg and salt and pepper and whiz till a fine consistency is achieved.
- Combine the breadcrumbs, you don’t need the mixer for this or if you do use it a low setting is fine and the breadcrumbs easily soak in.
Form burger shapes from the mixture
Heat a deep fat fryer or place oil in a pan and seal the burgers for approximately 15 seconds in the fryer, 15 seconds each side in a frying pan. This stops them falling apart when you handle them on the BBQ.
- BBQ or cook in a hot oven 200 degrees for approximately 20 minutes
Perfect in fluffy baps (bought or homemade) with sauces of your choice and sliced cheese or with homemade chunky chips. They went down a treat with young and old alike at our bonfire party and for a midweek supper.
Variations on Lamb Burgers
To Make Vegetarian Burgers instead replace the meat with drained tins of chick peas and kidney beans and proceed as above.
For an alternative flavour try swapping the herbs above for mild curry powder or paprika. Oregano and thyme also work well.
Other mince meat such as Pork, Beef or Turkey will also work for burgers, the quality matters more than the animal it is from. Have some fun and experiment with your favourite seasonings using the base recipe.
Posted on September 26th, 2014 - Fiona
Blackberry picking & Baking
Activity hour has really taken off this year and I’ve found the more we do, the more ideas we have. When something goes down really well we try to repeat it and in doing so the activity develops too. One of my favourite sessions this autumn has been blackberry picking and baking muffins.
We start by distributing plastic containers and giving each child a target of how many blackberries to pick. I am always surprised by how many have never picked blackberries before so I always begin with a little quiz on what to do and what to avoid before we set off.
The Mums and Dads help to ensure the children keep to the rules as we set off foraging on the farm.
With our number quotas met we head back to my house and channel everyone in doors to wash hands while I wash the blackberries. The children then gather at my garden bench to stir the blackberries into my premade muffin mix. I like to let the children all have a stir, lay out the baking cases and a chance to fill them with the mixture. This can be a challenge even for the more dexterous children, but a little slop never hurt and it is a great way to get them interested in baking. For all those who have tried my muffins and asked after the recipe here it is. It really is so simple that anyone could knock a batch up in minutes.
They cook at 200 degrees in just 15 minutes but the berries inside can be very hot straight from the oven so I always cool them on some racks for 5 to 10 minutes before allowing the children to taste their handiwork.
This gives us a little time to fill in with another craft and take their minds of the delicious smells coming from the kitchen.
With the older children we used the time to make hair braids from coloured wool. Farmer Kym is the expert and had all the children paired up each taking it in turn to braid their plait under instruction. We slipped a hair grip into the end to make them into removable hair braids while the boys tied them around wrists as friendship braids. If you are interested in how to make these keep an eye on my How to Make Craft posts as I will be doing a step by step guide.
With the younger children their attention is already wavering so some fabric colouring and a little bounce on the trampoline with Clio in charge soon fills in the time till they can all get stuck into a warm muffin and head off with Guy for the afternoon train ride.
Joining in with Country Kids
If you have been enjoying time outdoors with the children please come and join me on the linky. Country Kids is all about getting outdoors and having some screen free family time. Posts can be Country or Urban but must be outdoors and include children. Whether you have been playing, crafting, learning or going on a family adventure I’d love to hear about it. Please grab the badge code below or link back here and remember to check out some of the other posts. There are always some great ideas.
I always comment on every post that links up with me but doing this has led to some commenting systems seeing me as spam *sobs*. If you don’t see a comment from me check your spam, I am probably lurking there!
Country Kids is around in these communities, I’d love you to join me there:
Pin on the Pinterest Board Just ask for an invite to pin and include Country Kids on your pins for me to stop by on your boards too (no need for a hash tag in Pinterest)
Join the Google Plus community page for Country Kids and add #CountryKids to your tag elsewhere for a +1 from me
Share your posts on Instagram and Twitter with #CountryKids for a like or a re-tweet
A few of my favourites from last week:
Baked Potato Mummy has the perfect answer to a fear of bugs
Redpeffer discovers a local day out where the children relished the interactive learning activities
Mummyshire treated the children to the local town street fair
Raisie Bay enjoys the fun of a local festival
Posted on July 14th, 2014 - Fiona
A recipe rescued from disaster
Last week our fridge freezer failed. The fridge froze ands the freezer began to defrost. With a large family and a spare freezer I managed to use or save most things, however in the bottom of the fridge were 4 frozen lemons, ready for my evening Gin a Tonics. Not that I need that many you understand but they were on a deal. Anyway it wasn’t much of a bargain when they were all frozen solid and I was scratching my head as to how to do anything but throw them out when inspiration struck. I had a recipe I use for orange cake that involves boiling the whole oranges so I thought I would try adapting it to make a lemon cake and am pleased to report it worked perfectly.
About this cake
This cake is ideal for any celiac as it contains no flour, it is also free from butter, oils or margarine and packed with goodness. The texture is so soft and moist it is best eaten as a desert with a spoon when cooked as a whole cake, though I also made some little cup cakes which the kids enjoyed in their packed lunches. I would recommend storing it in the fridge where it will keep happily for a week. Unlike most cakes, just placing it in an airtight container will only keep it fresh for a couple of days.
4 whole lemons washed
300g granulated sugar
6 eggs separated
200g ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1. Boil the lemons for an hour, no need to freeze first!
2.Whisk the egg whites till it holds in fluffy peaks.
3. Drain and Liquidize the whole lemons
4. Mix the egg yolks, almonds, sugar and baking powder into the liquidized lemons.
5. Fold in the egg whites
6. Transfer to a 9 inch / 20cm greased or lined cake tin or smaller and fill some cup cases as I did. You can fill to close to the top as the mixture tends to set where it is rather than rise with the folded egg whites providing the lightness to the cake.
7. Bake in a preheated oven 180 degrees for about an hour for a large cake and about 15 minutes for cup cakes till the middle feels just firm to touch. I covered the large cake with foil to prevent the top from burning.
8. Leave to cool.
Turn out and dust the cakes with icing sugar.
To make a delicious desert out of the larger cake boil 200ml of water with 100g granulated sugar and reduce. Remove from the heat and squeeze in juice of 1 lemon and a few drops of vanilla essence. Stir in a spoonful of golden syrup and drizzle over the top with a good dollop of whipped cream or greek yogurt.
Linking up with What’s the Story, Magic Moments, Tasty Tuesday Recipe of the Week & Bake of the week
Posted on May 26th, 2014 - Fiona
Inspired by Redcurrants
I have been cooking in earnest to fill our shop freezers ready for the busy summer season. There is now a good selection of my regular dishes, many of which are here on the blog, but every now and then I have an ingredient knocking around that inspires me to try something new. In this case I had found a hidden bag of redcurrants in the freezer left over from our ‘Pick Your Own’ afternoon at Pencarrow House last summer and decided it was time to use them before we return this year to gather more.
I do love to experiment and can never follow a recipe, an idea and flavour combination just takes my fancy and I’m away creating with what I find in the cupboards and fridge. I had a yearning for something sweet and sour for supper and thought the redcurrants would work perfectly with the gammon I had also defrosted. Delighted with the way it turned out I am sharing the recipe here. It is a perfect meal to cook in bulk and freeze so would be an excellent choice for a large family gathering or party where you want an easy recipe to prepare in advance and impress all with a truly unique and flavoursome meal.
2 large Gammon joints (I forgot to weigh them but it really doesn’t need to be exact)
3 to 4 tablespoons of plain flour
1/2 Bottle rose wine
200ml Elderflower presse
4 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 desert spoon Hoisin Sauce
1 Teaspoon of mustard powder
300g fresh or frozen redcurrants
1 tin sliced peaches in light syrup
1 tin mango slices in light syrup
1 tin of borlotti beans – drained
1 tin kidney beans – drained
500g red onions – sliced
500g carrots – cut into rings
Black pepper to taste
Chop the gammon into chunks; boil in plenty of fresh water for 40 minutes and drain. This is the most time consuming stage so worth ensuring you have a good sharp knife ready.
Reduce the heat and sprinkle over the flour, toss lightly for 1 minute to coat the meat and form a thick paste with any juices left on the gammon.
When the flour begins to stick to the pan add all other ingredients except the peaches and mango. Stir gently to combine and place in a moderate oven for an hour.
Remove and add the peaches and mango with their juice and return to the oven for a further half an hour on a reduced heat.
I served with Chinese noodles and salad for our supper but layered the casserole over the noodles for our shop meals. It would also work very well for a party with jacket potatoes or rice and a salad or green beans. It had the thumbs up from all my family so I hope our guests enjoy it too.
Posted on March 3rd, 2014 - Fiona
Simple & Tasty
Carrot Cake is a favourite of Farmer Nick and my eldest Alistair, yet everytime I look up a recipe I close the book again as it is just too much phaff for my liking. I like good healthy homemade food and bake a cake a day to keep my family in sweet treats, however I don’t have the time for complicated recipes. The answer of course was to create my own version. This recipe has all the taste of any carrot cake yet takes a matter of minutes to prepare. Perfect for any busy parent. Nick’s big Birthday party was my mission so the quality is large. You may want to half everything for a regular 8 inch tin size cake.
200g packet of stoned dates
400g Self Raising wholemeal Flour
200g self raising white flour
200g Demerara Sugar
200g granulated sugar
200g Plain Yogurt
200g Sunflower Oil
200g natural yogurt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
4 tablespoons of mixed spice
2 Tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons soft cheese like Philadelphia
1 teaspoon Vanilla essence
Peel and chop the carrots and place them and the stoned dates in a food processor. Whiz into fine pieces.
Add all other ingredients and mix well.
Turn into an oven tray lined with baking paper or two greased 8 inch cake tins.
Cover loosely in foil and Bake in a fan oven at 180 degrees for about an hour until just firm to touch.
Leave to cool then make the icing
Combine the butter, soft cheese and vanilla essence and add icing sugar until you reach a spreading consistency.
Spread and decorate to your taste.
I used one tray bake cake and one round tin cake (one and half times the ingredients here) to make a three dimensional version of the Acropolis for Nick’s Greek Themed birthday party. This was more than enough for 20 people.
Posted on February 3rd, 2014 - Fiona
With six growing children to feed I really can’t afford bought treats. Seriously there is no cookie jar or treat cupboard in our house. My children would go wild for a digestive biscuit or a custard cream but there are none. If there were with two teens and four tweens the tin would be empty! My answer is home cooking and this includes the treats. I have my basic recipes which I know by heart and rarely use a recipe book as quantity and time are my priority. However now and then when I am avoiding going out on a wet morning I like to experiment in the kitchen and surprise them with something new. My recipes are always tasty, quick and easy and involve sneaking in a few healthy ingredients so that when they tuck into their packed lunch or come in starving after school I have something nutritious and tasty on offer. These Ginger biscuits really didn’t hang around!
Ingredients for Ginger & Date Cookies
100g dried stoned dates
75g stem Ginger from a jar ( or 3 balls)
2 teaspoons of syrup from the ginger jar.
275g Self Raising Flour
125g demerara sugar
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla flavour
1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger
Finely chop the dates and Stem ginger & place in a bowl ( I whiz the two up in a food mixer with the ginger syrup)
Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well, for me this means tip everything into the food mixer & blend until a dough forms)
Roll the dough into balls and place on a greased baking sheet, then place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees
Bake for about 10 minutes until golden. Cool for a few minutes before removing from the baking tray.
Enjoy with a cup of coffee before the children find them!
They will keep in an airtight container for at least a week (children permitting) and are a perfect no mess solution for packed lunches. You can taste the ginger but not the dates which just add goodness, fibre and texture with no complaints from the kids.
Posted on January 20th, 2014 - Fiona
For ladies who lunch
January blues have hit and I’m feeling the effects of one too many Christmas chocolates around my middle. I can’t bear the thought of diets, but am very happy to indulge in some fresh and tasty alternatives to the cold weather winter stodge. Nick came home with a couple of packs of reduced to clear figs, knowing that I adore them and would put them to good use. I have made cakes and ice cream with them in the past, but I fancied a tasty healthy supper to accompany my white wine, I know, not great on the calories, but some things I am not prepared to give up! This dish is perfect for lunchtime or a late supper as it is not too heavy yet surprisingly filling, it also has a sweetness to it to take away my need for chocolate. I am going to cook this for a girl’s night as I know all my friends would love it, Farmer Nick on the other hand took one look and was glad to be off to the pub with his friends for dinner!
Ingredients for 2 to 3 people
1 medium butternut squash
4 ripe fresh figs, skinned and quartered
Small bunch of spring onions chopped
3 sticks of celery chopped
1 red pepper cut into large chunks
100g dried noodles cooked and drained
Feta cheese chunks
Oregano, salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 200 degrees.
Peel and chop the butternut squash, place a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil in a roasting tin and add the chunks. Scatter with sea salt, black pepper and oregano and roast for 15 minutes.
Remove the veg from the oven, shake and add chopped celery and pepper pieces, return to oven and cook for a further 10 minutes until all the veg are just soft.
Meanwhile make the balsamic glaze by placing 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 tablespoons water and a teaspoon of olive oil in a saucepan. Simmer for about 3 – 5 minutes to reduce and reserve for serving.
Cook the noodles on the hob in plenty of fresh boiling water for 3 minutes and drain.
Place the lettuce on the base of the plate, add the warm noodles, then roasted veg. Scatter the feta, olives and chopped spring onion over the top and place the fig quarters round the edge. Finish by drizzling the balsamic glaze over the top.
Enjoy your healthy feast with friends and a cheeky glass of wine!
I’m linking this recipe with these lovely linkys. Why not pop over and see what others have been creating?
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