Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hot Cross Muffins

A moment of thought fusion occurred in my celebrity kitchen on Saturday: why not combine two of my favourite foods, English muffins and hot cross buns?

Hot cross muffins: standard English muffin recipe,
plus cherries, sultanas and spices.
Secular version.
These are extremely nice, and they bake in about 12 minutes on the stove hotplate. If you have a top tip on kneading glacé cherries into bread dough without breaking them up, please make haste to the comment box to set me straight.  Is my brand of cherries too puny?

I haven't posted in a while, as I've felt awfully cut up over the state of my sourdough starter. It's a living thing, I'm told, a colony of well-intentioned lactobacilli, so I don't like to abandon it to the storm despite its iffy appearance, but, anyhow, soldiering on, the verbena is casting splendid autumnal shadows,

and posies of flowers still come in from the garden although it's nearly November.

People keep getting in touch saying they want to rush me a truckload of pistachio cookies or ergonomic secateurs for me to review on my blog, no strings attached. Does this mean I have risen from C-list to B-list, or do they fail to realise that I only have seven readers, not all of whom are partial to pistachios?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

flowers and food

Blogging always reverts to the classic themes of flowers and food while the rest of life whirls unsuitably on around the camera moments.

Pink Daughter packed up this year's pressed petals to show at school. She was surprised that her classmates don't know the names of even the easy ones, such as cosmos and hydrangea. The One Direction Official Compendium of Garden Flowers should remedy that.

The last of the unpressed flowers still linger outside, getting somewhat in the way of the bulbs waiting to be planted. I've set up a scientific experiment in the corner by the rocky mound: a bed of autumn-planted perennial sunflower, purple toadflax, and Japanese anemone, vigorous invaders all. Time will tell which one overwhelms its companions.

Pizza with blue cheese, rosemary, and potato. It was a great revelation to me that I could make pizza sauce by sautéing courgette and onion rather than cooking tomatoes.  So bourgeois, tomatoes.

Homemade doughballs and Nutella for after school.   I've considered making my own chocolate hazelnut spread in that idle way one toys with the notion of giving up alcohol, but the children would be upset if it contained antioxidants.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

homemade baked beans

Shop-bought baked beans are my enemy, first cousins to that most detestable of foods, ketchup. So I didn't think I'd like the homecooked sort either, but, with my characteristic saintly approach to feeding the family, made them nonetheless. They were jolly nice.

The English muffins on which the beans are served are homemade.
The coriander is homegrown.
The dahlias are from my dahlia-bucket on the terrace.
The butter is handspread.
Hurrah for me.

To make them, sauté a chopped onion in a small casserole dish until soft, add a tablespoon each of cider vinegar and maple syrup, two chopped cloves of garlic, half a carton of passata, and a tin of cannellini beans. A teaspoonful of cumin or a little chilli powder is good too. Stir and bring to simmering point.  Place in a medium oven for an hour (or an hour simmering on the hob is fine too if you don't want to light an oven).

If you're wondering how big a carton of passata, this big.
Like many slow-cooked foods, they taste even nicer the next day.
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