Friday, 17 May 2013

Quick food for busy people

Wanna play a game?
There are days that are really busy and productive when I can't wait to do stuff and others when I find it hard to get going.  Today was a good busy day, hence the late post.  There were chores to be done and preparations to be made for our building works (more on that another time).  Keith the dog tried his hardest to distract me - it was very difficult to resist.

Being busy usually means that food needs to be quick but we still don't want to compromise on taste.  Yesterday, I made a lovely oven-baked fish dish for dinner which I can highly recommend.

 I love food that can be done in the oven and "forgotten about" - mind you, I almost did with this one and the crust turned out to be a little darker than planned.  Anyway, that aside, this easy and yummy recipe with a Mediterranean twist went down a treat and was prepared and cooked in just over half an hour.  Ideal for those busy times during the week.

Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

An interesting read

The sun came out a little this morning but still no bees buzzing in the garden.  I am really quite worried, especially after hearing about their decline too in other parts of the world.

We have plenty of flowers and bushes in bloom in the garden and there should be plenty of insect activity but...nada, nothing, zilch.  Mr Happy Larder and I are seriously considering hand-pollinating our apple tree this year which might be ok for us to do on one tree but think about orchards?  And it's not just apples - bees pollinate a large variety of crops including different types of berries, tomatoes etc.  I have found a great report by Friends of The Earth and the University of Reading here in the UK that you might find interesting, even if you don't live in the UK:  "Reviving British Bees - why we need a National Bee Action Plan".

On a more cheerful note, I have found a great recipe that I am going to try out for dinner tonight, so watch this space tomorrow for another (hopefully) tasty supper idea.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Cookie monster

It's been absolutely shocking weather here - yesterday especially we had torrential downpours and temperatures never got over 8 degrees.  Brrrr!  Now, it's not just that I hate getting cold and wet when walking Keith the dog but on a much more serious note I am very concerned about the impact the weather is having on crops etc.  I haven't seen more than a couple of butterflies so far this year and the bees are not really coming out, so how on earth are plants going to get pollinated?

To cheer us up, I made a couple of batches of biscuits (cookies) which turned out rather lovely with a slight crunch on the outside but soft & chewy middle: chocolate chip & hazelnut and cranberry & blueberry oat ones. 

Both were definite winners and replacing some of the flour with oats (as suggested by Mr Happy Larder) gave a great texture to the fruit ones.  I didn't have quite enough dried berries, so used some frozen ones instead which tasted yummy but made for slightly soft biscuits the following day.  I'd recommend using just dried fruit if you are planning on storing these.

A couple of these with a hot mug of tea helped us forget the rainy day ;-)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Cheap & cheerful fridge cooking

I am slowly working my way through the handwritten cookbook I found the other day.  What a treasure trove it is turning out to be!  There are some wonderful ideas in there and one especially captured my imagination: what I would call a "French Toast Quiche" is the ideal meal to use up old bread and other bits and pieces from the fridge and cupboard.  

I made a portion of this for lunch today and loved it!  The bread makes a lovely crispy base, the topping tastes just like a quiche (all without the hassle of making pastry).  Another bonus: the ingredients can be varied according to what you have to hand and served with a simple side salad, this tasty dish won't break the bank either.  Perfect fridge cooking!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Strawberries and cream

When I was a little girl, one of our birthday treats was to choose our the cake for the day.  For me, it was always the same:  a sponge base topped with a light and creamy fruit mousse.  It's called "Mandarinenquarksahnetorte" in German (we like our long words) and still is my absolute favourite. The mousse is made from a mixture of quark (a soft curd cheese very popular in Germany, similar to fromage frais), whipped cream, fruit (mandarin segments), a little sugar and gelatine - it's really easy to make and tastes utterly divine.

At the weekend, I decided to make a variation of the above, using strawberries.  And since the two of us could hardly eat a whole big gateaux by ourselves, we had a couple of little individual ones instead. 

The result was the taste of summer on a plate. :-)

What I love about this recipe is how versatile it is - you can use pretty much any fruit you like (fresh or tinned), change the base to a biscuit crumb one or leave it out completely, serving the topping as a dessert. Or why not fill a Swiss roll (see link) with this?

I had some sponge in the freezer that was left over from my rainbow cake baking (see link), so I used that as my base with dessert rings* (see note) cutting out small rounds and providing the support for the filling.  The base was topped with a spoonful of strawberry jam and I then filled the rings almost to the top with the mousse.  The little cakes rested in the fridge for 30 - 45 minutes to allow the filling to set and were then gobbled up within seconds.

I reckon a birthday cake is good on any day!

PS:  One of the blog readers was after a recipe for a strawberry cake a little while ago - unfortunately, I can't find who it was but I hope this recipe will be useful...