Saturday, 18 February 2017

cake

Last week on a bone chillingly cold day when mist hung low in the air, we made a little trip to the city of Ely.
A city because of its magnificent cathedral, the Ship Of The Fens, which can be seen for miles across the low lying land, but at heart a modest little market town.
We walked a while along the river Ouse before the cold had so numbed our feet and hands, that with a gasp of relief we darted into Ely antiques for a wander through three floors of curiosities.








By contrast, a few days later the sun made an appearance and since then we have been enjoying days of spring-like warmth. 
Such are the vagaries of the British weather! 

So to celebrate the imminent arrival of Spring, I made a cake.
 A reasonably healthy cake I like to think.



To be honest, this was a cake I had intended to make for Christmas, but with our girl being so poorly for the latter part of the year, festive preparations were much simplified.

However, the two packets of cooked chestnuts which I had bought to make the gluten free chestnut, chocolate and hazlenut cake  ( a recipe from the December issue of Waitrose Food) were still in the cupboard so I decided to give it a go.

I have to say that Chestnuts are not usually my thing. 
The fruit of the Sweet Chestnut tree (not to be confused with conkers, from the Horse Chestnut which are mildly poisonous) are very versatile and can be used in sweet and savoury dishes and even ground into a flour, useful for those on a gluten free diet.
In this recipe, however, they gave the cake a rich, moist texture.


What did surprise me was the amount of flavour provided by a relatively small amount of orange zest.
 If you like the famous Terry's Chocolate Orange - you know, the beautifully formed orange shaped confection that with one sharp tap separates into delectable chocolate segments (and I do) then you will love this!



Rich enough to feel like a 'celebration' cake yet not too cloying, this is a recipe I will definitely make again.


Hoping you have good plans for the weekend
 The rumour is that the mild weather is set to continue!

annjenny
x





Sunday, 12 February 2017

cookbook inspiration.


I know I am not alone in this. I have met other sufferers.
The truth is I have a serious cookbook addiction!
I have a pile of them by my bed and dip into them for a little bedtime reading or flick through them with my morning coffee.
I love the inspiration to be found within their pages and
this Christmas I was the happy recipient of another two to add to my collection.


Simple by Diana Henry and Abundance by Alys Fowler.
Two beautiful books.
This past week, I tried out a couple of recipes from Simple.
The first a recipe for carrot houmous.



from Diana Henry Simple.


I'm a big fan of houmous. It's great for a snack or part of a meal with lots of things to dunk into it.
I found this houmous improved after several hours or even overnight when the flavours had time to mellow.


To go with the houmous Diana suggests roasted tomatoes.
Place 8 halved plum tomatoes with cut side up onto a baking tray. Mix with 2tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp harissa paste and salt and pepper. Sprinkle with 1 tsp soft brown sugar before roasting at 190c for about 40 minutes until soft.


Delicious!

On another note, we were promised snow this weekend. Instead we have grey skies and rain.
Do you have snow?
If so, please send some this way. Not a lot, you understand.
Just enough to make things look pretty!



annjenny
x

Saturday, 4 February 2017

spiced tomato soup for a winter's day...


I can't think of anything nicer than a big bowl of warming soup at this time of year. Nourishment for body and soul.
I found this recipe the other day, whilst sifting through old magazines and cuttings.
I've mentioned before that I am always tearing recipes from magazines and newspapers, which then accumulate in a pile on the desk or floor or tucked into a book.
From time to time I have to 'spring clean' and only keep those recipes which I think I will actually make.


Which is how I found this recipe for a rather posh tomato soup, torn from an old Waitrose Food magazine.

I remember being bitterly disappointed when, years ago, I first made home-made tomato soup. My taste buds were expecting the rather sweet, gloopy flavour of childhood favourite Heinz Cream of Tomato soup and the soup I made was nothing like it!
Much as Proust's madeleine evoked memories of his past life, so tinned tomato soup evokes nostalgic memories of my childhood for me!

But time and taste-buds have moved on and this soup was just as warm and comforting!
And with lentils and cashew nuts providing a good amount of protein, it really was a meal in its own right.



spiced tomato soup
Serves 4
adapted from Waitrose Food magazine


Ingredients:

2tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
crushed garlic, 1 or 2 cloves to taste
2x400g tins chopped tomatoes
150g red lentils
1x400ml tin coconut milk

For the topping:

50g cashew nuts
20 g desiccated coconut
20g fresh coriander

Gently cook the onion, pepper and carrot in the oil for 5 minutes.
Add the ground coriander and cumin and cook for a further 2 minutes, then add the garlic, tomatoes, 250ml water and the lentils. Season, bring to the boil then simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Blend the soup, then add the coconut milk and reheat gently.
Meanwhile, blitz the topping ingredients with a pinch of salt and 4 tbsp water.
Ladle into bowls to serve and add a dollop of topping.







annjenny
x





Thursday, 26 January 2017

January thoughts.


Have you noticed that slowly the days are drawing out? With each passing 24 hours we gain a few more minutes of daylight.

Not that I mind January and the winter months. On the contrary, I find something quite cosy about snuggling indoors when it's cold and dark and wet outside.
Nevertheless, there is still a delight in signs of Spring.
A few Muscari on the kitchen window sill ....


...some cheery daffodils with our morning breakfast.


There have been some beautiful, frosty mornings this month, when the sky is bright blue and the landscape sparkly white, when ducks skid on the frozen dykes and Tiny Girlie stamps with joy to crack the ice on puddles.
There have also been mysterious days when the whole earth seems shrouded in mist and cloud so low that hair and clothes glisten with damp though there is no rain.
Yesterday was such a day. We ventured out, Tiny Girlie her mama and I and found ..... hills!
Just up the road!
Hills are a rarity here in the flat fens.
If truth be told, these were man made hills, the result of years of clay excavation for the manufacture of bricks and now a peaceful nature reserve.


But hills nevertheless and also a place to find a rich variety of fossils. This page from the nature reserve's website explains why it is such a good site for fossils.

Here an ammonite fossil.

 


Today the wind has returned.
A wind so cold and fierce, it pierces the warmest of coats.
A day to stay indoors
in a warm kitchen and make home-made granola.



This is recipe I have made many times before based on this recipe from Deliciously Ella.


Not only is the granola more healthy than many shop bought varieties, it is also, in my opinion, much more delicious.


Plus you can adjust the ingredients to suit. In this batch, I substituted some of the raisins for dried cranberries left in the cupboard from Christmas.



Delicious for breakfast ( or anytime) with yoghurt and passion fruit.

Wishing you well, whether it be cold or warm in your part of the world.


annjenny
x



Monday, 16 January 2017

straw bear

It's that time of year when people in fantastic headgear and outlandish outfits invade our town and keep out the cold east wind by stomping feet, brandishing sticks and brooms and waving handkerchiefs to music.
It was straw bear festival weekend.

The present day festival originated from an old custom, when a man covered in a straw costume was led through the streets on Plough Monday, stopping to 'dance' at local pubs. Plough Monday was usually the first Monday after Twelfth Night and marked the start of the agricultural year.


The custom fell into decline at the beginning of the 20th century but was revived in Whittlesey in 1980 and has grown to become a large event attracting dance groups and visitors from far and wide.
It is an enjoyable weekend providing fun and colour in the middle of winter.

This year tiny girlie joined us and needed no encouragement to join in the fun.


Today has been dubbed 'Blue Monday' and it is dark and damp outside as I type this, but as our ancestors who celebrated Plough Monday knew, the dark of winter will soon be replaced by the lighter days of spring!




annjenny x


Friday, 6 January 2017

after the festivities .....




I love the Christmas merriment; turkey and all the trimmings, Christmas cake, mince pies, brandy butter, biscuits and chocolates .... chocolates, did I mention chocolates?
And as far as I'm concerned, a little festive over indulgence is okay.
But come January, I'm ready for something more simple.
A return to more wholesome, healthy fare.

I think we are only just beginning to understand the profound effect diet has on well-being and I am even more determined as a new year begins to maximise the nutritional content of our meals.
Both lovely daughters share this interest and with one recovering from cancer and the other with a small mouth to feed, it is of vital importance to them too and we often share tips, ideas and recipe successes.




And this dish, a sort of warm salad is just the sort of thing we love to eat chez fenland lottie.
Versatile, delicious and nutritious.

It uses as its base two very nutritious ingredients: buckwheat and pearled spelt.


Buckwheat is a seed from a plant related to rhubarb and being a seed rather than a grain, is gluten free. It is also rich in minerals such as magnesium and copper as well as
a good source of B vitamins and of fibre and bound antioxidants. If you want to read more about buckwheat this article is very interesting.

Spelt is an ancient type of wheat, high in fibre, thiamin, copper, manganese, niacin and vitamin B2. Though a grain and therefore not gluten free many people with gluten intolerance find it easier to digest than other grains.


Both are very easy to cook. Just boil in a large pan of water as you would rice. Consult the packet for cooking times as the spelt will take a little longer than the buckwheat. 
When cooked drain and add olive oil, lemon juice, harissa paste and seasoning to taste.
Then add herbs of choice- I used lots of parsley and coriander and some toasted pine nuts and pomegranate seeds.
I then topped it with chunks of squash roasted in the oven ( add olive oil and a little smoked paprika if you wish) and some crumbled feta cheese.












annjenny x




Saturday, 31 December 2016

year end

After a very mild Christmas, the weather changed and gave us the sort of crisp, sunny and frosty mornings that always lift the spirits.

So hard was the frost the other morning, it looked like snow and on the allotment transformed even the mundane into things of beauty.





Such hard frosts are not so welcomed by the birds and this little robin was hopping hopefully from fence to fence.


And what is the best thing on a cold, frosty morning but a bowl of porridge.






.... and with juicy, tart cranberries, even better.

We come to the end of 2016 with thankful hearts chez fenland lottie and wish everyone a peaceful, healthy and happy 2017.


annjenny
x