September 18, 2021
September 3, 2021
On one of my first shopping expeditions after arriving in France I spotted a soup maker at a bargain price in a shop called Zodio. It was 32€ so around £28. I was so chuffed with it that I used it straight away and then offered to get another one for my friend. The second one I got was reduced even further in price to 26€, so around £23 and even more of a bargain! No wonder that even in the middle of July there were only three left on the shelf!
It's more or less the same as my Morphy Richards model which I have in my UK kitchen, but without the time display on the control panel. It did however come with a handy jug!
The weather has been fairly English since we arrived in France, often quite cool, so the soup maker has come into its own several times. It's also a handy way to use up the inevitable random selection of unused veg.
One of the things I like about both my soup makers is that the end result is often a bit of a surprise and on this occasion the soup turned out to be a vibrant green colour. I have no idea why as there were no peas or green veg in it at all! It was, as usual, delicious!
4 medium carrots
1 small leek
1 chunk celeriac
2 medium potatoes
one third of an orange pepper
1 veg stock pot
1 tblsp garlic flavoured oil
1 splash Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
Wash, peel and prepare the veg and cut into medium chunks. Use enough to fill the machine to the lower line.
Add the other ingredients and enough water to fill to the upper line and set to smooth.
I hadn't any bread in the house so served mine with garlic flavoured croutons.
Makes 4 good portions.
September 1, 2021
I have a small collection of old Be-Ro books including the one I bought for myself in the 1970's and a couple of very early editions of my mum's and grandma's. I updated my collection by buying the 40th edition a few years ago in a supermarket where they were sold with the flour. Copies of the current edition (41st) can be purchased directly from Be-Ro via their website.
I naively thought at one time that it might be fun to collect every one ever published but have noticed that they can now fetch a hefty price on Ebay. Consequently I don't think my collection will grow much more, unless I stumble across one or two in a charity shop somewhere. That's now less likely as charities are more wise to the value of things than they used to be owing to their volunteers being more internet savvy!
Be-Ro books were first published in 1923, nearly a hundred years ago, and are an interesting insight into social history. Looking at the earlier editions they were clearly written for the stay-at-home wife and her daughters, right up to those published in the 1970's. Since then they have become less housewifely. Over the decades well loved recipes have gradually been changed and new ones added to meet modern tastes and appetites as well as fashions in food.
The older editions can be difficult to date as they don't show the date of publication in them. Many of the early ones don't have an index either. As the Be-Ro book was originally published as a helpful booklet to go with the bags of flour that's not surprising.
Recently I decided to try to find out when one of my mum's favourite recipes, the one for rich coconut tartlets, first appeared in a Be-Ro book - the only recipe book she ever used. I wrote about the tartlets here and then set about finding how far back they first appeared in a Be-Ro book.
I have a copy of the 17th edition where they don't appear and the 21st edition where they do (I don't have any of the editions in between) but typically neither copy has the date of publication. So I wrote to Be-Ro to ask them. To my absolute amazement I had a quick reply from Be-Ro with a full list! So, it was as simple as that, all I had to do was ask!
It seems my mum's favourite recipe first appeared somewhere between 1954 and 1958, which does make sense. Being married in 1950 it seems logical that she would have first made them some time between those dates.
Here is the list of publication dates as given to me by Be-Ro:
41st & Current Edition 2009
July 12, 2021
June 18, 2021
Once I was reminded of it I couldn't wait to make it again myself - I first made it years ago and wrote about it here. It's a delicious cake with a lovely texture, so quick to rustle up but doesn't hang around - it's very moreish (as my mum used to say). Highly recommended.
Well, at long last we will soon be on our way to France! It's been a trial getting organised as you might like to read here and there is still much to do. The blog will be going to sleep for a while and hopefully my next post will be from our house in France!
June 4, 2021
June 3, 2021
I used the same recipe for this cake as for the summer fruit streusal cake which I first made last year. It's one of those endlessly adaptable recipes that never fails to please and comes from the excellent little book "The Weekend Cookbook" by Catherine Hill.
This time I used a few slim stalks of rhubarb from the garden, choosing the reddest ones in preference to the green, and a handful of strawberries. The golden caster sugar gives it a slightly caramel flavour and the demerara sugar topping a bit of crunch. I did wonder about adding a little vanilla extract but it didn't need it. Rhubarb and strawberries go well together and it was a delicious cake with a nice texture.
The crunch was diminished after a couple of days as I stored the cake in the fridge because of the fresh fruit, but it was still good to eat. It really is a lovely cake to have either with a cup of tea, a glass of chilled rosé or served warm with custard for dessert. Highly recommended.
May 3, 2021
Following on from the previous post about soup weather, another soup that I made recently is pea and ham soup.
One of my dad's favourite things to eat is gammon. If we were to take him for a pub lunch he would mostly have gammon with egg and chips. At home we usually have a small smoked gammon joint that you simply bake in the oven, roasted in an old fashioned enamel roaster just like Mum used to use for the Sunday roast every week. (I spotted one of them in a local charity shop in immaculate condition for 75p a while ago and it's been in regular use ever since.)
When the weather turned chilly again we reverted to comfort food and had cauliflower cheese and mash with our gammon joint. There is a generous amount of meat on these joints and the leftovers can be used in a multitude of ways - not least of which sliced, in a excellent ham, cheese and pickle sandwich. The other thing it's good for is soup.
I cut the gammon into thick slices then small dice. Most went into the pot and I reserved a few for garnish when the soup was cooked. The quantity of meat does not need to be precise and you can use more or less any kind of cooked ham.
It was delicious!
About a third (250g) of a small gammon joint, cooked, or a couple of slices of thick ham
350g frozen peas
1 medium potato
1 medium onion
1 vegetable stock pot
Peel and chop the onion and potato. Chop or cut the gammon or ham into small dice.
Tip the peas into the machine, then the chopped potato and onion. Reserve a few bits of meat for garnish if you like, otherwise add all of it to the machine with the stock pot.
Cover with water to the lower line. Season with pepper (ham is quite salty enough) and cook on smooth.
Add a swirl of cream or crème fraîche and a sprinkle of chopped parsley before scattering the reserved chopped ham on top. Otherwise just dig straight in!
Serves 4 generously.
April 30, 2021
In the early part of April the weather was lovely and warm for several days. Lulled into false sense of security we got the bbq out and even had to use the umbrella (the sunshade kind) for a couple of afternoons. I donned t-shirts and cropped linen trousers, stocked the fridge with Italian rosé wine and looked forward to the kind of spring we had last year during the early part of the lockdown.
Then over one weekend winter returned. Cold winds, hail and dull, grey skies. Out came the soup maker again!
Having found that some soups can turn out slightly bland, I've been looking for ways of adding flavour and spotted this product on the supermarket shelves amongst the stock pots and cubes. I decided to give it a try. I expect it's very similar to the Maggi seasoning that you get in France.
This soup is one that was doing the rounds of the soup maker forums and I was dying to have a go. It uses frozen cauliflower cheese. I never knew that such a thing existed! The finished soup was very much like drinking liquid cauliflower cheese, which is hardly surprising! Delicious!
I put the cauliflower straight from the freezer into the machine and used hot water, although some recipes said just use cold water as normal. Most said that either way there was no need to defrost the cauliflower.
1 680g bag frozen cauliflower cheese (mine came from Tesco at £2 a bag)
1 small onion
1 small potato
1 full tsp Knorr liquid seasoning
Peel and chop the onion and potato and add to the machine. Tip the bag of cauliflower on top. Season with salt and pepper (I added my pepper afterwards). Add the liquid seasoning, fill to the top line with hot water and cook on smooth.
Serves 4 generously.
April 14, 2021
It's a lovely, moist cake and less like a full-on fruit cake than many of the internet recipes I found. Date and apple are truly a lovely combination. Great to go with a cup of tea in the afternoon or, of course, served warm for dessert. Many thanks to Angela for giving me the idea.
April 10, 2021
This rather unappealing looking grey bowlful turned out to be a really delicious soup!
It was inspired by a late afternoon trip to our local Tesco. Actually we set off to go to Waitrose, now that we're allowed to go a little further than local. Unfortunately, as the Waitrose stores at Ashbourne and Leek have been closed for good, our nearest remaining are all quite a distance away at either Buxton, Sheffield or Newark. Sheffield is the nearest of those but the journey there is nowhere near as pretty as to the other two. A trip to the supermarket definitely qualifies as a run out!
We opted for Newark but when we got there found a long line of hapless shoppers queuing up outside with their trolleys. So we took an executive decision to turn around and come home - but via Tesco because we needed some shopping! We have suspended our "click and collect" shopping activity in favour of actual shopping for a while, just to see how we get on. The newfound confidence since having our first vaccination dose.
There were a lot of veg in the reduced bin and I swooped on a huge pack of mushrooms and one of baby leeks. I already had an unused bulb (is that the right word) of celeriac in the fridge so a recipe began to formulate in my mind.
One thing I have learned about the soup maker is that you need strong flavours and some of the recipes I normally use seem to produce quite a bland soup. I have needed a bit more seasoning or herbs added to pep them up and have resorted to using more stock cubes/powder/pots, or, frying some of the ingredients before they go in. That's no great hardship because if I chop the leeks or onions and put them in the frying pan with some oil to cook while I chop the other ingredients, it takes no longer to prepare than usual and the whole thing is still ready in half an hour or so. (As it happened I didn't fry the leeks for this one and it was yummy.)
a large chunk of celeriac
a pack of baby leeks (or one large leek)
four very large mushrooms
1 medium potato
1 Tesco garlic and thyme stock pot
1 tablespoon of olive oil
a generous splash of dry sherry
Prepare the veg by washing, peeling and chopping into cubes or slicing, as appropriate. Prepare enough to fill the soup maker to somewhere between the min and max lines.
Add the stock pot, olive oil and water up to almost the max line and cook on "smooth".
When cooked, stir in the sherry and salt & pepper to taste.
Makes four good servings.
April 6, 2021
I love the knobbly, rustic and home made look!
For these tarts I used Sainsbury's ginger preserve, a favourite jam that I like to have on toast. I've also used the same jam to fill my pear and ginger upside down cake which you can see here. (Robertson's make a ginger marmalade which would work nicely too.) I finished each tart with a bit of crystallised ginger, popped on top before baking.
They are perfect for the current weather. As I write this hail is falling and covering the ground like snow. This day last week we were basking in 20°C and lighting the barbecue, thinking that this lockdown business is not so bad. Such is the nature of April weather in Derbyshire, especially during the Easter school holidays! April showers, I suppose!
Last week's weather - prior to the schools breaking up for Easter!!
100g shortcrust pastry - home made using 100g flour or shop bought
a few teaspoons of ginger jam or marmalade
50g soft margarine
50g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
50g dessicated coconut
12 pieces of crystallised ginger (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk 4. Grease a 12 hole patty tin.
Roll out the pastry and cut twelve 3" (7.5cm) circles using a fluted pastry cutter. Gently press one circle into each hole and put about ½ tsp jam in the centre of each one. (This doesn't sound much but any more will cause the jam to leak out and boil over when cooked.)
In a small bowl, beat together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and the coconut.
Plop about 1 tsp of the coconut mixture on top of the jam in each tart, teeming and ladling until it's all used up and shared out evenly, and push the mixture to the edges of each one to seal in the jam.
Drop a piece of crystallised ginger into the centre of each one.
Bake for about 20 minutes until the coconut mixture is risen and golden. Cool before serving as the jam will be very hot.
Makes 12 tarts.
March 23, 2021
I used one of the enormous Bramleys and cooked the slices to soften them before stirring in the unused berries. A regular two-egg all-in-one sponge topped the fruit and the finished pud was delicious.
I really should make this as an intended pudding, not just one that uses up stuff that needs using up!
The sponge itself would be lovely flavoured with orange or lemon zest, or maybe a Black Forest version, using a chocolate sponge and my tin of cherry pie filling (another rogue internet purchase) would be nice. As would a pear and almond version using almond essence in the sponge. I could even ice it with a water icing. Hmmm....maybe those large packs of pastry could be useful after all. Or I could, of course, make my own!Ingredients
1 large or 2 small cooking apples
a handful of blueberries and raspberries
2 tblsp granulated sugar
a pack of ready made, ready rolled shortcrust pastry (brought to room temperature)
4ozs self raising flour
4 ozs caster sugar
4 ozs soft margarine (I used Stork)
(a splash of milk if needed)
Peel and slice the apple into a small saucepan. Add a splash of water and heat gently until the slices are softened, not quite completely mushy. Remove from the heat, stir in the berries and granulated sugar and set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180C / 160 fan. Grease a 20cm round flan dish or deep pie dish. Line the dish with the pastry, patching as needed, trim and crimp the edges.
To make the sponge topping, put all the ingredients into a bowl and beat well with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until nice and smooth. Add the milk to loosen it if it's too stiff.
Tip the fruit into the pie dish and spread out evenly with a spoon. Spoon the sponge mixture on top and level it, making sure there are no gaps.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until the sponge is golden brown and cooked.
Serve warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar if you like, with cream, ice cream or custard.
Cuts into 8 slices.