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Thursday, 23 April 2015

LABNEH

Good Morning to you,

Before I begin, in case you don't know, I thought I would mention that the term 'Geordie',  is a person from Newcastle. 

.... and I love living in Newcastle and the 'Geordie' women I have met are lovely.

Family is very important to them, they are warm hearted and they love to talk, any time, any place, any where.

I can be standing at a bus stop, waiting for the bus to arrive, and if I am the first person at the bus stop, the second person to arrive, will always chat to me. If I am the third person to arrive, the women already at the bus stop, will always include me in their conversation.

I can be waiting in a queue at the shop and I can guarantee you, that the lady behind me will always talk to me, as will the lady in front.

.... but George, who is a 'Geordie' himself, was surprised to hear women talking in the swimming pool, when he was swimming his many lengths.

When swimming, George alternates between breast stroke and crawl and when he swims crawl, he hears nothing but the whoosh of the water, but when he swims breast stroke, he hears snippets of conversation when he passes by.  What surprised him the other day, was that the same group of women were talking when he was swimming his first length and  still talking when he was swimming his final length.  He does not understand this.  When he mentioned it to me, he said "If they don't want to swim, why take all that time to get showered and changed, just to stand around in the water. Why don't they go and have a coffee together and talk?"  I explained that women are not like men, we are different and we enjoy talking wherever we are.

I could see the confused look in his eyes.  He really doesn't understand that we women just love to talk, whether it is at home, at the bus stop or the swimming pool.

What surprises me though, is that he does not understand, because as a young boy, he was brought up in a house full of women.  He also has three women in his life, and when Natasha, Danielle and I meet up, we never stop talking.  When we used to take his mother, Sadie, and his Auntie Mim out and about, they would talk non-stop in the car as well.... so women who like talking have always been a part of George's life.

..... and then he asked, "Why do some women wear jewellery and make up when swimming?"

I think it's time I re-read 'Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus' or maybe I should get George to re-read the book.

..... and my apologies to all the quiet women out there, as I know there are many, I am talking generally about the women I have met.

So while I think where I put the book, let me tell you what we are making today.

Do you remember I mentioned Labneh when I made English Muffins, Labneh and Salmon for breakfast just before Easter. Well, today we are going to be making,


the said Labneh. Labneh is a popular Middle Eastern snack made by straining yoghurt.  

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to is,


The Lovin' Spoonful and my oh my, does this take me back to my teenage years.  I was still in school and living in Larnaca, Cyprus, when I first heard the 'Lovin Spoonful. Do you know I can't believe it was so many years ago in 1966. The first song |I heard was, can you guess,

'Daydream'

Whenever this song came on the transistor radio, my friends and I would always dance and sing along... we loved this song.

Do you remember,

'Summer in the City'

and

'Do you Believe in Magic'

I love the songs now, as much as I did then.  So whilst I organise my ingredients, I am listening to and loving 'Darling Companion' and yes, I know all the words and I can't help myself, I am singing along.

INGREDIENTS
YOU WILL NEED
TO
MAKE
LABNEH

500g Greek style yoghurt


4 pieces of cheesecloth 13" x 13"
(washed and dried)

l large jug,
1 soup dish
and
1 large wooden spoon

HOW 
TO
MAKE
LABNEH

I tend to make Labneh in the evening,
ready for the following day.


Line a dish
(I use a soup dish)
with


the pre-washed
cheesecloth.


Spoon the yoghurt
into


the centre 
of
the cheesecloth.


Then
bring the first two opposite corners together
and tie.
Repeat with the other two corners.


Place the wooden spoon
underneath the tied corners.

It will look a little like Dick Whittington's knapsack.


Have your jug ready
(I am using a glass container so that you can see clearly)

and


suspend the 
cheesecloth filled with the yoghurt.
This allows the liquid to drain away.


It is important that the 
cheesecloth bag does not touch the bottom
of the jug.

Cover
and
place in a cool place overnight.

If you place the jug in the fridge, it
will need at least 16 hours to drain.


In the morning you will 
notice that the cheesecloth bag is not so rounded,
in actual fact it looks much thinner.
This is because all the liquid has drained
away.


Untie the cheesecloth
and place the Labneh
in
a


bowl.

On it's own the flavour is mild and tangy,

but
you can add 
other flavours


such as 
chopped spring onions,
chopped chives,
shredded basil,
thinly sliced pepper dew peppers,
crushed black pepper
or
my favourite
crushed walnuts.

Labneh can be served with crusty bread,
crackers, pitta bread,
whatever takes your fancy.

I pop the Labneh into a Tupperware box with a lid and place it in the fridge.  It will keep well in the fridge for 3 or 4 days..... but not in this house, once made, it is eaten and gone within two days.

I mentioned at the beginning that a 'Geordie' is someone from Newcastle, but there are several other interpretations and if you would like to know what they are, take a look here.

It's time to put my thinking cap on, to see if I can remember where I put that book..... I wonder if I gave it away, I hope not, as I need to be prepared, as I have a feeling there could be more questions, from George, in the future.

Take care and I will see you on Thursday.

This week I will be joining,



and











Thursday, 16 April 2015

CORONATION CHICKEN

Good Morning to you,


Do you have a recipe, that as a young woman, you used all the time, but as time went by, and your cooking repertoire grew, the recipe was placed in the back of your cookery book and forgotten about. 

I have such a recipe. 

As a young married wife, one of my 'go to' recipes was Coronation Chicken.  

... but I did not know it's origins, until much later. I discovered that Coronation Chicken was quite a special dish in the 1950's. The creators were Rosemary Hume and Constance Spry, and they created Coronation Chicken as a celebration dish, for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. 

The recipe I was given many years ago, uses cooked chicken, mayonnaise, curry powder and apricot jam instead of mango chutney.... yes that's right, you read correctly, apricot jam.... because at the time, mango chutney was a very exotic ingredient. The sauce was then mixed with cooked chicken and the end result was what I know as Coronation Chicken.

I have not made Coronation Chicken for many years, and had quite forgotten about it, until last year.

The reason for the resurrection of this dish was a family New Year's party, when each of us were asked to take along a dish to add to the buffet table. Whilst I was thinking about what to make, Natasha suggested Coronation chicken.

So we bought a chicken, poached it, mixed together the dressing,  shredded the chicken and coated the chicken with the dressing. I have to tell you it was a huge hit at the party, as it was the first dish to be finished.

So it's on with the pinnie and yes, you've guessed it, today, we are making,


that blast from the past, Coronation Chicken.  I have tweaked the recipe a little.  I know this is an old recipe, but I feel it is time to bring it forward, into the year 2015.

As you know, I love country and western music, so it will come as no surprise to you when I tell you the music I am listening to is,


Rockin' the Country.  Do you know, I had forgotten I had this album.  I discovered it tucked away at the back of the shelf.  When I read the names of the artists on this album, I was surprised to read the name Blake Shelton.  Do you remember I featured Barbara Streisand's album in the New Year and I mentioned that I loved the voice of Blake Shelton, but I had never heard of him.  Well blow me down, that obviously was not true, because he sings on this album.  I really must take more notice of the names on these compilation albums.

So my first recommendation has got to be, Blake Shelton singing,

'Some Beach'
then how about
'HickTown' sung by Jason Aldean
and
then
'Billy's Got His Beer Goggles On' by Neal McCoy


So while I listen to Tennessee River Run I will organise my ingredients.

INGREDIENTS
YOU WILL 
NEED
TO
MAKE
CORONATION CHICKEN


1 kg chicken breasts (about 4)
5 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
pinch of saffron (optional)
chicken stock
1 teaspoon of salt

THE SAUCE 

1 large onion
4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
3 tablespoons of mango chutney
2 tablespoons of curry powder
250g Greek Yoghurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
50g toasted almonds
handful flat leaf parsley

HOW
 TO MAKE
CORONATION CHICKEN

Place the chicken breasts into a deep
saucepan.

Add


the bay leaf,
salt
black peppercorns
and
saffron.


Add enough chicken stock
to cover the chicken breasts.

Place a lid on the saucepan
and
bring to a simmer.

Gently poach, until the chicken breasts
are thoroughly cooked.

When cooked, drain the stock
and place on a plate
and allow to cool. 
Set aside for the moment.

 

Place the flaked almonds
into a dry pan
and toast until golden brown.
Make sure you move the almonds
around the pan.

I would advise that you don't walk
away, as the almonds can easily become burnt.
 One minute the almonds are white
and the next minute they are brown. 

Set aside and allow to cool.

THE SAUCE


Finely slice the onion.


Place the olive oil into a pan
and
add the sliced onions.

Cook gently until
golden in colour,
then



add
the curry powder. 
Move the onions around the pan
until
 the curry powder
is thoroughly incorporated.



Remove the cooked onions from the
pan
and allow to cool.



Place the 
yoghurt,
mayonnaise
and
mango chutney
into a bowl
and
mix together.



Add the cooled
cooked onions
and



stir the ingredients 
until
thoroughly combined.

ASSEMBLING
THE
CORONATION CHICKEN

Slice the cooled chicken
into cubes

and



add to the sauce.
Mix the sauce and chicken together. 

Make sure all the chicken is coated.

Place a clean tea-towel
over the bowl
and place it in the fridge
for at least an hour.

When ready to eat,
fold in the



parsley
and
the



toasted almonds,

and



enjoy
with a nice green salad.


Just a word of advice, do not add the flat leafed parsley and the toasted almond flakes until you are ready to eat, otherwise, they will become soggy. I often place them on the table, in a couple of small bowls, so that they can be added to the Coronation Chicken as desired. 

Now here's the thing, Coronation Chicken can be used in many ways.  We have eaten it with a rice salad, with a pasta salad, boiled new potatoes with a green salad and even used left overs in a sandwich or roll.... pretty versatile don't you think?

So what do you think, should this recipe be relegated to the 1950's or is it worth resurrecting and bringing it into the year 2015.

...... personally, I feel it can make the leap into 2015 without any problem.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,



and








Thursday, 9 April 2015

ROASTED GARLIC

Good Morning to you,

Well I never, I really can't believe it.


Do you remember last week, I mentioned that I was looking forward to sitting in the garden, with my face turned towards the  warm sunshine?

Well, the 'weather fairy' granted my wish, as this past week we have enjoyed some lovely sunshine. We really have had the most unseasonal weather.... not that I am complaining, as I have been out in the garden every day.

On Easter Monday, the sun was glorious. There was not a hint of the cold north east wind, which we experience quite a lot here .... the sky was blue, the sun shone and it was glorious.

Unlike the previous Monday, when the rain fell, the north east wind blew and it was so very cold.

..... and why did the previous Monday stick in my mind, well, it was my birthday and we had visited Dobbies garden centre, to buy some clematis plants and roses, but it was so cold in the outdoor part of the garden centre, that dressed in our coats, hats and scarves we whizzed around very quickly.... luckily I knew exactly which plants I wanted as I had gone armed with a list of plants.  If I had gone to just take a look at what was on offer, then I would have walked away with nothing at all.

.... but that is the English weather for you.... freezing cold one week and lovely and warm the next.  We have this high until Friday, so I am going to enjoy being in the garden.  I have to tell you my body aches and I am quite tired from doing so much digging, separating of plants and planting..... but it is a good tiredness and when I see my accomplishments, I feel so very happy..... I adore gardening. 

I think I have mentioned in previous summers, that when the weather warms up, you will always find me in the garden and cooking tends to be a little low key.  That is why, today, I am,


roasting garlic.  It is so easy to pop into the oven and I can leave it to work it's magic without any help from me.

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to today, is,



the most wonderful Barbara Joan Streisand.  I have had this album for years, I think since the early 1970's..... gosh is it that old.

Listen to and enjoy,


Since I Fell For You
or
I Never Meant To Hurt You
or
The Summer Knows

So while I listen to 'You've Got A Friend' .... I do love this song, I need to gather my ingredients... if you could see me, you would know that I have a smile on my face... because ingredients is not the correct word. You will see why in a moment.

INGREDIENTS
YOU
WILL NEED
TO
ROAST GARLIC

2 large heads of garlic
Olive oil to drizzle 

Pieces of tin foil to wrap each
head of garlic

a loaf tin

Pre-heat the oven to 200c

HOW TO 
ROAST GARLIC


Gently remove the outer papery layers
from the garlic bulb,
but do not remove the 
skin from the garlic cloves.


Using a sharp knife
cut about a 1/4" from the top
of the garlic, so that you
can see the tops of the garlic cloves.


Cut the tin foil into squares.
The size is dependent on the size
of the garlic bulbs used.
My tin foil was 7" by 7".


Place a garlic bulb
in the centre of the tin foil

and


drizzle with


olive oil.


Wrap the garlic bulb
in the tin foil
and 
repeat the process
for subsequent garlic bulbs.


Place the wrapped garlic bulbs
into a loaf tin
(I find this the perfect size)
and
roast for 1 hour 15 minutes.
I tend to check after 50 minutes
of cooking, and then every 10 minutes
after that.

You will know when the garlic is cooked
as the centre clove will be soft.
To check this I use a pointed knife to
gently pierce the centre clove.

You want the bulbs to be golden in colour.

When ready, remove the garlic heads 
from the oven, fold back the tin foil
 and allow to cool.


When removing the garlic bulbs
from the tin foil,
you will find a little olive
oil left in the bottom of the tin foil.
I set the olive oil aside and use it
with the garlic.

To extract the garlic, you can either
squeeze the whole garlic bulb
to remove the garlic,
or
detach each bulb
and squeeze.... a little more fiddly,
but it works.

I did not dress the garlic bulbs, because I wanted you to see the roasted garlic in all it's glory.  Now it may not look like a thing of beauty, but trust me, you will love the mellow flavour which roasting the garlic bulb brings. 

Incase you are looking for inspiration on how to use the roasted garlic.  I boiled some spaghetti, tossed the garlic through the cooked spaghetti, with the olive oil left in the bottom of the tin foil parcels and grated over some Parmesan cheese.... it was a quick and delicious supper.

You can also mix the roasted garlic with mayonnaise and spread on toasted bread or crackers.

You can also add to mash potatoes.  The uses are endless and the other positive thing is that garlic is so very good for you.

If you are not a lover of garlic, don't dismiss this roasted garlic out of hand, as when roasted, you will not experience the pungent flavour associated with raw garlic. Roasting the garlic bulb transforms the garlic into a mild flavour, the flavour is the exact opposite of raw garlic.

George and I liken our personalities to garlic .... romantic aren't we.... George is the raw, pungent, down to earth garlic and I am the delicate, mild roasted garlic...... I think we have been married too long.... what do you think?

I am now going to put on my gardening cloggs, make a cup of coffee, sit in the sunshine for ten or so minutes then carry on with the gardening.

mmm, what am I going to make for supper tonight, that allows me to spend more time in the garden. I will think about that while I am planting.

Oh yes, before I put on my gardening cloggs, I wanted to mention, I am sorry I have not answered your comments, but I promise I will this week.  I know you will understand, because what is the saying..... 'make hay while the sun shines'..... well I have certainly been doing that.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,


and










Thursday, 2 April 2015

EASTER SIMNEL CAKE

Good Afternoon to you,


EASTER WEEK

'See the land, her Easter keeping,
Rises as her Maker rose.
Seeds, so long in darkness sleeping,
Burst at last from winter snows.
Earth with heaven above rejoices;
Fields and gardens hail the spring;
Shaughs and woodlands ring with voices,
While the wild birds build and sing.'

Charles Kingsley

I love it when Easter arrives, because I know, in the not too distant future, my garden will be full of colour once again. 

The nesting boxes, which George made, will soon be filled with nesting birds, which is always exciting and today I wandered around my garden, to see what, if anything, was growing. To my surprise, I noticed the tiniest of leaves forming on some of the roses, also my honeysuckle is beginning to make headway. I also have Bluebells pushing through the soil ..... not much longer to wait before I have a riot of colour in my garden.

.... and what a treat it will be, when I am able to sit in the garden once more.  To be able to turn my face towards the warm spring sun and enjoy the feeling of warm sunshine on my face. I cannot wait, 

..... I just need to be patient for a little while longer.

I mentioned last week that I was making an Easter cake today,  so I thought I would share with you a cake, which I often make at Easter time,



and one which George loves..... a Simnel Cake.

Simnel Cake, is a traditional Easter cake, but I am not sure if it is made so much nowadays. The ingredients included in the cake, are ingredients, which were forbidden during Lent.  The twelve marzipan balls represent Christ's twelve apostles, some say eleven marzipan balls should be added to the cake (excluding Judas) and others feel that thirteen should be added to include Christ.

Originally Simnel cakes were made for Mothering Sunday. Working children  would be given time off to visit their mothers, taking with them, the gift of a Simnel cake.

I am looking forward to making this Simnel Cake as I love tradition and I love old recipes which I can tweek and enjoy today.

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to is,



the wonderful Ella Fitzgerald. Ella's voice is beautiful and I can listen to her sing at any time of the day.

Because it is Spring, enjoy,


'Spring is Here'
and
'The Lady is a Tramp'
and
'My Romance'

While I listen to 'With a Song in My Heart' I will gather my ingredients together.

INGREDIENTS
YOU WILL NEED
TO
MAKE
AN
EASTER SIMNEL CAKE

The Cake

225g self raising flour
225g unsalted butter
225g dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
200g glace cherries
100g currants
175g sultanas
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of flour to toss the cherries

The Topping

100g marzipan
1 tablespoon of apricot jam

Pre-heat the oven to 160C
You will need a 20cm cake tin
and 
some parchment paper.

HOW 
TO
MAKE
AN
EASTER SIMNEL CAKE


Butter and line 
a
20cm cake tin
with parchment paper.


Sift together
the
flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
and
salt.
Set aside for the moment.


Cream
the
butter and brown sugar
until pale in colour.
This took 5 minutes using
my KitchenAid.


Whisk the eggs together
and


gradually add
a quarter of the whisked eggs
to the butter and sugar
and then
a tablespoon of the sieved flour.
(This prevents the mixture from curdling.)
Mix the ingredients together.

Continue in this way until
all the eggs have been added.

Then,
gently fold in the remaining  flour.


Fold in the
currants and sultanas.


Place a tablespoon of flour
into a dish.
Cut the glace cherries in half
and
toss the cherries in the flour
(this prevents the cherries from 
sinking to the bottom of the cake)
then
add
the cherries
 to the mixture.
(Not the surplus flour)


Make sure all the ingredients
are 
incorporated.



Spoon the mixture
into the prepared cake tin.
Make sure the surface is even.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes
or
until the cake is thoroughly cooked.
I use a cake prodder to make sure the cake
is cooked.
 I start checking the cake when it has been
baking for 1 hour 15 minutes.
If the cake browns too quickly, place
some parchment paper or tin foil
on top of the cake to prevent it from browning
even more.

When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven
 and cool in the cake tin
for 15 minutes.
Then
remove the cake from the cake tin
and
place on a cake rack to cool.

While the cake is cooling,



Remove a quarter of
the marzipan from the block
and set aside for the moment.




Roll out the remaining marzipan.

Using the base of
the cake tin as a guide,
cut out a 20cm circle 
from the marzipan.



With the remaining
marzipan
and using your hands,
roll out 12 marzipan balls.

Set aside for the moment.



When the cake has cooled,
brush the top of the cake
with apricot jam.



Place the 20cm circle of
marzipan on top of the cake.
Arrange the marzipan balls
around the outside.
I brush a little of the apricot jam
 at the base of each
marzipan ball.
This helps them to stay in place.



..... now you have free reign
to decorate the cake 
as you wish.


I think I have mentioned before that I collect old cookery books and I noticed in many of the 1950's cookery books, much more marzipan was added to the cake. 

I discovered that half the cake mixture was spooned into the cake tin, then a circle of marzipan was rolled out and placed on top of the cake mixture, then the rest of the cake mixture was spooned on top of the marzipan. The cake was then baked in the usual way. After baking, the top of the cake was still decorated with a circle of marzipan and marzipan balls.  

The other interesting thing I noticed, was once the top of the Simnel cake had been covered with marzipan, the cake was placed under a grill, so that the marzipan and the marzipan balls were brown in colour.

So if you fancy an alternative, there are another couple of options for you to try.

My Easter cake is ready and all that is left for me to do, is to make some chocolate cupcakes for George's nephew, as he prefers cupcakes to chocolate Easter eggs.

..... if cupcakes are what he wants, then cupcakes he shall have.

Have a wonderful Easter and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,







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