Archive | February, 2012

K is for….

6 Feb

Kenwood!

I have a new toy: a vintage Kenwood Chef mixer. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

My Kenwood

My Kenwood

K=beater

The famous K-beater

Kenwood Chef A901 (I think)

Go on, ask why I went for a Kenwood instead of a Kitchen Aid. Well, honestly, why would I prefer a Kitchen Aid?

I was brought up in a kitchen with a Kenwood (a 1960s model, so a decade older than my new acquisition), so I was always going to be biased towards Kenwood.

Kenwoods are British (developed by Ken Wood, of course!) and you know how I like to buy local.  They may no longer be made in Britain, but I’m pretty sure that the one I have was. And it’s now been recycled. Yay!

And you know what? I kinda feel that Kitchen Aids are all style over substance. Yes, they look sexy, with their glossy red bodies, and their sexy curves… made all the more so by those early images of Nigella on TV dipping her finger into cake mixture from the ever-present Kitchen Aid. I like an underdog. And I love my Kenwood Chef mixer.

I’ll update when I’ve done some homebaking.

 

Beetroot cheesy muffins

2 Feb

I owe some colleagues some home baking. I’d promised one muffins and another doesn’t eat sugar, so it was clearly time to make another batch of  savoury muffins.  It would have been the Parmesan and Courgette Muffins again, if Tesco’s had any courgettes. But at 7pm I wasn’t about to go traipsing round town hunting down a courgette, so beetroots became a worthy substitute.

Now, if only I’d consulted with the facebook fairies before  I went shopping – the recipe could have been enhanced with feta cheese, goats’ milk, smoked salmon and creme fraiche. But there’s always next time.

Pink savoury mufflets

Savoury beetroot mufflets (a mufflet being a mini muffin)

8oz plain flour

1tsp baking powder

4 small beetroot, cooked and coarsely grated

2oz parmesan, finely grated

2oz mature cheddar, finely grated

200ml milk

about 1/3 tub of plain yoghurt

1 egg, beaten

75ml olive oil

about 3 -4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

Line a muffin pan with paper muffin cases.

  1. Mix together flour and baking powder in a big bowl (everything else will be poured in here eventually)
  2. Add beetroot and cheese and mix – try to get rid of the claggy lumps of beetroot
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the oil, milk, yoghurt and egg together. Add the herbs
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix quickly together. Don’t over-mix, just bring everything together so the pink colour suffuses the whole mixture and it has no lumps of flour. The mixture needs to be quite soft and wet, but not runny
  5. Spoon a large soup spoonful of mixture into each muffin case
  6. Bake for 20 minutes (or until golden) in a medium hot oven (Gas Mark 5)

OK – they are out of the oven now. They are more like mufflets than muffins, slightly on the wee size, and not quite enough oomph in the flavour. So this is what I would do differently next time:

  1. Use baking powder that wasn’t past its best
  2. Use the correct size tin for the muffin cases
  3. Swap the milk and yoghurt for goats milk and yoghurt (thanks cousin!)
  4. Add some salt and pepper
  5. Use more sage or some nutmeg, or possibly orange zest, or dill, that would work
  6. Add some finely chopped scallions
  7. Cut some of the milk by volume, as the mixture was a bit too sloppy

Go on, have a go yourself – they are too easy.

And yes, they would be just delicious with a dollop of creme fraiche and some smoked salmon on top. Thanks Barry Bryson.

Resistance by Owen Sheers

2 Feb
Cover of "Resistance"

I loved this book.

When I started it I knew nothing about it, nothing at all. A friend recommended it to me at our last book group gathering – in fact she suggested that we have a book group outing to see the movie of the book when it comes to the Cameo in Edinburgh later this month.  I like this plan.

And when a couple of days later I finished the current book, Resistance felt like the right next book to start. I’m slightly picky about what order I read books in, and never really decide which book will be my next book until I’ve actually finished the one I’m on.  (OK sometimes I read more than one at a time, but that doesn’t count). I downloaded Resistance onto my kindle on the train down to London – what a blissful piece of technology a kindle is! But more on that another time.  And possibly on another place. I need to tell you about our new blog.  I say ‘our’. The fabulous patothecity has set up edinburghbookgroup.  It’s a place for people to chatter about books. It’s in its infancy, so who knows where it might go, but I have visions of a virtual book group – a resource for people wanting to discuss what they’ve read, whether it is online or in their own local book group. Go have a look, join in by commenting if you feel like it…

But back to Resistance.

You’d expect Resistance to be beautifully written, given that the author is a poet, but I don’t think I was prepared for such an evocative book.  It’s set in the last months of the second world war, but it is a different second world war: Germany has invaded Britain and is winning. So,although there is a very strong sense of time, it’s not the time as we’ve seen it before, it is distorted by a dramatic change of circumstances.

The whole story is set in an isolated Welsh valley, opening one morning with the womenfolk of the valley who all wake up to discover that their menfolk have upped and left them in the middle of the night. The sense of loss is almost physical, with a recurring description of the imprint from his body on the mattress. But the women choose to go on as though nothing has happened; or perhaps there was little choice. Country life is hard, and life in the country during the dying days of a war are unbearably hard. Owen Sheers depicts that hardship beautifully.

If you want to see what else I’ve read this year, see my list.  If you have any recommendations for me, leave a comment.  Preferably not chick lit though.

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