Archive | November, 2014

Traybake-tastic

15 Nov

I do love a traybake. You may have noticed that I have more recipes for chocolate brownies on this blog than perhaps is strictly necessary. But I haven’t really indulged my love of a traybake with other recipes. That is about to change. You can look forward to such joys as the Malteser Traybake, various variations on a flapjack and a frangipane bakewell style thing. But for today you have the utter delight that is Sue Lawrence’s Lemony Fridge Cake. Checking her book I see that she calls it Lemon Fudge Cake. Whatever you call it, its a great and super easy recipe; and the perfect go-to recipe if you have a spare packet of digestives and a can of condensed milk in the cupboard, and a lemon or two to use up.

For those who don’t know Sue Lawrence, do yourself a favour and seek her out, or at least her writing. Her books are very readable – both well researched and well-written. And I’ve tried many of her recipes over the years and not one has ever failed. That’s some good cookery writing. This recipe is taken from her Book of Baking (although for some reason I’ve re-written the instructions).

If you’re looking for instant results, this isn’t the recipe for you – but it needs no actual baking, and is simplicity itself.

Lemony Fudge Cake

  • 150g / 5 1/2 oz / 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 200g / 7 oz condensed milk (half a regular can)
  • 400g / 14 oz digestive biscuits
  • 100g / 3 1/2 oz / 2/3 cup desiccated coconut
  • 300g / 10 1/2 oz / 2 1/3 cups icing sugar
  • juice of 1 large juicy lemon
  1. Line a 23cm x 33cm / 9 x 13in Swiss roll tin
  2. If you have a microwave, put the butter in a large bowl and melt it in the microwave. If you don’t do it in a large pan over a gentle heat
  3. While the butter is melting, smash the digestives till they are mostly breadcrumb-like. A few larger lumps are fine. I do this by putting the biscuits into a high-sided bowl and bashing it with the rounded end of a basic rolling pin.
  4. Pour the condensed milk in with the melted butter and mix them together.
  5. Add the crushed biscuits and coconut and mix well together
  6. Pour into the prepared tin and press down. Chill in a fridge for a couple of hours
  7. Mix the sifted icing sugar with the lemon juice and carefully spread this over the biscuit base. Use a palette knife to spread it so it covers the whole base. Chill again.
  8. Cut into bars. You should be able to get 24 bars in total.

If you want to see other recipes you’ll find them all listed here.

 

 

 

Memories, remembering, remembrance

9 Nov
The War Memorial
Gatehouse of Fleet

It is nearly 11am, on Remembrance Sunday, a time for reflection.

In my childhood I took part in the Remembrance parade at Gatehouse, the small town where I was brought up. Most of the town took part in some way – I consider standing watching this parade as participating. Some years we had bright shiny sun and a blue sky, other years were less kind, and there were years of grey clouds, of smirry rain and one or two of proper big rain. But still the town turned out to remember. Mum nearly always wore her Astrakhan coat. I never really knew what an Astrakhan coat was, except that it was an inherited, enormously heavy black fur, with a curly coat, like a big black lamb. We all wrapped up warm. We were all freezing cold by lunchtime.

We would march up the town, past the clock tower to the War Memorial, a simple granite cross. The traffic through the town was stopped, and this, perhaps more than anything was what first told me that this was important. Mum told me about her Uncle Bobby who had died in the war, but when I was young I don’t think I really understood. I felt I should think of real people during that 2 minute silence, but I didn’t feel emotionally connected to anyone who had died in a war. I didn’t actually know any of them. I am lucky in that I still have no direct connection to anyone who has died in any war. But I do feel a real connection with this act of remembrance. I feel it is an honour and a duty for me to recognise it in some way each year.

When I first lived in London in the early 1980s I attended the ceremony at the Cenotaph each year, probably for about 8 – 10 years. It felt like the right thing to do, to show my respect, my thanks for those who had given their lives so that we could live in freedom. I thank them. And thank them again. I suspect that attending the Cenotaph is a different experience these days; there will be more security, and just more people there. The crowds were much smaller in the 80s and early 90s, despite the recent war in the Falklands. Most years, I had a direct line of sight to the Queen, who was only 30 or 40 feet away from me.

Since then I have mostly listened to it on Radio 4, or watched the BBC coverage of the ceremony. I don’t remember in what year it was that a silent tear first fell down my cheek, but now it never fails. So, here I sit considering those familiar words:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them

In my mind I feel the weight of the flag, as I lowered it, that one year. The determination not to let it wobble as it lowered, or as I raised it again. It may only have been the Girl Guide flag, but it mattered. It still does.

Memories are important.

Remembering matters.

Remembrance shows we care.

St Paul’s Cathedral
London
The Garden of Remembrance
Edinburgh

Apple chutney

5 Nov

Several years ago a friend off-loaded bags of apples on me. I put them in everything, but the favourite by far was the Apple Chutney from Judith Wills’ brilliant New Home Larder. It’s now my go-to chutney recipe and I think I’ve made it every year since. It’s a long long time since I had Branston Pickle, but I think this chutney might be similar to it, with a deep, dark colour and prefect balance of sharp and sweet.

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Apple Chutney

  • 1.5kg apples
  • 750g onions
  • 1l malt vinegar
  • 500g sultanas
  • 1kg soft brown sugar
  • 1 dsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  •  1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp dry English mustard
  1. Pour the vinegar into a large heavy based pan
  2. Peel and core the apples, cut them into chunks and pop them into the pan with the vinegar.
  3. Peel and chop the onions and add them into the pan too.
  4. Bring the apple, onion, vinegar mix to the boil and simmer for an hour.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly to dissolve the sugar – it will go runny and glossy.
  6. Bring back to the boil and simmer again for around 30 mins, stirring from time to time to prevent it burning and sticking tot he bottom of the pan.
  7. Pour into sterilised jars and cover with wax discs, then the lids when cool.
  8. Store in a cool, dark place. Eat with cheese. Or cold meat.

You can adapt this recipe by adding some fresh or crystallised ginger, using different spices, or adding some chilli, but I think it’s pretty near perfect and doesn’t need any messing about.

Edited to add…. It’s now early January 2020, and although we’re technically still in the darkest days of winter, those days are getting longer and it’s unseasonally warm in Scotland this year. Mum gave me a couple of apple trees several years ago: a Cambusnethan Pippin and a Galloway Pippin and this last autumn we had the biggest crop ever from the two wee over laden trees. I made jar upon jar of this chutney, but also LOTS of the crazily good spiced apple jelly. Many jars have been gifted as Christmas presents and many jars have already been consumed in cheese sandwiches, or under the cheese in toasted cheese on toast. Perfect.

If you want to see more of my recipes you’ll find them all listed here.

 

 

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