Saturday, 27 August 2016

Kenilworth Buns

As I write about this delicious bun, Kenilworth is 'celebrating' the 750th anniversary of the siege of Kenilworth Castle.  Over the next two days there will be all sorts of entertainments and enactments at the Castle and Mr S and I are sure to pop our heads in there.

An hour or so ago, I thought I could hear the cannons going off, but it was the slow approach of a thunder storm, which is still raging on.

Since I can find no mention of a Kenilworth Bun, I name this bun in honour of the Town where we are living at the moment.  If we were supporters of the sieged army, we could throw some of these over the walls at night to keep hunger pangs at bay.....but the smell of  baking would have drawn the besieging army, and the house would have been ransacked...I'm so pleased it is 750 years after the seige!

It all started with a lovely bag of plums, grown in Kenilworth, by my friend Janet.  At the time, just over a week ago, we were rather pushed for time, so instead of making jam or chutney straight away, I slow roasted the plums on trays in the oven, then just froze them for later use.

For Friday Bun Day, I felt inspired to 'invent'  this new bun.  I had tried to shape them as I did for the Apple Buns from Jane Mason's Book of Buns.  Most of them I felt fairly confident of having closed in the plums, but for a few which proved trickly: tricky with the plum juices trickling out, I put them seam up in some buttered bun tins.

It is these seam up buns, topped with hazelnuts which could have been picked from the local hedgerows if the pesky grey squirrels had not beaten me to them, which I name Kenilworth Buns. At the time of Kenilworth Seige there were no grey squirrels in England.   I wonder whether my friend Nick at Crustum's would like to bake these buns and start a lovely tradition for the town.

You can use your favourite sweet soft bun dough...there are many versions which include a little sugar, I used 50g only to 475g flour, 50g butter, and an egg, milk, water and yeast of course, and just a little salt.  This amount made 16 buns...50g dough per bun.

For the filling, I used my very slowly roasted Kenilworth plums, and when they were cold, sandwiched them with a paste made to taste with 30g butter, soft brown sugar, and a little cinnamon.  The buns were egg washed before baking for about 15 minutes at Gas No 7.

I called Janet and she came round to fetch a large gooseberry bush in a pot, and pick up some buns for her tea...she did not come emptied handed but with a lovely bag of runner beans and courgettes straight from her allotment!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

In a Vase on Monday - dithering

Yes I am in a dithering mood...too many choices perhaps, or just indecision...and they already arranged and photographed, still not posted in time for Monday!  But I did have a friend round for lunch, it was a nice day, and had plenty of time to prepare a lovely lunch and eat out in the garden

White vase?

 or dark cloisonne vase?

It stayed in this vase in the coolness of the sitting room.  The seed pods were picked up last autumn, from the square in Kenilworth where a couple of trees names unknown grow.  Update:  Cathy asks what they are..and I have researched and can confirm that the beans are from The Golden Honey Locust Tree: Glenditsia triacanthos 'Sunburst'.  Next week I shall take and post  some pictures of the trees in the square.

and so much choice in blooms from the garden, too....

This week: Hydrangea Vanille Fraise whilst it is white and before the pink tinge starts, the seed heads of Sanguisorba officinalis 'Pink Tanna', and Persicaria Red Dragon.  This time I had Red Dragon picked and plunged in a deep bucket on Sunday evening, so Monday morning is was in good condition.  When I last used Red Dragon, it had rooted in the vase, and is already potted up and in friends' gardens!

Cathy who hosts this meme, and was the giver of the Persicaria plant, has an interesting theme this week, and has some lovely blooms grown from seed.  Do go over and have a look at her offering this week.

Sourdough Challah

Having already bought two of Emmanuel Hadjiandreou's books as presents, I was intrigued by his latest: How to Make Sourdough, and have borrowed it from the library.  I also wanted to practice a six plait loaf, so chose the Sourdough Challah.  I left it to prove overnight in the conservatory, and baked the two side by side on the same sheet.  I'm not sure what caused all those little blisters under the glaze.

The bread was light and airy...but maybe we have been having rather tasty bread recently, and they tasted rather bland.  These were the first white loaves for some time!  I shall have a go at a few other recipes and then decided whether I shall buy the book.

Bountiful Summer

Last week I was lucky enough to be offered produce from two gardens.  From Janet I received runner beans, yellow courgettes and plums, and from Roz some blackcurrants, and three small heads of garlic.  Roz did not think the garlic would have come to much as they had 'bolted'.  The seed heads were so pretty that I brought them home too.

Its ages since I had my allotment and grew garlic, but found an interesting blog on the subject, in which Justyna talks about all things garlic.  I thought the purple bulbils on these scapes were rather photogenic.  However with my Mrs Mace Preserves cap on, I decided to blanch them, and put them in a jar covered with olive oil, to give garlic infused oil for salad dressings in the next month or so.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Yukon Flapjacks

This has been our bake for the first part of August 2016 on our Facebook page.....

Being just two of us, I decided to half the ingredients given in Jane Mason's Perfecting Sourdough.  There is still more than ample, after all neither of us are on the gold prospecting trail.  At first I wondered what is so different from the English drop scones or Scotch pancakes?  These are however sourdough, so from an interest point of view, and the challenge of baking every recipe in the book, the mixture was made, and the batter cooked....they taste delicious, but more so if left to rise after all the ingredients are mixed in!

There was still more batter left over, so rather than cook all the batter, I put it into the fridge overnight, and cooked the rest for our breakfast, which we had topped with plain yogurt, a drizzle of honey, and some roasted walnuts.  The ones which has a second rise were rather superior.  I feel that the flour had time to be 'disgested' by all the lovely sourdough bacteria overnight, and the batter had far more bubbles, and I wonder whether this way, no baking powder would be necessary.

When I make these again, I will measure out the starter, and refresh at about lunch time, mix all the ingredients around early evening, and then put the mixture overnight in the fridge ready for cooking for breakfast.

Monday, 8 August 2016

In a Vase on Monday - Grace

My little apprentice has taken up The Vase Challenge again now the school holidays are here...home made vases and daisies, and butterflies too.

This week Cathy's Vase is a blaze of colour, she just kept adding more and more..and turned up all sixes.  Do go over there and see the wide variety of flowers and from there vases from far and wide.

After a severe prunning a few weeks ago, Grace is looking bonny again.  I love that apricot colour contrasting nicely with  pale green leaves.  In the vase, to 'support' grace in more ways than one, are some stems of Leycesteria Formosa Golden Lanterns.  The Lanterns have started to have purple berries, and to complement them, I popped in a few stems of Sedum Purple Emperor still in bud,and  a piece of floppy euphorbia.  I'm not sure which it is.  It self seeds around the garden, is a little prone to mildew, and is often cut down with the expectation of fresh purple leaves within a couple of weeks.  It may be amygdaloides purpurea, but I would welcome suggestions.

 Finally a couple of fern leaves which don't really show up well in this picture: Athyrium Noponicum, and Athyrium Otophorum 'Okanum', which either have a purple stem or purple bits.

It is now getting so hot that the only room to put flowers in where they will last more than a day or so is the north facing living room.  I posed the flowers with some shells which I have had for many years.  The large one is almost the same colour as the rose, my mother had this Triton Trumpet Shell up on her pelmet for many years.  Its one of my many lovely treasures.  I made up this vase a couple f days ago, when I got up early to cut the flowers, and I knew we would be lolling around Saturday and Sunday and could enjoy this one over the weekend.  Monday morning is a bit of rush for me

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Plums galore

Here are half of the plums ready to be cut up for the jam to which a little rum was added, then other half is already being made into Chutney.  Many thanks to Janet for perfect home grown Opal dessert plums.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Bolo de Caco

 I had started to write up about our holiday in April when we spent a couple of weeks in the Spring in Madeira.  Looking back I can see that I had not even scratched the surface, so if I have time over the next few weeks there will be more about our various trips.

I love yeasted breads and cakes, and when on holiday I am always on the look out for local delicacies.  In Madeira, we both fell in love with Bolo de Caco, a small flattish bread which is cooked on a stone or griddle over a wood fire, and we saw some being baked on a beach.  We had Bolo de Caco in various eateries, having first had it suggested to us when we were booking up our day trips, by a lovely English lady who had lived in Madeira for several years.

We used to give ourselves the challenge of a long walk, and then finding the best place for lunch, on our lazy days when we were not walking along scary trails which had precipitous drops to one side or the other!  This place a few miles down the coast was our best find, not only did it serve up a delicious lunch, but it had lovely views over the Atlantic.

A barbecued thin steak marinated in red wine and garlic, cooked just right and served in a bolo with caco was served up.  It was the passion fruit punch for me, and beer for him!

Just a few days ago, I found the 'white' sweet potato for sale in Asda, and knew straight away what I wanted it for.  I have looked up several recipes for Bolo de Caco on line since our return, so had an idea that in essence, it is a sourdough bread made with flour and sweet potato, the white variety rather than the yellow one which is the most common one in the UK.

I roasted a couple of sweet potatoes with their skin on, and let them go cold.  The following morning, I decided to get started.  I weighed one of the large potatoes, and weighed double its weight in flour.  I took half the potato's weight in active white wheat sourdough mother.  Next time I make these I'll weigh everything and update this.  I mashed up the potato with a fork, but next time I'll process it with some water to get it smooth.

To the sourdough starter, I added the sweet potato, and half the flour, and some water to make a very soft and almost runny dough.  This was left to mature until the following morning, when I added a little salt, the remaining flour and sufficient water to give a very soft dough.  After ten minutes or so of kneading, I left it to mature another two or so hours.

It was still very sticky, so I was not able to get out the camera to take pictures.  Using floured hands and cutter, the mixture was portioned into about 100g pieces, and then shaped into rounds.  I had put some flour in a cereal bowl and after a couple found it quite easy to shape by putting the piece of dough in the bowl and turning it over and patting it down.  Then they were left to rise on a well floured tea towel, and then covered until nicely fluffy about another 2 hours.

I got the griddle heating over two low flames.  With four on the griddle at a time, I left them to cook gently, turning them over a few times.

as each batch got cooked, I balanced them on their sides and kept twirling them around to get the edges baked.

I read on one of the many blogs about this great bread that one is not meant to cut them, Miguel Forte gives a good recipe but with yeast rather than the sourdough version which I personally came across on Madeira.  He explains about going round the edges with a fork and then open them up to give a rough surface which I imagine would then hold the garlic butter beautifully.

I had made some extra large turkey burgers, and when cooked, topped with fried red onions and home made mango chutney, we sat down to enjoy our meal, and talked about our holiday in Madeira.  As usual most are now frozen and ready to bring out and enjoy.

Monday, 1 August 2016

In a Vase on Monday: Seeds shared

Cathy who hosts this meme is quite in agreement with this seed sharing habit: I have a few packets waiting to be sown...and I wonder how many blooms Cathy has grown from seed in her very pink vase this week?  Do go and have a look there, and also through the comments at what other contributors have come up with.  Do take your time, dip in during the week..there is so much of interest.

Looking back its nearly a year since I posted a vase with Nasturtiums.  If you would like to learn about one of their other names: Lark Heels, go there and have a look.  I had thought to make up a vase with quite different flowers, but it is on account on an amazing encounter and gift yesterday, that I have decided to first show my little grouping of flowers, branch with lichen, and seed packet.

Mr S and I went out yesterday to Upton House principally to donate a collection of vintage cookery books, some dating back to 1850 to the National Trust.  We noticed that they had many old ones available for people to look through, as well as a section when some were for sale.  The little branch covered with three types of lichen came from a pile of rubish in the garden, and it just matched the glaze on my little vase.

These nasturtiums just grew themselves from seeds which had dropped out in the patch where they were growing last year.  I also had packed many and given them away last autumn.  I love both the form of the leaf and also the seed head.

It was going to be some time before we could enter the house with our timed tokens, and thought to see what was going on in the courtyard.  I got chatting to Lynda who I believe is a volunteer gardener, also promoting Grow Organic which I remember as  Ryton, and of which I used to me a member.  Lynda also works with some people with special needs on gardening projects.  We talked about composting and about my 'late' wormery.  When we talked about growing food, I forgot to say that I did have a couple of gooseberry bushes, some blackcurrants, an apple tree, and blueberries!  I did however tell Lynda about our In a Vase on Monday, so I hope she will read this some day, and maybe even contribute with others.

Lynda asked if I used the nasturtium seeds to made 'poor man capers'.  As Mr S isn't keen on them, I haven't, but driving home I had the inspiration to use them in some piccalilli...

Lynda was sporting a very attractive peas in a pod knitted brooch, and I explained that being a knitter I would love to knit some for my gardening friends!  Out came a copy of the pattern which I now have.  Some knitters at Upton House had knitted them for all the volunteer gardeners.  Ought  I to knit one to give as a prize at our Horticultural Club Autumn Show?

This was not the only lovely thing...wait for it...when I explained that I loved wild bees and insects and grew as many flowers as possible to attract them, Lynda reached into her box, and gave me a packet of seeds...I almost felt faint, they were Phacelia.   I had only written about the Scorpion Weed a couple of days ago in the Tatton Park post , and had been wondering in the wee small hours, just a few hours back if I could find someone locally who had been growing these and ask them for some seeds!

I just want to show you how my vase from last week is doing..the clematis in bud is about to open, the Reg Dragon may be rooting...

and this vase which contains a mystery shrub rose...which came dug up from a friend's garden refurbishment 'rubbish' in March, with only the tiniest root on it on a thick stem.  It has been watered and fed, and this is its first flower. Any ideas of a name?  The leaves are acer, and the sedge is the Japanese Carex Oshimensis Everest.  When Liz and Janet came round this was one of my potted plants which was much admired, and it has since been carved into three, and these leaves were salvaged from the operation.  I bought the plant back in January last year, and since then we visited that nursery again recently.  Not many of the other plants have survived, but this one is really lovely particularly in low Winter Sun, when the pot comes to live on the patio.