How to cook mussels.

I love Mussels.  They make an inexpensive and surprisingly low calorie meal and are quick to cook.

Mussels rinsed in our flat based colander.

This is an easy recipe for cooking mussels, serves 4 as a starter.

  • 1 kg/ 2lb 3oz Mussels
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 Shallot, chopped finely
  • 1 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 75ml /2 ½ fl oz dry white wine
  • Handful of chopped parsley

Serve with French bread

  1. Clean and debeard the mussels.  (I leave the mussels in cold water and after about 20 minutes you can pull the hairy fibre out of the mussels by pulling it up and out of the top of the mussels, you will have to give it a good tug!  I usually discard the water and do this several times) the If any mussels are opened, tap them lightly on a hard surface. If they don’t close, discard them.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a wide, heavy-based pan. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened, but not browned.
  3. Add the wine to the pan and boil for a minute to burn off the alcohol.
  4. Add the mussels to the pan. cover the pan with a lid and cook the mussels for about 3-4 minutes, giving the pan a shake from time to time. The mussels are cooked when they’ve opened up. Be sure to discard any that don’t open. Add the chopped parsley and stir for an extra few seconds, you can add a small pot of cream at this stage and stir to combine the juices, it will make the most delicous sauce but not very good for the figure!
  5. Then spoon the mussels into a serving bowl. Pour over the cooking liquid and serve with some crusty bread.
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Easter Simnel Cake

Shrewsbury Simnel Cake

Easter or Mothers Day Cake

Ingredients for a 6 inch cake tin:

  • 3oz butter or margarine
  • 3oz sugar
  • 3oz plain flour
  • milk to mix
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 12oz mixed dried fruit
  • 3oz glacé cherries
  • marzipan – use a large packet – or better still – make your own.
  • apricot jam

Method

  1. Start with the flour, spice and baking powder – sieve them into a bowl.
  2. Work the butter and sugar together.
  3. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar with just enough milk to make a smooth paste.
  4. As you stir in the flour, add the beaten eggs a little at a time.
  5. Mix in the fruit thoroughly.
  6. Roll out the marzipan into two six inch circles (use your baking tin as a guide).
    Keep enough to make the decorations.
  7. Spoon half the mixture into the baking tin, which should be lined.
  8. Level the mixture and place one of the marzipan circles on top.
  9. Smooth the top.
  10. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 150ºC or gas mark 2 for about two hours.
  11. When the cake feels firm to the finger, it’s done.
  12. Allow the cake to coo, for a few minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack.
  13. When it’s cool, spread a thin layer of apricot jam on top and then place on the second circle of marzipan.

The traditional decoration for the simnel cake is eleven balls of marzipan arranged in a circle. These represent the disciples – omitting Judas.

The cake can be served as it is, or you can glaze the marzipan with egg-white, and a nice touch is to place the cake under the grill until the marzipan just begins to turn brown.

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Norwegian Waffles

 

These are a delicious snack from my childhood that still make my mouth water. I have been known to eat 30 at a sitting (embarrassing I know, but so easily done)!

My children also love them.  Unlike the Belgium waffles, Norwegian waffles are large, soft and fluffy and fit pefectly folded in your hand,  we love them  smothered with Jam and my Mother always sprinkles them with sugar.

We call them Vafler and apparently the first iron may have dated back to the 15th century, that would have been similar to this.  but I prefer the electric kind.  I have found the perfect one for a family so have a look at this Waffle Iron.

Cast Iron Waffle Iron

And now for an easy recipe.

Sour Cream Waffle

500 ml sour cream (full cream)
4 eggs
250 ml plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
150 ml water

Method
Make a smooth batter with all the ingredients. Set for 15 minutes before cooking in a waffle maker.

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Crispy Roasted Cabbge with Hazlenut dressing

A delicious healthy alternative for a winter vegetable.

A delicious alternative for a winter veg.

 

Serves 4

  • 2 Baby cabbages
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 8 hazlenuts with skin on (cook them in a frying pan till they start to turn colour then allow to cool, rub off the skin and roughly crush them using a pestle and mortar)
  • 3 TBSP extra virgin oil
  • 1.5 TBSP cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • leaves from 3 fresh thyme sprigs       

Preheat the oven to 180 deg.  Carefully cut the cabbages into 1 cm thick slices.  Lying them on a baking sheet, brush the olive oil over them and scatter with the salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven for about 25-30 minutes (I like them on the crispy side, so tend to cook them for longer). They should be brown around the edges when you take them out.

Make your salad dressing and add the hazlenuts. Dribble the dressing over the hot cabbage leaves and serve.

 

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Gazpacho Summer Soup

This is a delicious cold summer soup from Andalusia, Spain.

So easy to make, you will also get your 5 a day!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Chill: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Yield: 6 Servings
Ingredients:

3 lb. ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
2 slices of white bread, crust removed
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 green bell peppers (or any sweet green pepper)
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt to taste
Garnish:
1 tsp each of cucumber and green pepper, finely chopped
3-4 croutons (optional)

Preparation:

Soak the bread in a small amount (few tablespoons) of water. Gently remove and “squeeze” dry.
Tip: The easiest way to peel tomatoes is to boil water in a medium saucepan. As soon as water boils, turn off heat and place the tomatoes into the hot water for 1 minute. Carefully remove hot tomatoes. The skin will rub off easily.
Place the tomatoes, bread, cucumbers, onions, garlic and peppers in a blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth. All the ingredients may not fit at one time, so you may have to fill the blender several times.
Once gazpacho is completely blended, pour it into a large non-metallic bowl. Stir in the oil and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Garnish with the chopped vegetables and croutons, if desired. Serve gazpacho chilled.

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Healthy Pasta Sauce

I am always looking for new sauces for pasta that are healthy.  I saw this in Delicious Magazine and I think it looks worth a try!  It is a healthy type of pesto sauce using delicious winter greens.

A tasty healthy pasta sauce. A good one to use up the winter veggies.

Ingredients

  1. 100g kale, shredded
  2. 100g brussels sprouts, quartered
  3. 75g hazelnuts, toasted
  4. 25g pine nuts, toasted
  5. 85g pecorino (or vegetarian alternative), grated, plus extra
  6. 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  7. 125ml olive oil
  8. Juice of a lemon
  9. 400g spaghetti

Method

  1. Whizz the kale, sprouts, toasted nuts, pecorino and garlic in a food processor. Gradually drizzle in the oil as you whizz, then add the lemon juice to form a thick paste. Season well. If the mixture is too thick, loosen it with a splash of water.
  2.  Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions until al dente, then drain and return to the saucepan with 2 tbsp of the cooking liquid. Toss through the pesto you’ve made, then serve scattered with extra pecorino.
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Christmas vegetable leftovers

In case you have a huge bowl of uneaten brussel sprouts and carrots left over from Christmas do not despair.
Fry 2 cloves of crushed garlic in olive oil add 1 tin of chopped tomatoes. Add the sprouts and carrots, sprigs of fresh thyme, a little rosemary if you have it, a stock cube mixed with a few TBSP of water. Let it heat through and you will have a yummy vegetable leftover dish!

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Katherina’s Fruit Trifle

A delicious old fashioned fruit Trifle pudding that will be a hit with the entire family. I have added a secret ingredient to give it a delicious sweetness.  It is easy to make and can be prepared a day in advance, but leave the decoration on the top until you serve it.

A delicious and easy trifle for the entire family.

Ingredients for 12

  • 2 packs of sponge fingers or trifle sponge
  • 2 x tins of apricots in juice (234g pots)
  • 2 packets of raspberry jelly
  • 1  1/2  pints of custard (add 1/2 tsp vanilla essence)
  • 3 Bananas sliced
  • 4 meringues.
  • 800ml of whipping cream (whipped until soft peaks drop easily from the spoon)

Method

  • Use a glass dish or bowl (I have used a bowl)
  • Melt the jelly either in a microwave or in a saucepan with a little water.
  • Liquidize the 2 tins of apricots and make up to 2 pints of liquid by adding water.
  • Mix the apricot liquid into the jelly.
  • Dip in the sponge fingers or biscuits into the apricot jelly and line the base of the bowl and a little up the sides.
  • Gradually add the rest of the jelly on top of the sponge fingers and layer up with the remaining sponge fingers. 
  • Make the custard according to the instructions and when as thick as double cream, whisk in the vanilla essence.
  • Pour over the sponge fingers.
  • Slice the banana and spread them out over the custard.
  • Crumble up the meringue and put over the bananas (see below)
  • Last but not least add the whipped cream on the top, sprinkle with hundreds and thousands or chocolate strands and serve!

Meringue sprinkled on top of the banana

Ready to serve

 

 

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Swedish Saffron Buns

Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Ingredients:

  •     1 cup melted butter
  •     1/2 tsp. saffron threads, finely crumbled (or 1 tsp. powdered saffron)
  •     1 cup milk
  •     3/4 cup sugar
  •     1 tsp. salt
  •     2 pkg. dry active yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
  •     6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     2 eggs, well-beaten, plus one egg white
  •     raisins or currants to decorate

Preparation:

Crumble saffron threads into melted butter. Let sit 30 minutes to an hour (this intensifies the saffron flavor).

Heat milk to a light boil, turning off heat when it reaches the scalding point (with small bubbles across the top). Stir in melted butter, sugar, and salt. Pour mixture into mixing bowl and allow to cool until “finger-warm” (still quite warm, but just cool enough to touch). Stir in yeast and let sit for 10 minutes.

Mix 3 1/2 cups flour into liquid. Stir in two well-beaten eggs. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough (just until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You don't want to add too much flour).

Transfer dough to a large greased bowl and turn to coat all sides. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down risen dough. Lightly knead two or three times on a floured surface. Pinch off small handfuls of dough (about the size of a racquetball) and roll into "snakes." Shape snakes into "S"-shaped buns or other desired shapes (please see my photo gallery of Lucia buns for traditional examples). Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with the towel again, and allow to rise until doubled (about an hour).

Decorate buns with raisins, brush with egg white, and bake in preheated 375º oven about 15 minutes, just until brown. Yield: 20 St. Lucia Buns ("Lussekatter") St. Lucia buns may be made ahead of time, frozen, and quickly reheated in the microwave before serving.

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Cheats Tomato and Gruyere Pizza

As always I was in a hurry and the children were hungry.  As it happened, I had ready rolled shortcrust pastry in the fridge so I decided to make a cheats Pizza!

An easy pizza recipe for lunch

cooked and ready to eat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe

  • 1 pre-rolled shortcrust pastry placed onto a rectangular baking tray.
  • Pre-bake it in the oven until it is almost cooked (about 15 mins).  The reason I do this is so that the base is not soggy.
  • Don’t worry if it makes bubbles, when you take it out of the oven just pierce them with a knife.
  • Tomato Sauce.  You can use pre-made Dolmio or any good supermarket will have their own brand.   I made my own tomato sauce from the tomatoes I had left on the vine. (8 lg tomatoes roughly chopped, 3 cloves of garlic crushed, olive oil, salt and pinch of sugar)  I put all of the ingredients into a hi-sided frying pan and let it cook until it was syrupy and the tomatoes soft. Refrigerate for a couple of days if you think you might need it or freeze it until you know you do!
  • Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza base (if you prefer a smooth sauce, liquidize it before you use it.)
  • Grate cheese over the top.  Sadly the mozzarella I thought I had lurking in the fridge was mouldy!  So I resorted to the pack of Gruyere which was easy to grate and a delicious surprise.
  • Put in the pre-heated oven 180 deg until ready about 10 minutes.

Serve with salad

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