a busy domestic blog of knitting, sewing and all kinds of needlecrafts, cooking my garden produce and preserving it

Friday, 29 June 2012

Testing - Pomegranates and Roses by Ariana Bundy #2

For the second recipe from this gorgeous book, I'm trying something a little different - 

Dolmeyeh Barge Mo
(Moorish Stuffed Vine Leaves)

When I reviewed this book I said that most of the ingredients would be easily found in a local supermarket but this recipe requires something a little more unusual - vine leaves. Now, you can buy these in a tin/jar but it's easier if you know someone with a vine in need of pruning - ME! We have several vines, inherited on the allotment, but none have fruited yet. I suspect we could be in for a long wait before our first grape harvest, so meanwhile I thought I'd try cooking the leaves.

The major cooking part of this meal comes in making the stuffing - with minced lamb and yellow split peas, flavoured with turmeric, coriander, parsley, mint and other herbs.

As I wanted to keep the fat content low, I reduced the amount of meat and increased the split peas.

Coriander I had growing on the windowsill and some of the other herbs outside but for the more traditional "English" ones - mint and parsley - I had to use dried herbs.

Then rice was added to the mix as it cooked

Then came the tricky bit - trying to roll the blanched vine leaves round the stuffing.

ready to roll
It was a little tricky!

some more successful than others

The assembled parcels are then cooked in a tomatoey sauce for an hour or so. The end result was unusual without being odd - reminiscent of North African recipes I've tried with the vine leaves tasting rather like cabbage. The overwhelming flavour was of mint so I wonder if I used the right amount of dried herb. The trickiest bit was rolling the leaves up. Definitely something that takes patience! The same stuffing mix is used as well in the recipe for Dolmeyeh FelFel (stuffed peppers) and I think another time I may try it that way - or even just serve the lamb and split pea mix with rice.

More recipes from Pomegranates and Roses
 Khoreshteh Morgh Va Porteghal  (chicken with oranges+saffron)

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Wet day in the kitchen

A day of absolutely horrendous rain, and getting drenched while walking the dog, encouraged me to stay in warm and dry and potter in the kitchen.
I bottled up the elderflower fizz started yesterday.
I at last got round to making spiced vinegar for pickling some small onions I bought 2 or 3 weeks ago.
I found the last of last year's gooseberries lurking in the bottom of the freezer and made chutney.
I made two batches of muffins - choc chip and rhubarb.
And now the sun is streaming through the windows and I'm testing a recipe for Persian Stuffed Vine Leaves for dinner.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Low fat cheesy broad beans and pasta

It's broad bean surplus time at the allotment, so I'm looking for different ideas of how to cook and eat them.
I don't think this is particularly original - there are lots of similar recipes that involve high fat cheese or double cream but we wanted a low fat version. I make this more often with just ham and mushroom, sometimes with courgettes added.

I cooked the beans first. Fried up some onions, peppers, mushrooms and one slice of ham (as I didn't want to open the next packet!) and threw the beans in with everything. It looks better with red peppers as they stand out more but today's options were green or this yellowy one.
I added about a teaspoon of cayenne pepper - which might have been a little too much. It would probably be fine to leave it out or grind some black pepper over after cooking.
Then I added about 2 tablespoons of very low fat cheese spread and heated it through to melt.

And *fanfare* dinner is served.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Elderflower fizz - again!

 A beautiful sunny morning today so I picked some more elderflowers while out with the dog.
This is the third batch of elderflower fizz this year but it hardly takes any effort - just put  flowers, sugar, lemon peel, juice, white vinegar and water in the jam pan for 24 hours, strain and bottle. 
After that you just need to be patient and wait for the 'fizz' - about 10 - 14 days.

My greatest problem is keeping pace with the amount of bottles that are needed. I usually end up with 2 litre fizzy drinks bottles - though some need to be have the taste of the original contents cleared out with bicarbonate of soda.

 With one of my early attempts at this, I didn't stir the sugar thoroughly into the liquid so at bottling time there was a sugary sludge in the bottom of the pan which I had to portion out between the now almost filled bottles. Some ended up tasting sweeter than others.
The recipe I use comes from an old foraging book of mine, Hedgerow Harvest by Amoret Scott but it's an old traditional drink so most recipes are more or less alike.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Clearing out the fridge

 Look what I found in the fridge!
Just what I (don't) need for a cup of tea or on my cornflakes.

Actually, I knew all about it - if you take a bottle of milk away for a holiday and leave it in the car boot for a few days what can you expect?
I don't like to throw food away but could never find a lot of uses for gone-off milk till I started using it in cake and muffins.

Time for baking! 

 Rhubarb Cake.

I use a  recipe I made by adapting one for Bara Brith, the main appeal being that there is no butter, margarine or oil in it. There is a certain amount of fat from the milk, but not too much with semi or skimmed.

Instead of dried fruit I use whichever fresh fruit I happen to have around - in this case rhubarb, with oats and oatmeal added to make it extra healthy!

Any funny smell from the milk disappears in baking - well, I assume it does, I barely got to test the finished results!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

RIP Herman

Herman in his prime, taking over the kitchen

Herman cake
the sad and sorry state last weekend, from which he never recovered
Sad to say, all attempts to bring live back to Herman after last weekend's disaster failed. I'm going to start again soon - not with a cake mix but a simpler sourdough bread type. Hopefully that will be easier to keep going.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Herman the German #4

Herman hasn't been looking well.

 In the middle of jam-making and cake-baking a few days ago, I asked my husband to attend to Herman and add flour and water. Unfortunately I wasn't too specific about amounts. Not enough flour and/or too much water left a bit of a mess.
In an attempt to salvage Herman, I drained off the beer-like fluid and added some flour and sugar. It now seems to be bubbling nicely again - fingers crossed!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Elderflower Fizz

Last week's elderflower fizz - now all bottled (could do with labels still)

I'm hoping they'll be some more sunny days soon else this will be all I can make this year.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Rainy day jam

Another wet and windy summer day! Not worth going out to garden or walk or anything, so making the most of a useless day by jamming with really old frozen fruit - a mix of redcurrants, raspberries and blackberries. It also keeps the house warm and smelling of raspberries :)

 I think though that in my efforts to clear out the freezer, I may have over filled the jam pan!

This is the nearest I've ever come to having boiling jam dripping all over the cooker!

 At the end of the day - seven jars of dark, pip-free jam.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Knitting- continued...

Just an update on my current odds and ends knitting project  It's progressing fairly well - it speeds along on evenings when I watch TV or DVDs then slackens if I spend the time reading.
I've now reached the arm-hole and V-neck shaping so things should proceed quickly.
I'm running into the 'help will I have enough to finish' stage but so far, so good. the main snag is holding back yarn for the neck and sleeve edgings.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Testing - Rose Elliot's New Complete Vegetarian #1

 I won this book quite a while ago and it doesn't come out to be used very often. Although not committed vegetarians, we are firm believers in 'grow your own' which means lots of fresh, cheap veg often arriving in gluts. You would think then that this book would be invaluable - I certainly did - but for some reason it isn't the one I go to on the shelf and pull out when searching for inspiration. One reason may be the lack of pictures - the recipes are presented rather solidly, with often three columns of writing on a page. If you stop and read the recipes, they're very appealing - there's just nothing to grab the eye on flicking through the book. I'm hoping through this idea of testing cook books to get round to sampling more meals from it.

Leek and Cauliflower Curry

This isn't the first time I've tried this recipe but we've had a glut of cauliflower from the garden and it seemed an ideal opportunity to try it again.
This is fairly much what it sounds like by its title - a curry with leek and cauliflower as the main ingredients. There's also potato, onions and tomatoes in there, so checking the store cupboard before starting is a good idea. The only 'unusual' ingredient is turmeric, though it might be possible to skip it and rely on curry powder. I used a hot curry powder but this isn't specified and could easily be replaced by a mild one.

The instructions worked well but it's definitely a recipe where it's best to prepare all veg first - the instructions did say to do this but I thought I could manage - hunting tomatoes in the freezer while things burn in the pan is NOT a good idea!
There was a slight problem with the quantity - too much! What size exactly is a small cauliflower? I guessed but next time would use less.