Happily I located an elder next to my office the other day, off the road and with lots and lots of flower heads to pick. So I made fritters!
The finished fritters were lovely, not the most attractive I hasten to add, but crispy and doughnut soft in the middle. I sprinkled them with sugar and served with some softly whipped cream. The flowery scent is gorgeous here, not to overpowering and it is so lovely eating basically free food!
I think I need to make my batter a bit lighter next time, for some reason it was very thick.
Head over to Colour It Green’s blog for a fabulous recipe and a better picture of finished fritters – she is an elderflower connoisseur!
I love spaghetti bolognese, I love mac and cheese and I like lasagne even better. This recipe is great because it is quick to put together, involves less effort than lasagne and is a tiny bit healthier than macaroni and cheese.
This is a fairly simple idea but I liked how it came together with things I had in my freezer and store cupboard already, and it tasted great! I picked a few of the new herbs we’ve planted in the garden – some oregano and purple basil went in.
Serves 2 greedy people!
250g macaroni pasta
1 tin of plum tomatoes, blended
250g mince lamb or beef
2 shallots or half an onion
1 clove of garlic
pinch of chili flakes
1 tbsp tomato puree
herbs and spices to your liking (I used fresh oregano, purple basil & nutmeg, cumin and paprika)
cheddar cheese – grated – enough to cover the top of your pasta for baking.
Finely dice the onion and fry in a saucepan with olive oil for a few minutes, stirring often. Add the mince and break up and brown. Add in the garlic. Add in your herbs, spices and season. Then add in your tomato puree and blended tomatoes. Bring to the boil then simmer for 1/2 hour – 1 hour til the mince is tender and tomatoes cooked down.
Preheat your oven to a medium high heat.
Cook your macaroni for half the time as indicated on the pack.
Once done mix your bolognese sauce in and then put into a large casserole or lasagne dish. Cover with cheddar cheese and bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes until the pasta is done and the cheese is bubbling. You can grill it for a few minutes at the end to get the cheese really browned.
Dig in and don’t forget to go back for seconds! 😉
I’ve been writing for UK Handmade again, you can find my article on How to Make Rhubarb Jam in the latest issue, page 86!
Am nearly through the three jars I made, it is lovely stuff. I very much enjoyed the cream tea I made up for the pictures. Yum!
I’m a big fan of gnocchi, but I don’t have it often enough, mainly because I’ve always made it with potatoes which is a far more labourious process. This ricotta version does still require a little effort but is less time consuming, from this you get a light and creamy pasta with less heartache from boiling and cooling potatoes.
Gnocchi refers to the shape of the pasta rather than what it is made from – gnocchi is the plural of gnocco, which means ‘lump’ in italian – so they refer more to little dumplings rather than a specific ingredient.
This gnocchi can be served with any of your favourite sauces – a simple tomato, basil pesto, a cream sauce or sage butter. My new favourite is sundried tomato pesto, it is a great sauce because you can bring it together with storecupboard ingredients and a touch of parmesan.
I made do with normal supermarket ricotta here but if you can find something great from a deli or your local farm shop it will taste even better.
To make the Gnocchi
250g tub of ricotta
150g – 200g 00 pasta flour or plain white flour
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon parmesan or pecorino
salt and pepper
First you need to drain your ricotta, put it in a fine sieve over a bowl and leave for half an hour for any residual water to drip through.
Once your ricotta is ready add it to a large bowl with the egg yolk and seasoning, then your pecorino or parmesan. Stir to combine, then slowly add your flour in a few tablespoons at a time until you have a workable but slightly sticky dough. Make sure to add your flour in slowly so you can keep an eye on the consistency.
Knead the dough very lightly for a minute, the key to good and light gnochhi is to try not to work the dough too much. Cut it into two pieces and roll each piece out into a sausage shape about 1 inch thick.
Cut your dough into little 1 inch pieces. Transfer to a well floured plate or tray and refridgerate for at least 1 hour. If you want to freeze your gnocchi to use later, lay out on a baking sheet and freeze, then transfer them to a freezer bag. Defrost fully before cooking.
To cook your gnocchi, add to a pan of simmering water and cook for 1 – 2 minutes until the gnocchi float to the top.
Remove with a slotted spoon as each one rises to the surface. If you are making the pesto below save a few tablespoons of the cooking water.
For extra texture you can fry your gnocchi after this step. Add oil to a nonstick pan and fry on a high heat for 1 – 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. This step is great because you get a crisp outside and a melty middle.
To make sundried tomato pesto
4 -5 sundried tomatoes
clove of garlic
about 10 pine nuts
2 tablespoons parmesan or pecorino
small bunch of basil – optional
salt and pepper
Blitz all your ingredients in a food processor until blended. Add more oil if it seems a little thick. This pesto is a little drier than basil pesto, you can use the saved cooking water from your pasta to make it more like a sauce.
To serve with your gnocchi very gentle toss the sauce with the hot gnocchi in a saucepan, being careful not to break up the gnocchi pieces.
Serve in warmed bowls with parmesan on top, we had ours with some garlic rubbed ciabatta too.
Go with me on this one.
It is good, I promise.
And you know I wouldn’t lie to you..
This recipe has been on my list for a while, I spotted it over on 17 and Baking and it totally made sense to me. Rich dark chocolate and smoky bacon with a hint of saltiness – and we all know the food world is crazy about salt and sweet right now (salted caramel anyone?).
It is not miles away from the classic bacon and maple syrup combination, you get a nice hit of sweet and a nice hit of salt, but with the brownies you get the dense dark chocolate too.
I make brownies quite often, I have one recipe which I like to stick to but I’ve been keen to try new ones, the best thing about brownies is that there are so many great recipes out there offering something different but also still giving you that quintessential brownie – gooey and crispy.
This recipe obviously offers something completely different!
It did feel very weird putting bacon into a brownie mix but I stuck with it and I was not disappointed.Try to use the best quality streaky bacon or pancetta you can find, anything cheap will leach out too much water and your brownies won’t be good. It should also be smoked. I used good quality smoked pancetta, this crisps up well and won’t be filled with water.
makes approx 12 brownies
4 rashers of good quality streaky bacon or pancetta
50g / 2oz dark chocolate (at least 70%), chopped
4 tablespoons good quality cocoa
100g / 40z butter2 teaspoons vanilla extract
100g plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
150g caster sugar
Heat your oven to gas mark 5 / 375f / 190c.Heat up a frying pan on the hob, once hot add your strips of bacon. Fry on each side for a couple of minutes or until nice and crispy. Transfer to paper towels to crisp up further and drain the fat.
Once the bacon is cool cut or tear up into small pieces, about 1cm wide.
Put the chocolate, cocoa and butter in a heatproof glass bowl and heat gently over a pan of simmering water. Stir frequently until everything is melted and combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Whisk in the sugar and vanilla, then add in your eggs one by one, stir to combine.
Sift in the flour and baking powder and then stir in the bacon.
Add to a grease and lined cake tin or square cake tin (better for brownies, I need to buy one!).
Bake for 30 – 40 minutes on the middle shelf. Your brownies are done when a skewer or knife comes out clean when inserted. Remove from the pan and leave on a board or wire rack.
Let them cool completely (sneak a crispy corner if you can’t wait!) before cutting into squares.
Store in the fridge, bring back to room temperature to eat.
I had mine with a nice strong coffee, this motivated me for the rest of the afternoon!
Serve to friends (not vegetarians though!!) and don’t tell them what is inside, let them guess – I bet they won’t know!