Friday, 23 September 2011

How Nana used to make

For a while now, I’ve been searching for a raspberry bun recipe to recreate one of the treats that my Nana used to make. My Nana and Grandad had a set of cake tins which stacked on top of each other, each housing a different home made treat, whether it was rock buns, raspberry buns, or what we called “pasty jam cake cakes”. Of all of those it was the raspberry buns which has stuck in my head. The texture was crumbly, but not too dry, and each was dusted with sugar to give a lovely crust. There was always just enough raspberry jam on the inside, and we were always warned about eating them when they were too hot as the jam could burn your mouth.
I tried asking my Mum about the recipe, and she thought my Nana could have used a rock bun recipe, but wasn’t sure. I do remember making them, and the dough was pliable and you could easily wrap it round the jam to seal it in, and to me, a rock bun recipe wouldn’t do this. Via the internet I found a recipe which could work – and set about it with the hope of creating Nana’s raspberry buns.
Taken straight from the fantastic blog The English Kitchen:

225g of self raising flour (a scant 2 cups)
1 tsp baking powder
75g of butter (a scant 1/3 cup)
75g of caster sugar (a scant 1/2 cup)
1 large free range egg, lightly beaten
a little milk
raspberry jam

To glaze:
a little extra milk
a little extra sugar

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a large baking tray. Set aside.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Drop in the butter and then rub it into the flour mixture with your fingertips, rubbing until the mixture resembles dry bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar. Beat the egg and stir it into the flour mixture with a fork, along with just enough milk to make a soft dough. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into a ball. Flatten the ball and place a dab of jam in the middle of each. Bring the edges of the dough up around the jam to cover it completely enclosing it. Flatten slightly and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Brush each with a bit of milk and sprinkle with more sugar.
Bake in the heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Scoop off onto a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before tucking in as hot jam can really give you a nasty burn!
One of Tim’s memories was of cornflake crispy cakes that his Grandma would make. Since moving house, and re-discovering all the cooking books we have my attention was turned towards a rather battered copy of the Ladybird publication We Can Cook for something similar. I used to make a few things from this book all the time years ago, but mainly an adapted version of their “Golden Crunchies”. This was adapted by adding chocolate. This gave the resulting cakes a different, gooey texture than the normal chocolate crispy cake type things.
I’d made a batch recently when Tim asked if the next time I made them I could also include desiccated coconut since that was how his Grandma made them.
1 rounded tbsp sugar
2 cups cornflakes (or enough until the mixture looks right!)
25g margarine/butter
2 rounded tbsp golden syrup
100g milk chocolate
1 heaped tbsp desiccated coconut
Melt the margarine/butter in a pan with the sugar, syrup and chocolate.
Mix in the coconut then stir the chocolaty mixture through the cornflakes. Divide into paper cake cases.
Both the resulting cakes were how we remember them. The raspberry buns were the correct flavour  (thanks English Kitchen!), although the texture was a little more dry then I remember (possible gluten-free flour), and the crispy cakes were spot on it seems.
This got me thinking that all these recipes and ways of cooking need to be written down somewhere. Our Grandparents are no longer here to ask, as these things are all memories from our childhoods, which might have bypassed a generation of our parents.
I will be looking out for one of those stack-able cake tins, asking cousins and my Mum about things they remember Nana and Grandad making, and the next thing to try making (and to blog) is those pastry jam cake cakes! Yum!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Chicken and Courgettes with a Tarragon Sauce

Last year we had a fantastic meal at The Lamb Inn, Chinley and I was bowled over by the Tarragon sauce that I had served with my Ham Hock.  For a while now we have had taragon growing in the garden but for some reason it has gone unused, until now.  Tarragon is a fantastic herb that tastes quite different from how it smells.  This pleased Fran as when it is picked and chopped it has an aroma similar to aniseed which she does not like, however, added at the end of a dish and cooked down for a few minutes, the aniseed edge is lifted a little and you are left with a wonderful warm and savoury taste that is perfect with all meats and sits particularly well in a creamy sauce.

So this time while looking through the fridge to see what could be made for tea we decided on Chicken and Courgettes with a Tarragon Sauce.  Fran had some inspiration in a dish she had at Cafe Rouge called Poulet Breton, however we couldn't find a decent recipe for this so we trusted a little instict, kept it simple and did it alone!

Chicken and Courgettes with a Tarragon Sauce
What you will need (serves 2):

2 chicken breast fillets
1 medium leek (chopped)
1 medium courgette (thinly chopped)
30g butter
1 glass white wine
handful tarragon (leaves loosely picked and chopped)
double cream
salt and pepper

First soften the leeks in the butter over a medium heat
Then add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes
Then add the chopped courgettes and cook till softened (add a splash of water if dry)
Next add the wine and allow to bubble for a couple of minutes
Finally add the cream and Tarragon and stir through, allow to warm slowly infusing the dish with the Tarragon and add a little seasoning to taste.

We had it with home grown beans and mash and managed to make it stretch to 4 servings! It would work well with rice too.

The Tarragon flavour took me right back to the meal we had at The Lamb Inn and will definitely be a herb we use again soon.  It sits perfectly with a cream sauce and this simple recipe gives the impression of a much more defined dish that is still surprisingly quick and easy to make.


Thursday, 8 September 2011

Persian Salad (Salad Olivieh)

Following a delicious meal at Rayhoon in Stockport and sampling flavours and dishes which were new to us, I decided to try and recreate one of the starters we had there.
It was the first time we'd visited that restaurant, and the food and atmosphere were great. We went on a Thursday night and they had a pianist performing all night which added to the ambience. The service was a little eratic, but nothing too bad really. The chef/owner even came out at the end of the night to apologise. We certainly didn't think the service that night was bad enough for the apology from the owner, but it was noted.
The food was very good, and as I've already said, we did try several different flavours, all of which were new to us. We will, no doubt, return, and then do a proper post about the place.

One of the starters we ordered to share between our party was Salad Olivieh, or Persian Salad. According to the menu this was "a combination of shredded chicken, gherkins, potato, egg, peas in a light coating of mayonnaise "a feeling of pleasure and fulfilment"". Interesting description. So all the ingredients we need to recreate it.
I since looked up Persian Salad on the internet and found a few recipes, all with the above ingredients, but with the addition of lime juice, and some with added carrot.
I decided to stick to the menu version.

Persian Salad (in a pre-served state)
We've actually started to notice a few mentions of Persian food here there and everywhere. A couple of issues ago, there was a recipe in Good Food Magazine, and in the September issue of delicious. there is a feature about blogger Sabrina's passions and a rather delicious looking recipe. Plus since visiting Rayoon, I've since heard of another very good Persian restaurant in the Stockport area. Maybe this is the flavour of things to come? Certainly could be in our house.