Sunday, 30 January 2011

Scottish Dessert Cranachan

Now I must admit, this dessert doesn't thrill me, tempt or tease. My anticipation, to taste all the flavours & textures, is more than a little hesitant. Not sure if its because of the fresh cream, the whiskey or the honey ..  or all but i'm just not captivated. However, interested or not I am a guest to a friends 'Burns Evening' , I am taking along a Scottish Dessert ..  so as this one, at a quick glance,  looked  very easy to cook with minimum efforts & ingredients it seemed the perfect dessert!
*Update - this dessert was totally gorgeous*

__ Cranachan __

Ingredients
Double Cream, 4 tblspn Whiskey, 3 tblspn Honey, Oatmeal, Raspberries.

Shortbread: 6oz Plain flour, 2oz Caster Sugar & 4oz Butter. (one of the recipes included rice flour but I haven't any so its the basic plain shortbread recipe I've used :)

Method
  • Wash the raspberries in a colander. Drain & leave to dry. Pour a layer of medium oatmeal onto a baking tray, spread evenly then pop under a hot grill & watch until golden brown or into a low oven & leave for about 15 mins.
  • Whip the double cream to almost fully whipped add very slowly the tablespoons of honey, one drizzle at a time. This is to ensure the equal fusion of the flavours. Once all honey is added continue to drizzle in the whiskey in the same slow process. 

  • Then in a serving dish layer half of the raspberries onto the bottom of the dish.
  • Add the remaining raspberries, except for 5,  gently to the flavoured whipped cream.
  • Spoon the mixture over the raspberries, leaving the edge of the serving dish free.
  • Add toasted oatmeal to the edges of the serving dish then sprinkle onto the flavoured cream & raspberries.
  • Place the remaining 5 raspberries into the centre of the dessert.
  • It is now Cranachan!!  






  • Served  with some delicious homemade Scottish shortbread.
Shortbread ingredients





  • Once cooked, the shortbread should be firm to the touch without being golden brown.  My first batch was a little more golden so will be converted into an everyday biscuit.
  • Remove from oven, sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  • As I made two batches of shortbread. One to serve with the Cranachan, one ended up being coated in chocolate for during the week to enjoy with our coffee. Mainly because the colour was more golden than I wanted. I had two recipes: one said heat oven to 180oC !!! Please don't it comes out too golden too quickly. I used 130oC & it cooked the shortbread perfectly.
Chocolate coated shortbread

  • Mmmmmmm melted delicious milk chocolate . 
Update & Conclusion: Everyone loved the desert & the shortbread  was used as a spoon for  the Cranachan. The shortbread was white, crumbly & a very buttery rich taste. Used as a spoon it helped to bring together all of complimentary flavours of the whiskey, raspberries, oats & honey. The varying textures were lovely too. I was really surprised to enjoy the dessert as much as I did.

As for the chocolate coated batch, we will  enjoy it  daily,  eaten with our afternoon or evening coffee :)

Hope you enjoy the flavours as much as we did.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Easy & Tasty Roast

Winter Warmers: an easy to cook hearty roast dinner meal, full of all natural ingredients & goodness. A nourishing, tasty, comforting & satisfyingly filling dish for all of the family. 
Roast veggies & boiled veggies served with roast chicken & Yorkshire puds with an easy but  delicious gravy.
 Utensils  
Potato peeler, sharp vegetable knives, fork, scales, potato masher, large jug, saucepans, roasting tin, large ovenproof dish, colander, runner beans grate/cutter.
Ingredients
Large Chicken. 
Yorkshire Puddings: Plain Flour, Salt, Milk, Water, Eggs. (ratio of flour to eggs which works for me every time is for every 4oz flour use 2 eggs) 
Veggies to Roast: Potatoes (Maris Piper), Parsnips, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Celeriac.

Accompanying Veggies to Boil: Broccoli, Runner Beans.
Step by Step Instructions
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Remove chicken from wrapping & packaging. Rinse thoroughly under running cold water. Add to large roasting dish/tin. Raise onto a gridded tray if you prefer so the bird sits above the juices as opposed to in them, but each to their own so adapt to suit your taste buds. Add chicken in the roasting tin onto the middle shelf of the already heated oven.
Wash the chicken, inside & out then season with salt & pepper.
  • Arrange all roasting veggies onto clean work surface. (potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips & celeriac) Prepare accordingly. Peel & cut into required portion sizes. 

Peel, rinse & cut vegetables. Potatoes first, then carrots & parsnips. Add to a saucepan of cold salted water. Add lid. Bring to the boil then simmer for between 10-15 mins depending upon portion size. Once potatoes are tender to the touch with a sharp knife but without breaking up. Drain the hot potatoes into a large colander, remember to give a gentle shake so the potatoes become nice & unevenly fluffy. Add then to a large, oiled, roasting dish. The remaining potatoes water add into a large jug to use later as part of the gravy. 
  • Next prepare the carrots & parsnips, top, tail then peel.  Diagonally half the carrots or leave full size. Cut the thinnest end of the parsnips off & then half the remaining portion. Add both to the same saucepan of cold, salted water. Add lid, bring to the boil & simmer for 5 mins. Drain & add to roasting dish alongside the potatoes.
  • Prepare & peel the sweet potatoes & celeriac. Half the sweet potatoes, or quarter depending upon size. The celeriac is easier if you just cut off the portion size required, then peel it  & then chop. Add both to saucepan of salted cold water, bring to the boil for 5 mins then drain immediately. The reason I do these two veggies last is because the celeriac & sweet potatoes require far less cooking time than the potatoes, carrots & parsnips. 
Peel & chop sweet potatoes
Cut portion size, peel & dice.
  • Drain the tender vegetables, add the flavoursome veggie water to the gravy jug. Add the portions of tender celeriac & sweet potatoes to the roasting dish alongside the parsnips, carrots & potatoes. Drizzle olive oil over all of the veggies. Add the roasting dish full of veggies to the hot oven. 
Par Boiled Veggies for Roasting.
Drain potatoes, keep water, gently shake & add to - cold or warmed - oil in roasting dish.
  • Next make the Yorkshire pudding batter. I use the ratio of 4oz plain flour with 2 eggs. First have large jug, weigh 4 oz plain flour, sieve flour (if you prefer)  into the jug. Make a well in the centre of the flour. Add the 2 eggs. With a fork stir in the egg. Add milk slowly & keep mixing constantly with fork. Once the flour is almost dissolved, use large whisk. Add pinch of salt. Add dash of cold water & whisk, Batter should be a of a thinnish consistency.
Yorkshire pudding ingredients 

Yorkshire Pudding Batter 
  • Pop the jug of Yorkshire pudding batter to one side.
  • Next prepare the shallots for caramelising. top, tail & peel, but in half then add to med size tin foil piece. Place shallots in to the centre of the foil sheet, spray with oil then seal foil into a closed pouch. Add to oven. 
  • Now prepare the veggies for boiling. Top, tail & peel (just down the sides) the runner beans. Then pop through a runner bean cutter. Makes them taste beautifully tender without any stringiness. Add to salted, cold water for the time being, until ready to cook when they will require boiling water.
Runner Beans & Cutter
Sliced Runner Beans in Saucepan of Salted Cold Water.
  • Prepare broccoli, cut into required portion size & amount. We love the broccoli storks but some prefer only the florets. Add to cold water until required for cooking. Just like runner beans, boiling water is added to the broccoli
  • When chicken is cooked, when only clear juices run when pricked with skewer or fork, remove from oven to allow to rest. Turn oven up to 200oC. Remove roasting vegetable, with a large flat slotted turner pop underneath the veggies & turn over all of the veggies so they can evenly roast. Drizzle again with Olive Oil if necessary or you can use some of the flavoursome chicken juices.
  • Pour a little oil, or small knob of Trex (or any hard vegetable fat)  into each Yorkshire pudding tin. Pop onto top shelf of the oven & allow oil to heat up throughly , until blue smoke rises.
  • Whisk Yorkshire pudding mix ready to pour into each individual Yorkshire pudding mould. I use one that serves 12 individual Yorkshires. sometimes I do one large one in a roasting tin.
Hot hot hot oil, must be hot or Yorkshires wont rise.

  • Once blue haze of smoke is rising from oil in Yorkshire pudding tins, pour batter into each mould as quickly as possible. Return to top shelf of the oven. set timer for 20 minutes.
  • Now boil the kettle, empty cold water from runner beans & broccoli. Add pinch of salt to both saucepans. Add boiling water to runner beans & cook on stove with the lid on . 
  • Using the surplus veggie water saved in jug, add it to another saucepan & bring to boil. Add stock cube or/& gravy powder. Whisk until all powders are dissolved. Pour the hot gravy water into the empty Yorkshire pudding jug, whisk so all remaining batter dissolves into gravy. Add gravy bacvk into saucepan & continue simmering & stirring.
  • Boil kettle again, add boiling water to broccoli. add pinch of salt, pop onto stove bring to boil then simmer.
  • Carve chicken, turn Yorkshire puddings & roast veggies, Add plates to warm in oven ready to serve,
  • Drain broccoli, add little juice to gravy, drain runner beans again add a little of the runner bean water to gravy.  Return veggies to saucepan seal & keep heat in with lid on.
  • Remove all plates & serving dishes from the oven, serve & enjoy!!



Hope you enjoy this traditional, old fashioned family roast dinner. As you can see its easy to prepare, cook yet very tasty. Recipe can be adapted to suit taste buds.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

_ Chunky Cottage Pie _

Winter Warmers, an easy to cook hearty meal, full of natural ingredients & goodness. A nourishing, tasty, comforting & satisfyingly filling dish for all of the family. Served with delicious accompanying vegetables to suit your taste buds. Many make the mistake of calling the Shepherds Pie  ..  but it isn't the difference is Cottage Pie is made with Beef whereas as , just as it sounds, shepherds Pie is made with Lamb :)
Ingredients
Minced steak beef.  onions,  leeks,  mushrooms,  garlic,  potatoes,  cheese.
Gravy:  tomato puree,  Italian spices,  herbs,  smoked paprika,  salt & pepper.
(you can also add a tin of plum tomatoes to your beef stock which brings a lovely richness 
to the gravy. This one hasn't the tomatoes in simply because I didn't have any 
& as I tend to took with what I have at the moment, making up my recipes to suit  what I do have )

Accompanying Vegetables
Runner beans,  carrots,  petit pois,  green beans.

 Step by step instructions  
  • Remove minced beef from packaging. Rinse the minced beef in a colander under cold running water. 
  • Drain & pat dry a little then add to a large frying saucepan. 
Minced Steak Beef
Rinse Minced Beef in Colander
Saute Minced Steak in own juices






















  • Once minced beef is added to a low heat on the stove.
  • Peel the required amount of potatoes.  Rinse peeled potatoes in a colander under cold running water. Or fill a pan with cold water and submerge potatoes into pan of water. Remove from colander, Place onto chopping board. With a sharp  vegetable knife half then quarter the peeled potatoes, or cut to whatever size you prefer.  Add cut portions of potatoes to a saucepan of cold, salted water. Add to a med heat on the stove, bring to the boil then simmer with a lid on the pan until potatoes are fluffy and soft enough to mash. Usually around 20 - 25 minutes. Please watch your timing to suit size of potatoes. 

Dice peeled potatoes 
Peel potatoes, I prefer to use otatoe peeler 
Add portions of potatoes to a saucepan of salted  cold water,
 add to heat, bring to boil, add lid, simmer until tender.
  • Put on the saucepan lid to prevent potatoes burning dry. Check the minced beef. Turn over the simmering pink minced beef in the saucepan, the underneath mince should now be turning a nice light brown. Once all of the minced beed is totally brown remove from heat & drain away excess fat. Then add boiling hot beef stock, add pinch of salt, pepper to taste, swirl of tomato puree & spices / herbs. All can be added to the stock if preferred. Stir in stock return the lid & continue to simmer. Add a few bay leaves to add to maturing flavours.
Add hot liquid stock to browned minced beef. Add bay leaves .
  • Both the main ingredients are now cooking on the stove. Time to wash & prepare the additional vegetables which are added, once sautéed,  into the minced beef. 
  • Peel & crush 3 garlic cloves. Add knob of butter to small frying saucepan, melt gently & add crushed garlic. 
  • Peel & slice onion. Add onion to garlic.  Once onion & garlic are soft remove from heat & add to minced beef mixture.
  • Top & tail leeks, slide knife down the middle of the leek shaft, open gently & wash thoroughly. Once clean slice leeks into equal size portions. Rinse again to make sure no soil remains in layers of the leek. 
  • Add sliced leeks to the remaining onions & garlic buttery juices . When soft but not browned remove from heat adding leeks to the minced beef mixture.
  • Add little butter to the small empty saucepan  that cooked the onion, garlic & leeks - using the delicious flavours of all - once butter is melted add sliced mushrooms. Saute & brown the sliced mushrooms then add to the minced beef mixture. 
  • Check the mince is thoroughly browned,  add all of the lean cooked minced beef, with the onions, garlic, leeks & mushrooms into a  large ovenproof serving dish. 
Peel & slice garlic
Crush garlic then dice into tiny pieces
Run knife down middle of leek shaft
Rinse Leeks in running cold water
Slice Leeks
Top, tail & peel onion
Slice onion, tip: always keep a window open next to where you cut onions, prevents tears! :)

Herbs, Spices & Tomato Puree

Add Leeks, Garlic, Onions & Mushrooms to Minced Beef
Add Minced Beef & Veggies

                                
Mash the potatoes


Add cooked minced beef, onions, garlic, leeks, mushrooms & stock into large oven proof dish













  • Once potatoes are mashed to an absolute smooth consistency, add knob of butter. Some at this point add milk or cream or beaten egg depending upon taste. I find a knob of butter is creamy enough for our taste. Add large spoonfuls of mashed potatoes onto top of minced beef mixture. Arrange evenly over mixture with fork.
Using a fork gives the mashed potatoes a nicely uneven surface for cooking
  • Add the oven proof dish to a moderately hot oven, Cook for about 45 mins to an hour. Then remove from oven, add grated cheese on top of the mashed potatoes ( which should look a motley, beautiful golden colour). Return to the oven & cook for a further 15 minutes.
Grate the Cheese
Grated Cheese
  • While Cottage Pie is finishing off in the oven, prepare your desired veggies.  We're having green beans. So I cut off the top end of the beans but I don't tail them. I prefer to cook them full length with their little tails on, they look so beautiful when cooked, displayed on the dinner plate. 
  • Cook in saucepan of salted, boiling water for around 5 - 10 minutes.
  • Remove Cottage Pie from the oven & allow to rest, warm dinner plates up in the oven so food served upon them stays nicely warm as youre eating.

French Green Beans
Remove the hard storky bit at top of green bean
Add boiling water to green beans, add salt, cook to suit your taste.
We prefer our veggies a little on the firmer side then the softer so we only do ours for 5 minutes.
Once cooked to taste, drain & serve.
Delicious Cottage Pie
  • Serve on a warmed plate with vegetables. Suggestions: green beans, runner beans, carrots, broccoli any veggie like that are all delicious accompaniments.  Enjoy!!
Nice, Nutritious, Winter Warming Satisfyingly Filling Food
Mmmmmmmmmmmm
Enough left in serving dish for tomorrow too :)
As we were very full afterwards, we just finished with a simple coffee,
half a piece of homemade fruit cake & a chocolate biscuit as opposed to a dessert.
Hope you enjoy this traditional, old fashioned family wholesome meal. As you can see its easy to prepare, cook yet very tasty. Recipe can be change to suit taste buds.