Monthly Archives: September 2008

Venison Meatballs

I apologise in advance about the deterioration in my photography from now on until the spring. Light isn’t great in the kitchen and with the nights drawing in this means I don’t take as good photos. But I’m slowly learning how to use our camera properly and in turn I should be a bit better at taking pics.

A few weekends ago on Something for the Weekend (my favourite Sunday lie-in programme), Simon Rimmer made some delicious looking Venison Meatballs. I’ve been meaning to make it for some weeks now. Our lovely butcher Stuart ordered in some venison in for me and then minced it.

I’ve always been undecided about venison. It’s more of a psychological “argh, I’m eating bambi” issue rather than not liking the taste. Saying that, watching Babe has never stopped a craving for a bacon butty. The ragu was delicious and rich and would be just as good as just a basic ragu without meat. I’ll certainly be using the ragu recipe again. I think Hubby enjoyed the venison more than I did, but then again he doesn’t have any issues with eating any animal!

Venison Meatballs
Serves 2-3


1 onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
75g tomato puree
225ml red wine
225ml chicken stock (or venison stock if your lucky to have some)
1 heaped tsp dried rosemary


1 egg
65ml milk
300g venison mince
50g breadcrumbs
1 garlic clove
30g parmesan, grated

1) First, start on the sauce. Gently fry carrots, onion and garlic in a deep saucepan until softened. Stir in tomato puree and cook on a low heat for 5 min.

2) Pour in stock, wine and rosemary and simmer for 45 min.

3) While the sauce is cooking make the meatballs. In a bowl whisk together egg and milk then add the remaining meatball ingredients. Using you hands combine all the ingredients well.

4) Roll the meatballs to the size of a plum and chill for 20 min.

5) Fry the meatballs until browned both sides, then add the meatballs to the ragu. Finally simmer for 5 min.

Celebrating British Food – Bakewell Tart

Summer made a brief appearance here in the UK over the weekend; basking the ground in glorious autumnal sunshine. Hey it was short lived, but at least it brought us some cheer.

We spent Sunday at Kedleston Hall on the outskirts of Derby, walking around the grounds and eating picnic on the lawn. It was packed out with people taking advantage of the beautiful weather, The Duchess exhibition and the fact they were giving free puddings away in the restaurant as part of their British Food Fortnight events.


This is why I love Britain, in particular Derbyshire not only do we have awe inspiring scenery but fantastic food. 20th September till 5th October is British Food Fortnight and the lovely Antonia @ Food, Glorious Food is hosting a British Food Fortnight Challenge. As soon as I heard about the challenge there was one thing I knew I had to make, Bakewell Tart. Possibly one of the most famous cakes in Derbyshire.

Now there is lots of myths surrounding Bakewell Pudding/Tart. Don’t let Mr Kipling make you believe a Cherry Bakewell is traditional. The Bakewell Pudding is believed to have begun in a pub in Bakewell when an inexperienced chef in the kitchen was meant to make a strawberry tart, but made something very different. The Bakewell Pudding is a tart made with puff pastry shell, layer of jam and eggy custard topping and an alleged “secret ingredient” (No I’ve never been able to work the ingredient out). The Bakewell Tart however has evolved from the Bakewell Pudding and is made with a sweet shortcrust base, layer of jam and a rich almond sponge topping. My original intentions were to make a Bakewell pudding, but decided a Bakewell Tart was more picnic friendly.


Bakewell Tart is one of my favourite cakes and I believe a perfect Bakewell tart should have a thin, but supporting layer of pastry, thick layer of raspberry jam and a deep, dense, moist frangipane sponge. A dry, tasteless Cherry Bakewell it ain’t!

I admit I’m not too confident with pastry, but with the help of my trusty KitchenAid I’m getting there. I was really pleased with how the pastry and the overall tart worked out. For me it was the perfect Bakewell Tart, and trust me in my lifetime I’ve eaten my fair share!


Bakewell Tart
Serves 8-10


125g plain flour
75g unsalted butter, cold and diced
25g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp cold water
1 egg white


100g raspberry jam
100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
25g plain flour
100g ground almonds
1 tsp almond extract
30g flaked almonds

1)In a large bowl mix together flour, salt and sugar then rub in butter until you have the consistency of breadcrumbs. Stir in the egg yolk and water until you have a smooth dough. Flatten into a disk, cover in clingfilm and refrigerate for 45 min.

2)On a floured surface roll out the dough until it is about 3mm thick then line a 20cm tart tin with the pastry. Lightly prick the base with a fork and chill for 30 min.

3) Preheat the oven to 180oc (160oc fan). Line the pastry case with baking parchment and baking beans then bake for 20min until pastry is a light golden colour. Remove the beans and parchment, brush the inside of the pastry shell with egg white and bake for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 min

4) While the pastry is cooling beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs and almond extract. Stir in the flour and ground almonds until well combined.

5) Spread the jam generously over the pastry base then pour frangipane mix on top of the jam. Level out with a pallet knife. Sprinkle with sliced almonds then bake for 35-40 until risen and golden.

6) Allow to cool in tin before eating.

Carrot & Lentil Soup

After a busy week in work and with Hubby being out today doing blokey things I’ve decided to dedicate today as “bake and watch great girly stuff” day. So far I’ve watched an sung along to Hairspray while making soup and then BBC’s wonderful romp Casanova is now the soundtrack to the tart (no pun intended) I’m baking this afternoon.

The soup was an ideal way of using up a few vegetables that were about to go past their best. Next time to give it more of a warming kick I’m going to add a pinch of chilli powder. The soup and tart I’m baking will be perfect for a picnic at the beautiful Kedleston Hall tomorrow. Last time we were there they were filming The Duchess so didn’t get to see inside of most of the hall.

Carrot & Lentil Soup
Serves 3-4

1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp paprika
1 onion, sliced
4 small carrots, sliced
70g split red lentils
200ml orange juice
500ml vegetable stock
Salt & Pepper
2 tbsp plain yogurt

1) Crush the whole spices in a pestle & mortar and dry fry for a few minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (apart from the yogurt) and simmer for 30 min.

2) Blitz the soup until smooth then stir in yogurt. Serve.

Pea, Mint & Feta Soup and English Muffins

The last week has been chaotic as usual. Earlier in the week there was big concern about our cottage being flooded. The local river was at serious risk of bursting it’s banks and the local geography means that when it rains (a lot) the run-off from the fields behind us flow down to one of the village ponds, which in turn bursts and flows straight past our front door. I knew it wasn’t a good sign when I returned from work to find all the front doors in the row piled high with sandbags. Thankfully the pond stayed intact and our house is still dry. It still gave us a worrying few days though!

My interest in bread making is still strong and today was the turn of trying English muffins. I love them lightly toasted then slathered in butter. Very much comfort food. The soup season is just around the corner and I got the idea for this soup from a Mark Sargent soup recipe. I was pleased how this soup worked out. It is perfect and warming, but still with the taste of summer and perfect with a couple of muffins. Like most of my bread baking keep an eyeout for it on Yeastspotting.

Pea, Mint & Feta Soup
Serves 1

100ml water
110ml milk
1 tbsp chopped mint
150g frozen peas
10 cubes of feta
salt and freshly ground black pepper
drizzle olive oil

1) Bring water, milk and mint to the boil. Add peas and boil for 3 min until peas are cooked.

2) Drain most of the milky stock into a jug. Add feta to the peas and puree. Gradually add stock until you have the desired consistency. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

English Muffins
Makes 8

110ml milk
25ml water
1 tsp dried yeast
large pinch of sugar
225g strong white flour
pinch of salt
polenta for dusting

1) Heat milk, water and sugar into a saucepan until hand hot. Stir in yeast and leave for 15 min to allow a froth to develop on the top.

2) In a large bowl pour yeast mix into flour & polenta and mix until you have a dough. Knead dough for 2 min in mixer (10 min by hand)until you have a soft elastic dough. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave in a warm place to rise for an hour.

3) Knock back dough then roll out until about 1cm thick. Using and 8cm cutter (or large wine glass!) cut out rounds and place on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with a small amount of polenta. Once all of the rounds have been cut dust the top of the dough with more polenta. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 30 min.

4) Heat a heavy based frying pan to low/med. If not using a non-stick pan melt a small amount of butter in the pan. Cook the muffins in batches for 7 min each side. While cooking the rest of the muffins place the cooked muffins under a tea towel to keep warm. If you can, leave for 5-10 min before slathering in butter and eating.

The British One Hundred

I’ve been back in work for just over a week now and I’m exhausted, so food has been just good old tried and tested recipes, and not really blogable. The above photo was taken on our honeymoon last year on the Isle of Harris when we were chilling out with a scarily big jug of Pimms. Remember the days where you could sit outside in the hot sunshine in the UK for most of the summer and not have to dodge torrential rain…

To make up for the slight blogging drought and the fact British Food Fortnight is just around the corner, here is The British One Hundred as put together by Helen at Food Stories. Along the same idea as the Omnivore’s Hundred, but I can tick a great deal more off the list! Items in bold I have eaten, items I’ve crossed out I wouldn’t consider eating…or you would have to pay me a great deal of money.

1. Grey squirrel
2. Steak and kidney pie
3. Bubble and squeak
4. Spotted dick
5. Hot cross buns
6. Laver bread
7. Toad in the hole
8. Shepherds pie AND cottage pie
9. Scotch egg
10. Parkin
11. Welsh rarebit
12. Jellied eels
13. Stilton
14. Marmite (I hate it, evil, evil stuff…)
15. Ploughman’s lunch
16. Cucumber sandwiches
17. Coronation chicken
18. Gloucester old spot (I’ve eaten it many times and even from Jimmy’s Farm)
19. Cornish pasty (Oh how I love Cornish pasties!)
20. Samphire
21. Mince pies
22. Winkles
23. Salad cream (not a big fan though)
24. Malt loaf (essential camping cake)
25. Haggis
26. Beans on toast even better with cheese sprinkled on top.
27. Cornish clotted cream tea I also like it the Devonshire way ;)
28. Pickled egg
29. Pork scratchings
30. Pork pie (I have to pick the jelly out though)
31. Black pudding
32. Patum Peperium or Gentleman’s relish
33. Earl grey tea
34. Elvers (I saw Gordon Ramsay cook these on the F Word and it totally freaked me out)
35. HP Sauce
36. Potted shrimps
37. Stinking bishop
38. Elderflower cordial
39. Pea and ham soup
40. Aberdeen Angus Beef
41. Lemon posset this was the first pudding Hubby ever made me
42. Guinness
43. Cumberland sausage
44. Native oysters
45. A ‘full English’
46. Cockles
47. Faggots
48. Eccles cake
49. Potted Cromer crab
50. Trifle
51. Stargazy pie
52. English mustard
53. Christmas pudding the best pudding in the world.
54. Cullen skink
55. Liver and bacon with onions
56. Wood pigeon
57. Branston pickle
58. Oxtail soup
59. Piccalilli
60. Sorrel
62. Chicken tikka masala
63. Deep fried Mars Bar (wrong, so wrong)
64. Fish, chips and mushy peas
65. Pie and mash with liquor (I’ve eaten pie & mash, but not with liquor)
66. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (with gravy)
67. Pickled onions
68. Cock-a-leekie soup
69. Rabbit and Hare
70. Bread sauceI’m not a big fan of if though
71. Cauliflower cheese
72. Crumpets
73. Rice pudding
74. Bread and butter pudding
75. Bakewell tart
76. Kendall mint cakeand essential for hill walkers!
77. Summer pudding
78. Lancashire hot pot
79. Beef Wellington
80. Eton mess
81. Neeps and tatties
82. Pimms The best summer drink, see photo above!
83. Scampi
84. Mint sauce
85. English strawberries and cream
86. Isle of Wight garlic
87. Mutton
88. Deep fried whitebait with tartare sauce
89. Angels on horseback
90. Omelette Arnold Bennett
91. Devilled kidneys
92. Partridge and pheasant
93. Stew and dumplings
94. Arbroath smokies
95. Oyster loaves (sounds interesting though!)
96. Sloe gin I’m going to try and make my own this year
97. Damson jam
98. Soda bread
99. Quince jelly
100. Afternoon tea at the Ritz (Not at the Ritz, but I have at Bettys)

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