Monthly Archives: January 2011

National Wheatmeal Loaf and Mock Banana anyone?

As part of my business I’ve looked at certain eras of food history in particular the recipes that the everyday person would have cooked and eaten. I’m currently working on WW2 and rationing. This has partly been spurred on by our visit to the Ministry of Food Exhibition at the  Imperial War Museum back November.

Unlike many things during WW2 Bread wasn’t rationed until 1946, however it was illegal to eat white bread due to precious flour supplies so the National Wheatmeal Loaf was developed which used 85% wholemeal flour with added calcium and vitamin, plus extra salt and other padding out ingredients if you were a cash tight baker. Frankly it was not very popular due to its stale, coarse texture that made it almost undigestible, but people put up with it as there was no other alternative. I was also a crime to waste bread.

“Pat-a-loaf, pat-a-loaf
Baker’s Man
Bake me some Wheatmeal
As fast as you can:
It builds up my health
And its taste is good,
I find that I like
Eating just what I should.”

The wholemeal loaf I attempted as part of my research thankfully was quite edible. During the rationing years it has been argued that people’s diets were the best they had ever been, but it didn’t stop people craving the foods that they couldn’t have and this is where mock versions of products appeared. Mock banana is simply boiled parsnips mashed down with a bit of sugar and banana extract. Perfect consistency to spread in your sandwich with a rather acquired taste. Not my first choice of sandwich fillings and probably put a whole generation of children off banana sandwiches but it was better than no banana. The other sandwich filling you can see in the picture is simply grated carrot with a smidgen of mayonnaise and grated cheese, surprisingly tasty. Almost like a stripped down coleslaw. Parsnips, carrots and other root vegetables are readily available in the winter months so were used in many dishes and even as a substitute for sweets when they were rationed. Not sure what children would think of this now!

What Hubs doesn’t realise is that I’m inflicting a Woolton Pie on him in the next week plus there is a packet of skimmed milk powder in the kitchen just waiting to be turned into Household Milk all in the name of research.

Wholemeal Bread
Makes 2 loaves
from Ministry of Food – Jane Fearnley Whittingstall

1 ½ lb wholemeal bread flour

1 ½ tbsp salt

1 ½ tbsp dried yeast

1 dsp honey or treacle

450 ml tepid water

1) Mix together all the ingredients and knead for about 10 minutes until you have a soft dough. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave until dough has doubled in size (around 2 hours).

2) Knock back the dough, give a short knead then cut into two equal pieces. Place in 1.5 litre loaf tins, allow to rise for a further 2 hours.

2) pre-heat oven to 200°c then bake loaves for 30 min. To test the loaves turn them out of their tins and give the base a tap. if it sounds hollow they are ready. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

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Valentine Wishlist

While surfing the web over the last for weeks I’ve spotted fantastic ideas to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t have to be a box of Milk Tray and flowers from the garage down the road or even a huge bunch of roses, it’s about a token gesture to show someone how much you appreciate and love them.

Storeyshop has a beautiful selection of hand cut and laser cut cards in her Folksy shop. She also does commissions. For our wedding anniversary she made me a I love you more than my KitchenAid card.

HWR Designs Helen is based in Hilton on the Derbyshire, Staffordshire border. I particularly love the fabric birds she makes at the moment.

The Blossom Tree Flowers on the 14th of February don’t always have to be roses. Tulips and anemones are some of my favourite flowers and I certainly wouldn’t be unhappy if this beautiful bouquet arrived for me. Kerry is also giving 10% off orders over £25 if ordered before 31st January. Just enter iloveyou at the checkout.

Pong – Say I Love You with cheese. I’m a big fan of Pong, but just be warned lots of the cheese they sell are true to their name! Always fantastic interesting choice of cheeses with great service.

The Montpelier Basement – This Supperclub, based in Bristol, is hosting an Anti Valentine weekend that is perfect for those of you want to avoid dodgy dining experiences around the 14th.

A Quarter of – They do say a way to a man’s heart is thorough his stomach and I know the hamper from A Quarter of I gave Hubs for his birthday went down very well. I admit I’m partial to a packet of fizzy Love Hearts.

National Trust Tea Room – While many National Trust properties are closed at the moment many of the gardens and tea rooms are still open. How about a lovely walk followed by a well-earned cream tea from one of their renowned tea rooms? I can personally vouch for the fabulous cream teas served at Calke Abbey and Berrington Hall.

Quirky Cookies & Cakes – Wendy is also based in Derbyshire and makes fantastic biscuits and her rocky road is to die for!

River Cottage Valentine’s Feast – We attended this feast a few years back and it was an amazing experience. A I write this they have a few tickets left for this fabulous event.

Welsh Rarebit Muffins

This week is Farmhouse Breakfast week and it’s all about promoting the benefits of a good breakfast. I’m a huge advocate of breakfast. I know that if I don’t eat Breakfast I’m mardy and lacking energy until lunch time. As someone who works with children I’ve also seen the difference a breakfast can make to them. I’ve learnt what works best for me and that conventional off the shelf cereal doesn’t keep my hunger locked up till lunch, I have to make my own concoctions. Current favourites include:

  • Porridge sweetened with either banana or jam
  • yogurt topped with oats, omega seed mix and fruit (be it dried, fresh or tinned)
  • Granola with milk or yogurt

I find breakfast is the perfect time of day to squeeze in a few of those all important fruit and veg along with grains without having to try hard plus the daily glass of orange juice helps with the absorption of iron that appears in many cereals and bread.

We make an effort to sit down together, usually at the weekend for a proper more luxurious breakfast. Be it croissants, pancakesfrench toast topped with fruit compote or Hubs favourite, a simple boiled egg with toast. There is something nice about making effort for a meal at the weekend that is usually eaten at different times during the week.

A quick straw poll on twitter revealed many a favourite breakfast including toast, kedgeree, pancakes, poached eggs and bubble & squeak. The Farmhouse Breakfast website also has some great ideas for breakfasts. I’ll certainly be trying the Hot Chocolate & Raspberry Shake soon. While researching some recipes for my classes I came across this recipe for Welsh Rarebit Muffins and they are perfect for both breakfast, brunch and lunch. Some chopped up tomatoes, mushrooms and maybe a small amount of ham along with replacing some of the flour with wholegrain flour would be great added to the muffin mix.

So what is your favourite breakfast?

Welsh Rarebit Muffins
These make a great deal more than the original recipe states. Makes more like 24 large fairy cake/small muffins.

From BBC Good Food

225g self-raising flour

50g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ level tsp bicarbonate of soda

¼ tsp salt

½ level tsp mustard powder

100g strong cheese , grated

6 tbsp vegetable, sunflower or rapeseed oil

150g Greek yogurt

130ml milk

1 egg

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1) Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Mix together the self-raising and plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and mustard powder in a bowl.

2) In a separate bowl, mix the cheese, oil, yogurt, milk, egg and Worcestershire sauce. Combine all the ingredients and divide between the muffin cases in the muffin tin.

3) Place in the oven for 20 mins until golden. Remove and cool slightly on a rack. They are particularly nice warm from the oven. Store in an airtight container.

A little bit of recipe testing

Things have been very busy here in the kitchen recently with both recipe development & testing  for my business along with recipe testing for others. For my business recipes have been developed, refined and sometimes binned all in the eventual hope that my pupils will enjoy cooking them. Hubs and his workmates are very grateful at this time in the term when I’m bombarding them with various makes and bakes all in the name of recipe development.

Outside my business I have also tested a couple of recipe’s for Vanessa Kimbell who has her first book out, called Prepped!, at the end of May. Back in October I tested Chocolate Beef for her then last week Vanessa put a call out for someone with a glut of frozen rhubarb to help with the testing of a Rhubarb Tart recipe. We grow rhubarb in the garden and because I’m not a big fan of it, come on you can only eat so much rhubarb crumble, we had 1kg of frozen rhubarb waiting to be used. The sweet shortbread pastry with the tart rhubarb and delicious frangipan topping worked really well. The whole tart only lasted 2 days in the house and I’ll certainly be making it again. As for the recipe for this gorgeous Rhubarb tart, you’ll have to wait until Vanessa’s book is out later this year. If you know of anyone who needs any recipes tested you know who to call!

Living Lou’s Ginger Molasses Cookies

Since 2007 Kristen from Dine & Dish has hosted Adopt a Blogger. Back in October she sent out a plea for someone to adopt newbie blogger Lou at Living Lou.Lou is 17, lives in Canada and her blog has only been around since May 2010 but you’d never guess because it is such a fabulous looking blog that is growing quickly. Her photography puts me to shame!

If you fancy adopting a blogger to help show them the ropes or are a newbie blogger who needs a bit of help, pop across to Adopt a Blogger. There isn’t just food blogs to choose from, but also design, lifestyle and other.

Lou’s blog is full of fabulous recipes. As soon as I saw Ginger Molasses Cookies I knew I had to try them. Her Cheese Garlic Bread will certainly be next on the list!  Although these biscuits are a bit of a festive recipe they are still delicious all year round and ideal for eating with a cup of tea. The recipe below is Lou’s but with the quantities converted to grams.

Ginger Molasses Cookies
makes about 24
Recipe from: One Cake Two Cake

340g plain flour
2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp of salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
170g unsalted butter, softened
90g soft dark sugar
110g granulated sugar, plus 50g  for rolling cookies
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
110g treacle

1) Preheat oven to 190oc and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) Combine the dry ingredients, flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves in a bowl.

3) Soften the butter in the microwave for about 10 seconds (it may need more). Beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, add in the brown sugar and 110g granulated sugar and continue mixing for another 3 minutes.

4) Add in the egg, vanilla and treacle and beat at medium speed for 30 seconds.

5) Add in the dry ingredients in one go and beat until just combined another 30 seconds or so.

6) Place remaining 50g of granulated sugar in bowl. Scoop out dough in about 1 tbsp scoops, and roll into a ball, then roll the ball in the granulated sugar and place on the prepared cookie sheets about 1 or 1 1/2 inches apart.

7) Bake in the oven for 11-12 minutes, they should be cracked and the cracks should still look raw. Let them cool for 5 minutes on the dish and then move to a cookie rack or a plate and let them fully cool.

Coconut Macaroons

Depending as to where you’re from will dictate what first pops into your head when you hear the word ‘macaroon‘. For me it’s these sweet coconut delights that take me straight back to being 11. Some people call these coconut haystacks. Before trialing this recipe today I think the last time I baked these retro treats was during Home Ec in High School. I wanted to resurrect these to link in with a school’s How We Were topic. When deciding I was going to teach this recipe in some of my classes this term little did I realise how hard it was going to find the simple recipe I remembered. Luckily my classic 1950’s Good Housekeeping cookbook helped me out.

When developing recipes for my classes I have rules and with the price of ingredients shooting up it’s been quite a challenge to produce a term of recipes that link to topic, stick within £1 per person per recipe budget, teach important skills and most importantly taste good. A challenge I seriously relish. This recipe works out at a frugal 56p per dozen. At the end of term I always review my costings that I do at the beginning of the term to see if something could be done better and it’s always interesting seeing what prices have gone up over the term.

To be frank, it’s quite difficult to make these look pretty. You can press the mixture out on to a board and then cut small rounds out, but I prefer to pile it in mounds. If you wish they can be decorated with a ¼ of glace cherry on top before baking, These are plain, simple, understated, sweet and gloriously chewy. Given Hubs doesn’t like coconut, these are all for me.

Coconut Macaroons
makes 12

50g sugar

1 egg white

100g desiccated coconut (make sure it is the unsweetened kind)

1) Whisk together the egg white and sugar until fluffy. You don’t have to whip it enough to get peaks.

2) Mix in the coconut until ingredients are well combined.

3) Line a baking tray with baking parchment and spoon the mixture in dessertspoon sized heaps on to the paper.

4) Bake at 180°c for 10 min. Allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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