Gooseberry Jam

This was a very spur of the moment addition to my Sunday routine. Spur of the moment – not something that you might associate with jam making! I was returning some desert dishes to my neighbour and noticed that she had left a large bag of gooseberries on her front step. I mentioned this to her just in case she had forgotten them to which she replied “do you want them? I was going to make jam but I ran out of time.”

A bag of sharpness

These were picked from her allotment and were just begging to be jammed up. I got my 13 year old involved by helping to top and tail them while I sorted through the strawberries that were thrown in as a last minute addition (some were too bruised).

Prepped and ready

I did not have a recipe to use so I just winged it. I added a cup of water and boiled for about 20 minutes then added about 1.5kg of sugar.

Ready for the sugar

Because of the high levels of pectin already in the fruit I boiled for about 15 minutes after I added the sugar. In hindsight I think that I could have done without the water as the end result is more of a compote than a jam. Not to worry, it tastes yummy on hot buttered toast.

Finished article

Not bad for a last minute addition to my sunday kitchen. I will be taking a jar to my neighbour to say thanks.

Fresh Pizza

I am pleased to say that fresh pizza is a regular feature in our kitchen as I am a pizza addict. I hope to build my own outdoor wood fired oven for pizzas, bread and other delicious treats. I have been making pizza for over 20 years and therefore play around with the dough, sauce and topping preparation depending on desired outcome.

Smooth as silk

All I will say is that using a bread flour is always better although I have used plain or all purpose flour before without complaint. This will make 4-5 large thin pizza bases.

  • Flour – 1kg
  • warm water – 1 pint
  • salt – 2 tsp
  • sugar – 4 tsp
  • dried yeast – 3 tsp
  • oil

Dissolve sugar in water and add yeast and mix well (you can use fresh yeast also). Pour into flour and salt an knead for 10 mins. I have used a large bowl, the kitchen counter as well as a Kitchenaid mixer. Whatever equipment you have just work the dough until it is smooth and silky. Too wet- add flour; too dry – add warm water. Cover in a bowl and prove for 1 hour in a warm place; I sometimes drizzle with oil at this stage. Portion out and shape into smooth mounds then roll / stretch to fit your pan.

Panned dough

Ready to roll

Then you are free to unleash your inner topping demons. I am an anchovy, olive and chilli (flakes/jalapeño/habanero) nut but I guess not everyone shares my passion for such strong flavours.

Topped and ready

Sauced & Cheesed

Garden salad and some coleslaw made sure these bad boys slipped down nicely. I do love a good pizza. As I said there is scope for you to mess around and tweak the dough recipe. I have added varying amounts of oil, milk, garlic, rosemary etc to the dough before proving. What would you add or change? I would change the oven….. soon come.

Anchovy overload

Rock buns

Grandma Harris’ recipe

I don’t usually have this much time to bake and blog however we are on a mid term break so I have a bit of time. Today the occasion is an impromptu visit from my sister and her two little ones. As a result I have been in the kitchen early this morning putting together a few belly banging treats for everyone. My son is also expecting a good friend who moved to Kansas 3 years ago over for the day.

Sybil’s finest

These rock buns come from a recipe that I scribbled down one day (moons ago) when I had the privilege of standing over my Grandma’s shoulder while she effortlessly threw them together for tea one day. To this day it is one my most cherished kitchen memories as she was both an exceptional baker and second mother to me while I was away at boarding school. Sorely missed Sybil :’0(.

This makes about 16 nuggets of sheer nostalgic joy.

  • 8 oz self raising flour
  • 5 oz butter / marg
  • 5 oz sugar (I used caster)
  • 6 oz dried mixed fruit
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 egg to bind
  • Demerara sugar to top (optional)

Sift flour and spice into bowl then rub in the butter to large crumb consistency. Stir in sugar and fruit then bind together with the egg. It may need a splash of milk depending on the size of your egg. The dough should not be too sticky and leave the bowl cleanly. Spoon t-spoon sized blobs onto a greased baking sheet and top with a pinch of demerara  and bake at 200 c / 400 f for 10 -12 mins. Allow to cool – if you can resist :0)

I had to have this one

Mackerel salad

Back on track

Having had a long weekend celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee it’s time to get back on track and resume my regime that will aid my quest for the perfect beach bod. I am not sure that there is enough time for me to achieve the perfect bikini physique – ho hum. I managed 30 laps of the pool yesterday and a further 34 (at speed) today. Sweating in the water is something that I haven’t done for a while. I think I may have frightened some children when I cleared my blow hole on the last lap though.

Tempting though a visit to the local peri-peri outlet was I decided to continue my quest with a healthy plate of smoked mackerel salad.

Health kick salad

This is a regular menu item these days and it is such good eating. Sweet romaine hearts, smoked mackerel, cherry toms, olives, corn and a just hard egg. All drizzled with a new addition to my stock cupboard and one which will be a regular from now on: balsamic glaze. It may not be the best out there but it is divine none the less. Bon apetit.

The daddy