When we visited my mother in law in Devon, she made a lovely pie for dessert and had some extra pastry. What did she do with it? She whipped up a batch of jam tarts!
The kids loved them. All you need is some pastry and a dollop of strawberry jam (or really any flavor you like). Easy peasy! Aren’t they pretty?
This week, I had an excess of slightly over ripe bananas and the desire to do some baking. What to do?
That same day, Ally from A Girl and Her Fork blogged about a recipe for banana bread that she had tried and loved. Simple ingredients, straightforward instructions. Bingo! I was sold. I made it the very next day.
The banana bread was legendary. Super moist, lots of depth of flavor, crispy on the edges, just delicious! If you’re in search for a go-to easy banana bread recipe, here’s the one!
Julia’s Best Banana Bread (Bon Appetit, March 2013)
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, and oil in a large bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
3. Bake until a knife inserted into the center of bread comes out clean, 60-70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around inside of pan to release the bread. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely.
In honor of Pi Day, I wanted to share with you my favorite fast pie recipe, courtesy of Jamie Oliver’s “Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast.”
For chicken pie:
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
A pat of butter
A bunch of scallions
6 ounces button mushrooms
1 heaping tablespoon all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons English mustard
1 generous tablespoon heavy cream
1-1/4 cups organic chicken broth
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1/3 of a nutmeg for grating
1 large sheet of all-butter puff pastry
Turn the oven on to 400ºF. Put the chicken breasts on a plastic board and slice into 1/2 inch strips. Put a lug of olive and a pat of butter into the hot large, wide pan. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes or so. Meanwhile, quickly trim the scallions and wash the mushrooms then slice together in a food processor. Add to the pan with 1 heaping tablespoon of flour and stir. Add 2 tablespoons of mustard, a generous tablespoon of heavy cream and 1-1/4 cups chicken broth. Stir well. Pick the thyme leaves and stir into the pan with a few fine gratings of nutmeg and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Leave to simmer.
Lightly dust a clean surface with flour and unroll the sheet of puff pastry. Use a small kitchen knife to lightly crisscross and score it. Take the pan of chicken off the heat. Tip the filling into an ovenproof baking dish slightly smaller than the sheet of pastry (approximately 9×13 inches). Cover the filing with pastry sheet, tucking in at the edges. Quickly beat the egg then brush it over the top of the pie. Put into the oven and cook on the top shelf for around 15 minutes or until golden and gorgeous.
BTW, this cookbook has a lot of great shortcuts for preparing a full meal (starter, main course and dessert) in under 30 minutes. I’ve timed a few of these meals and it always takes me a while longer than that (I’m a slow chopper!) but turns out beautifully!
Is it just me or is this cold/flu season hitting particularly hard?
I suffered the better part of November with a lingering cough that I couldn’t kick (although I would’ve kicked it hard, wearing a pair of steel-toed Doc Martens, if I could) – and the more people that I talk to, the more I realize that this is one monster of a cold going around. But never fear … there are remedies! Good ones! In this weekend’s Wall Street Journal, a suggestion for an outstanding one went something like this:
In a large cup, combine 1 spoonful honey, juice of 1/4 lemon, 1 cinnamon stick, small dash of cayenne (optional but recommended) and the tea bag of your choice. Stick 3 cloves into 1 small lemon wedge and add to the cup. Pour in a slug of bourbon, as much or as little as you like. Fill cup with boiling water, stir well and let steep 5 minutes. Savor slowly; repeat as necessary.
Yes! Cayenne and tea jazz up this classic recipe. The writer suggests Earl Gray, Chai, ginger tea or, indeed, chamomile, if you’re seeking a little sleeping solace. I have whiskey in the house, but no bourbon (and I do think that Jim Beam would be a delightful choice in this scenario), but now have a good (and health-giving) reason to buy some.
If you try this recipe, please tell me what you think!
I have fond memories of a Thanksgiving dinner celebrated in London so many years ago. One of my managers at the time was American and graciously hosted a spectacular dinner at her home near Marylebone for her American friends and a host of curious Brits.
I was vegetarian at the time and my contribution to the feast was a roasted butternut squash and caramelized onion tart, a recipe I found on Epicurious.com. It was a terribly involved recipe (at least for me, at the time) and required pastry (which I avoid like the plague), but the results were so festive and delicious, I hardly missed the turkey.
These days, I am back to eating turkey but I still like to make this tart at least once a year during the holiday season. This year, I made it the day before Thanksgiving as a tasty reminder of that one Thanksgiving meal so many years ago. If you’re looking for a pretty dish to please vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, try this! Read the rest of this entry
I realize that Gwyneth Paltrow is not actually British, but she’s British enough (married to a Brit, raising two half-Brit sprogs, speaking in that often strange, Madonna-esque English).
I bought her cookbook “My Father’s Daughter” last year and every once in a while, I will dip into it and have been rather successful. Her father’s pancake recipe is legendary in our house. I like her best stir-fried chicken recipe and her ten-hour chicken recipe. She’s got some great simple pasta dishes. But there’s one recipe I’ve eyed from the start – her mother Blythe Danner’s blueberry muffin recipe – and I finally made it on Saturday.
It’s a basic muffin recipe. You mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Wet ingredients in another bowl. Mix them together and then fold in the blueberries. It was straightforward, except the results were more like a drop scone batter than a cake batter.
And the final results:
Not very pretty, and not like the photos in the book, but it was as she described. Tart and sweet. It tasted wholesome and even a little nutritious. The kids actually ate around the blueberries (which were the tart component) and the cat wouldn’t leave us alone once the muffins came out of the oven. She didn’t eat them but lingered like she had hoped a piece of muffin might be in her future (as it turned out, I did offer her some and she smelled it longingly but didn’t go for it.)
Here’s the recipe:
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 organic large eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tsp granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with papers.
Whisk the butter, eggs and milk together in a bowl. In another bowl whisk together the flour, the 3/4 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold in the blueberries. Divide among the muffin cups and sprinkle the muffins with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Bake until a toothpick tests clean and the muffins are golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Best to eat these warm.
Yield: 1 dozen muffins. Active preparation time: 15 minutes. Total preparation time: 45 minutes.
First things first, a very happy birthday to my lovely husband (who hates to be blogged about so will refrain from saying any more here).
Well, except one thing. The cake.
I find it so challenging each year to move seamlessly from Halloween to his birthday. No matter how much I prep ahead of time, there’s always the issue of the cake (which I simply cannot bake, after a long night of trick-or-treating and merriment making!).
Here’s the goal:
It’s his favorite cake in the whole world. So very British that I just can’t buy it off the shelf. It’s nothing like American coffee cake, all streuseled and cinnamon-specked. Pillsbury has no idea WTH this cake is and neither do any of our local bakeries and so I usually go with his second favorite cake in America: A fruit basket cake (a buttermilk cake filled with fresh strawberries and bananas in whipped cream). No less delicious, I might add.
But this year, oh this year. I’m going to attempt the coffee and walnut cake. Yes, it will be late. But I hope it will be worth the wait!
If it is, I’ll post the recipe I used – I’m debating between BBC and Delia Smith right now. If it’s not, well, let’s never discuss this matter again (and will bribe a baker friend next year, perhaps, willing to make a cake on Halloween night).
When fall begins to assert itself, we love nothing more than a comforting dish like Toad in the Hole. We made some last week, just as the weather started to cool.
Don’t worry. No toads were harmed in the making of this meal. The origins of Toad in the Hole are here.
If you’ve ever had a Bullock’s popover (does anyone remember the department store Bullock’s and their delicious popovers, which were basically Yorkshire puddings?), imagine this done big, studded with British bangers (translation: sausages). My husband uses the Yorkshire pudding recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Feast cookbook as the base for the Toad in the Hole:
1 1/3 cups 2% milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
Packet of British bangers
Whisk the milk, eggs and salt well and let stand for 15 minutes, then whisk in the flour and let stand again until you need it. Cook at 450 degrees. Put the muffin tin in the oven to heat up for a good 10-15 minutes, with vegetable oil at the bottom. Add British bangers (we cut ours in half). When the pan and oil has been heated, pour in the yorkshire pudding batter and cook for 15-20 minutes or until they have puffed up gloriously.
My husband’s been down with a mean case of the man flu this week. Sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head and feverish, he is a walking (albeit overdramatic) Nyquil ad and make me want to swim in a sea of Purell.
But before the cold bug bit this week, he did some baking: a ginormous sausage roll. Typically sausage rolls are bite-sized British morsels, but this was supersized, making it a kind of pork pie-esque puff pastry loaf. The kids chowed down despite their love-hate relationship with minced meat, as did I, despite the fact that our chef became deathly ill the next day.
Yesterday, we had friends over for a lazy afternoon and an early dinner. The emphasis was on simple, and so I rolled out Nigella Lawson’s roquamole.
Roquamole is her luscious blend of roquefort and avocado – certainly not traditional by a long shot, but a delicious variation on the usual. What I like about this recipe is the customization factor – in this case, I went with a gorgonzola, instead of a sharper roquefort and then subbed out the jalapeños for Ortega green chilies (since we had kids to feed and wanted to keep things on the mild side). I served this with thick tortilla chips (Casa Sanchez gruesos), along with sliced radishes and carrot sticks for dipping. Delish!
Here’s the original recipe – again, feel free to change it up a bit to make it your own. It’s very forgiving!
1 cup crumbled Roquefort or Saint Agur blue cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
2 ripe avocados
1/4 cup sliced pickled green jalapeños from a jar
2 tablespoons finely sliced scallions
1/4 teaspoon paprika
large bag of blue corn tortilla chips
1. Crumble or mash the blue cheese with the sour cream in a bowl.
2. Mash in the avocados. If they are ripe, a fork should be all you need.
3. Roughly chop the sliced jalapeños and stir them into the mixtrue along with the finely sliced scallions.
4. Arrange in the center of a plate or dish, dust with paprika, and surround with tortilla chips. Dive in.