Monday, 1 September 2014

Gingered Figs - Slow Cooker Challenge, September 2014

'Tis the 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness'.  Hopefully we won't have too many mists just yet, as summer seems to have returned for a few more days, however I am looking for some fruitfulness as September's Slow Cooker Challenge is cook with FRUIT in your slow cooker.

Your dish can be sweet or savoury as long as it contains some fruit.  My recipe is a simple one,  I love baked figs and thought it would be easy to pop them in the slow cooker and it worked really well.

Slow Cooker Gingered Figs
4 ripe figs
50ml orange juice
4 dessert spoons Mackays Spiced Ginger Preserve (or chopped preserved ginger)

1. Cut the hard part of the stem from the top of the figs, then slice a cross into the top of each one, be careful not to cut all the way to the bottom or your figs will fall apart.
2. Place the figs in the basin of the slow cooker, open out the sections of the fig a little and fill the space with a dessert spoon of Ginger Preserve.
3. Pour the orange juice around the figs and cover with the lid.
4. Bake on low for 2-3 hours.
5. Remove the figs from the slow cooker to a serving dish, pour the juices into a pan and bring to a rapid boil, reducing the syrup by half, then pour this over the figs and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
6. Serve with greek yogurt, drizzling the syrup over the figs and yogurt.

If you would like to take part in the Slow Cooker Challenge, then please: 

  • Make your recipe in your Slow Cooker and post a photograph and the recipe, or a link to a recipe, on your blog
  • Link to Farmersgirl Kitchen
  • Use the Slow Cooker Challenge logo in your post
  • If you use twitter, tweet your post with @FarmersgirlCook and #SlowCookerChallenge and I will re-tweet it to my followers AND post your picture on the dedicated Pinterest Board. 
  • Please do not publish recipes from cookbooks on your blog without permission, they are copyright.
  • If you are using recipes from another website, please link to the recipe on the website rather than publishing the recipe.
  • One entry per blog.
  • Recipes must be added to the linky by the 28th of each month.

The phrase 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness' comes from John Keats' poem 'To Autumn'

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Wisdom for Home Preservers and Spiced Blackberry Jam

When autumn (fall) starts to creep in, it's definitely time to start preserving the harvest from your garden or the hedgerows.  People have been preserving food since ancient times—evidence shows that Middle Eastern cultures were using the heat of the sun to dry their foods as early as 12,000 BC—for reasons of survival or culture or both. Fast forward to the present day, and preserving our food—perhaps home-grown, seasonal, local, organic, or free-range—is an essential and enjoyable part of a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

Wisdom for Home Preservers by Robin Ripley is a comprehensive guide to preserving in all sorts of different ways including bottling, freezing, drying, fermenting, salt curing and smoking and cold storage/root cellaring. This isn't a cook book, there are no recipes, but it is full of really helpful tips which will help you get the most from your produce and answer any questions you might have.  Here are a few of the useful tips:

Tip 158: Pick the right bowls and pots for pickling
Avoid containers and utensils made of unlined copper, iron, zinc or brass when pickling.  These materials may react with acid and salt and can cloud or discolour your pickles.  For pots, pick such materials as stainless steel, heatproof glass or hard-anodised aluminium.

Tip 254: Set your freezer temperature to -18
Freezer temperatures settings should be set to -18 C (0 F) or lower.  Not all freezer settings are accurate, though, so get a freezer thermometer, available at supermarkets and kitchenware retailers, and regularly monitor the temperate and adjust the setting if needed.

Tip 279: Create your own herb meat rubs
With herbs rolling in from the garden by the basketful, don't forget you can mix the match them to make unique and delicious rubs for meat and poultry.  For poultry, try combining dried lemon thyme, sage, rosemary, salt and pepper. For beef, try a combination of dried thyme, sage, marjoram, garlic and onion powders, pepper and salt. 

Garden and food writer ROBIN RIPLEY has been growing, cooking and preserving fresh food from her garden since moving to a small farm in rural Maryland 15 years ago. She is an enthusiastic experimenter of all things related to food, including bread and pastry baking, wine and cheese making, canning and preserving. She is co-author of Grocery Gardening and blogs about her gardening, preserving and made-from-scratch cooking projects at She also raises pet chickens, which she blogs about at Robin writes and talks regularly with groups about gardening, potager design and the importance and joy of supporting locally-grown and fresh foods. 

Wisdom for Home Preservers
Author: Robin Ripley
Publisher: Apple Press
Published: 4th September
RRP: £12.99

I have one copy of Wisdom for Home Preservers to give away (scroll down to the Rafflecopter widget to enter)

As a bonus I thought I'd share this recipe for Spiced Blackberry Jam with you.  The blackberries in our lane have been particularly good this year and it's been so easy to collect  enough to make a few pots of jam. If you would like to make this jam, I found the recipe at 'Putting up with the Turnbulls' you can find it here: Spiced Blackberry Jam  it's absolutely delicious, the spices are very subtle but enhance the flavour of the fruit.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 29 August 2014

We're Jammin' - Slow Cooker Challenge Round Up, Aug 2014

The theme for the August Slow Cooker Challenge was 'Preserves' and my regular entrants didn't disappoint.  Sarah from 'Tales from the Garden Shed' brought a ray of French sunshine, and some inspiration,  with her recipe for Peach Jam.

Now this is a brilliant and unusual combination which I would never have though of.  Slow Cooker Carrot, Lemon and Almond Chutney is the entry from Strong as Soup and is reminiscent of middle eastern cuisine.

Baking Queen 74 has taken to jam making in the Slow Cooker with the enthusiasm of a convert!  In her entry for the challenge she brings us two jam recipes a zingy Blueberry and Ginger Jam AND Blackberry Jam  both look really delicious.

My own preserve created in the slow cooker was Lazy, Luscious Beetroot Relish.  The beets were baked in the slow cooker and then the chutney made in the usual way on the stove in only 20 minutes.

Thanks to all who joined me for the slow cooker challenge, look out for the new challenge which will be posted early in September. 

Monday, 25 August 2014

Gourmet Burgers and Luscious, Spiced Beetroot Relish

Sometimes two recipes just come together in a perfectly delicious union, and so it was with the Beetroot Relish and the Beetroot Burger.

The Beetroot Burger comes from Burgers  the new book from Paul Gayler MBE, hailed by James Martin as "the book I have been waiting for", which was sent to me for review. Paul Gayler was Executive Chef at The Lanesborough Hotel London, the five-star hotel on the edge of London’s Hyde Park. He has 20 years’ experience in some of the most respected kitchens and restaurants in Europe. As well as having made many appearances on British TV, he is the author of over 20 cookery books. He has also won the Guild of Food Writers’ Cookery Book of the Year and has been nominated for a prestigious AndrĂ© Simon Award.

  It is a fun book, shaped like a burger layered with goodies.  In Burgers, Paul Gayler presents his favourite 25 burger recipes. As well as the expected Ultimate burger with ‘the works’, there’s a wealth of delicious and imaginative offerings. For carnivores, there’s an eclectic mix and not just beef: choose, for instance, from a Caribbean pork burger, Smoked chicken cobb burger, Tandoori lamb burger or Turkey BLT burger stack. Vegetarians and fish eaters can enjoy a Feta club burger, Southwest red bean 
burger, Lebanese kibbeh burger or Jumbo prawn burger, among others. There really is a burger for everyone. There is also a section for 'Sides' including Simple Tomato Ketchup, Oven Cheese Fries, Moroccan-style Caponata  and Calypso Mojo.   But back to the Beetroot Burger, which is made with minced (ground) beef, the beetroot adds a glorious sweet and sour flavour, but doesn't overpower the beef at all and provides only a slight pinkish tinge, I made the smaller burgers as I felt that four burgers from this quantity of mince would make to large a portion for us. The smaller ones fit nicely on the muffin too!

To order Burgers at the discounted price of £7.99 including p&p* (RRP: £9.99), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG198. 
*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Beetroot Burger
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
500g minced beef (ground chuck) chilled
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp pickled beetroot, finely chopped (or 3 tbsp Beetroot Relish)
1 tbsp pickled beetroot juice (omit if using relish)
vegetable oil, for brushing and frying.

To serve: 4 English Muffins, salad of tossed green leaves or wilted spinach, small boiled new potatoes.

1. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan (skillet).  Cooke the onion slowly until pale and soft, then allow to cool
2. Combine the minced beef, egg yolks, capers, sea salt and pepper.
3. Add the onion and mix thoroughly together
4. Add the beetroot and juice (or relish), mix well.
5. With wet hands, shape the mixture into 4 large flat patties (the traditional shape, or 8 smaller taller patties.
6. Heat a char grill or pan grill, oil it and the patties lightly and cook them on a medium heat for about 5 minutes each side (alternately heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook them that way).
7. Split and toast the muffins, serve the burgers in the toasted muffins with a little salad of tossed green leave or with  a little wilted spinach and boiled new potatoes. I added an extra spoonful of Beetroot Relish on top of the burger, just because.

by Paul Gayler MBE
Published by Jacqui Small
Shaped hardback 
August 2014
RRP £9.99

The Beetroot Relish comes via Not Quite Nigella and is made to her recipe for Lazy, Luscious, Spiced Beetroot Relish.  I bought some beetroot at the Farmers Market and was planning to make the Beetroot Chutney I made last year.  That particular recipe has a chunky texture which isn't very good for spreading on sandwiches, so I was looking for more of a relish with a softer texture and found this super simple recipe.  I cooked my beetroot in the Slow Cooker which has to be the easiest and least messy way to bake beetroot.
Simply wash the beetroot, place a piece of foil in the base of the slow cooker and put the beets on top. Bake for 5-6 hours depending on the size of the beetroot.  Then, wearing a pair of rubber gloves, slip the skins off before preparing for the relish. 

I can't emphasise enough how good this relish is, sweet, spicy and just enough acid tang to counteract the sweetness, but no burn and no earthy taste, it's just delicious and I plan to make another batch very soon. Thanks to 'Not Quite Nigella' for allowing me to link to her recipe. 

The theme for the Slow Cooker Challenge this month is preserves, as I baked the beetroot in the slow cooker, I'm including the Beetroot Relish in my own challenge event.  Why not have a look and see the other entries or maybe try a slow cooker preserve recipe yourself.   

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Cheese and Chive Scones with Marjoram and Marigold Cream Cheese

I love to make scones.  It's so simple to rub together the ingredients and a few minutes in a hot oven produces a fresh, soft and wholesome quick bread, perfect with soup, with cheese or in this case with a fresh marjoram infused cream cheese sprinkled with marigold petals.

Cheese and Chive Scones with Marjoram Cream Cheese
225g wholemeal self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
50g butter or soft margarine
50g grated hard cheese (I used cheddar)
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
1/4 tsp chilli powder
a pinch of salt
1 egg

2 tbsp cream cheese
1 tsp finely chopped marjoram leaves

A few marigold petals to scatter

For the Scones
1. Heat the oven to 220C, Gas 7
2. Put the flour and baking powder in a bowl and rub in the butter or margarine until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
3. Add the cheese, chives, chilli powder and salt.
4. Crack the egg into a measuring jug mix it with a fork and then make up the liquid to 150ml with milk.
5. Stir the milk into the flour and mix to a soft dough, add a little extra milk if required.
6. Turn onto a lightly floured table and gently roll out to about 1.25cm thick.
7. Cut into rounds, the size of the cutter will determine how many scones you make.
8. Place the scones on a greased baking tray, brush the tops with a little milk and bake for about 10 minutes or until pale golden brown.
9. Remove the scones from the tray and leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the Marjoram Cream Cheese
Mix the cream cheese with the marjoram, leave to infuse for at least 30 minutes.

Spread the cooled scones with the marjoram cream cheese and sprinkle with marigold petals.  Best served with a cup of tea.

I'm entering my Cheese and Chive Scones for Cooking with Herbs, the blog challenge run by Karen at Lavender and Lovage, this month's theme is Summer Herbs and Flowers - well I've given you both, enjoy!

The Love Cake challenge run by Jibber JabberUK is looking for savoury bakes in August, so my cheese and chive scones, with a little pinch of chilli heat, are a perfect match.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Peach and Bramble Meringue Slice

At the end of the summer, peaches, nectarines and foraged berries, like blackberries, are sweet and full of flavour.  I'm lucky living on the farm, that I can simply step out of my back door and down our lane to pick some 'brambles'.  Here in Scotland there are not quite enough ready to make jam or jelly, but there were just the right amount to add to a tray baked cake.

It all started with the two egg whites I had left over from another recipe.  I didn't want to make a pavlova or meringues, much though I love them.  I could have frozen the egg whites for another day, but there was no cake in the tin so my thought was to make a cake and top it with meringue.  This recipe is adapted from a plain vanilla tray bake sponge, but I didn't add any milk to the mix as I knew the fruit would add moisture.

Peach and Bramble Meringue Slice
For the cake
2 peaches or nectarines
approximately 75g of blackberries (brambles)
175g butter or soft margarine
225g self-raising flour
1 1/2 level teaspoons baking powder
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the meringue
2 egg whites
100g caster sugar

1. Heat the oven to 180 C, Gas 4.  Grease and line a roasting tin 30 x 22.5 cm.
2. Skin and chop the peaches or nectarines.
3. Place the butter or margarine, flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs and milk together in a large roomy bowl and beat well for about 2 minutes until well blended. Gently fold in the chopped peach or nectarine pieces.
4. Turn the mixture into the tin and smooth the top, press the brambles into the mixture, distributing them evenly across the mixture.
5. Bake for about 35 minutes until the cake has shrunk from the sides of the tin and springs back when pressed in the centre with you fingertips. Don't let it get too dark as you will be returning it to the oven.
6. Turn the oven down to 160C, Gas 3.
7. Place the egg whites in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until they form soft peaks.  Add the sugar a spoon at a time whisking well until all the sugar has been used.
8. Spread the meringue over the cake and bake for 10 minutes until the meringue is firm to the touch and pale golden brown.
9. Leave to cool in the tin and when cold, cut into squares.

The cake is moist and delicious with the sweet fruit pieces adding a soft lusciousness and the meringue a light crispy texture.  You can make the cake without the meringue and it would be almost as good, but the meringue really enhances it. 

I'm entering my Peach and Bramble Meringue Slice for this month's Alpha Bakes which is asking for bakes which include the letter P.  Alphabakes is a monthly challenge run by Caroline Makes and The More than Occasional Baker 

Friday, 15 August 2014

Memories of Crab Cakes - recreating a Taste of Nova Scotia

In my journey through Nova Scotia in June this year, it seemed that Crab Cakes became my signature dish. On my first night in Halifax, I chose Crab Cakes (bottom left) as my starter at Stories at the Halliburton and enjoyed them very much.  The second time I had Crab Cakes was at Pictou Lodge Resort, chef chose the menu for me and it included Crab Cakes with Pineapple Carpaccio and Corn Salsa (top photo), then finally I made Northumberland Snow Crab Cakes with Dill Remoulade (bottom right) on a cooking day on the farm with the Kilted Chef.

I enjoyed all of these different Crab Cakes, although the Snow Crab Cakes were probably the best of all, simple and scrumptious.  Now back in Scotland and summer seems to have gone on it's holidays, it was 13C and pouring with rain the other day.  ​A new survey carried by International Currency Exchange (ICE) found that majority of people choose their holiday purely based on the food available at the destination. I hadn't really thought about that before, but it certainly is a factor when I'm planning my holidays.  In order to keep that holiday feeling going I decided to recreate a version of Nova Scotia Crab Cakes. I didn't have any Snow Crab, in fact I was struggling to find any crab at all in the small town where I shop as there is no fish shop and the supermarket didn't have any fresh crab.  I had the choice of tinned crab or or the not very appetising looking 'Seafood Sticks'.  In the end I decided to go with the Seafood Sticks and I'm pleased to say that they worked very well indeed, making this dish one much less expensive and still delicious.

'Crab' Cakes with Dill Remoulade
makes 24 small crab cakes

500g crab meat or seafood sticks (if you use the seafood sticks, blitz them in a food processor first)
1/2 yellow pepper, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 a large red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp  fresh dill, chopped
60g mayonnaise
1 egg white
15g breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

2 eggs beaten
2 tbsp flour
300g fresh white breadcrumbs made from day old bread

Dill Remoulade 
2 tsp fresh dill finely chopped
2tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
180g Mayonnaise

Mix all the ingredients together and divide into 24 small cakes.  Dip each cake in flour, then egg and then in the breadcrumbs, place on a baking tray lined with parchment and place in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up.

Make the Dill Remoulade by mixing all the ingredients together and leave for at least 30 minutes for the flavours to blend.

Saute the crab cakes a few at a time, keeping them warm in the oven, then serve with the Dill Remoulade.

Nova Scotia 'Crab' Cakes with Dill Remoulade

Here are a few memories of my trip to Nova Scotia, I can certainly recommend it as a foodie holiday destination.

This post is my entry to the ICE competition, I received expenses for the ingredients I used but was not paid to write this post and all opinions are my own. 
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