Monday, 20 April 2015

Easy Rhubarb Millefeuille for the Great British Rhubarb Recipe Round-Up

The Great British Rhubarb Recipe Round Up Linky Party opened on Saturday and is proving very popular.  I'm not quite sure why we have such an affection for these acidic pink stems.  I can only imagine that it is because they are the first 'fruit' of the year and a harbinger of spring.

There is a local rhubarb connection here in the south west of Scotland as James Mounsey, a Scot who had been the doctor to Tsar Peter III, fled for his life back to Dumfriesshire when the Tsar was assassinated. He brought rhubarb seeds with him and from these he successfully grew fields of high quality rhubarb.  The house he fled to is only about half a mile from where I live, so it is perhaps, not so surprising that our rhubarb is prolific and that our plants must be nearly 50 years old.

I thought a lot about the recipe I would make for The Great British Rhubarb Recipe Round-Up, I changed my mind several times. I wanted to make something impressive, that didn't need a huge amount of rhubarb and that was easy enough for anyone to make, here is what I came up with:

Easy Rhubarb Millefeuille
Serves 4

125g filo pastry (half a 250g pack)
50g butter, melted
125g caster sugar
6 to 8 slim stems of rhubarb
200ml thick and creamy vanilla custard (I got mine at M&S)
150ml double cream
tablespoon of icing sugar, sifted

  1. Lay a sheet of filo pastry on to a baking sheet covered with baking paper, brush with melted butter and sprinkle over a little caster sugar.  Cover with another 3 sheets of filo, each brushed with butter and sprinkled with sugar, press down.
  2. Cut into even rectangles, you will need 12 rectangles in total (3 for each portion)
  3. Bake at 160C for 8-10 minutes until golden brown, leave on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling tray until cold.
  4. Measure the length of the pastry rectangles, then cut your rhubarb into lengths to match.  You will need 24 lengths of rhubarb (6 for each portion). Place the rhubarb into a baking dish and sprinkle over the remaining sugar (75g), roast the rhubarb in the oven at 160C for around 12 minutes or until you can easily pierce the stalks with a knife but before the rhubarb starts to disintegrate. Remove and leave to cool. 
  5. Whip the double cream and until very thick and stiff, fold in the custard and load the mixture into a piping bag with a large star nozzle (Wilton 1M).
  6. Place the pastry rectangles onto the serving plates, pipe cream in three rows, place three stalks of rhubarb on top, then place another pastry on top and repeat the cream and rhubarb.  Top with the final pastry rectangle and dust with icing sugar.

I hope you will join me and Karen from Lavender and Lovage by sharing your rhubarb recipes and enjoying the inspiration of the great entries we have already received.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

The Great British Rhubarb Recipe Round-Up!

While slender stems of forced rhubarb are proclaimed as a delicacy, I prefer my rhubarb when the stems become thicker and turn a beautiful ruby red, Karen at Lavender and Lovage shares my love of rhubarb and rhubarb recipes, so we are inviting you to join us for

The Great British Rhubarb Recipe Round-Up  

You don't have to be British to join in and you can use fresh, frozen, canned or any other kind of rhubarb that you can get your hands on. It's very simple, here is what to do:

  • If you put your post on twitter please mention @FarmersgirlCook  @KarenBurnsBooth and #GreatBritishRhubarbRecipes in your message and we will retweet all those we see.
  • By entering you are agreeing to let us use an image from your entry on this site, and to pin to Pinterest.
  • Please be respectful of  other people's copyright and give credit where it is due. 
  • Add your recipe link to the live Linky posted at the bottom of this page.
Closing date 30th April 2015

For some inspiration check out the recipes on the Farmersgirl Kitchen Rhubarb Collection Page

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Mackerel with Madeirean Special Sauce and Cooked Maize (Mihle or Polenta)

This is my take on a dish we enjoyed at the Apolo Cafe in Funchal, Madeira.  We had just visited the local farmers market, including the fish market and it had whetted our appetite for lunch.

The Cafe Apolo is right in the centre of Funchal right opposite the Cathedral and we were tempted by the special 'Fresh from the Market' lunch of 'Mackerel Fillets with Madeirean Special Sauce and Cooked Maize (Polenta)'.

We really enjoyed eating at this street cafe, it is frequented by locals and tourists alike and is a great place for people watching.

This was our meal, a bowl of creamy polenta and a plate with two huge fillets of mackerel with a pool a lovely Madeira sauce flavoured with thyme.

I wanted to recreate this fish dish, all I had to go on was the name of the dish and what I had tasted.  I reckoned that if it was a Madeirean Sauce it would contain Madeira, don't you think?  We had really enjoyed drinking a glass of Madeira on our holiday and had also been to the tour of Blandy's to learn about how Madeira was made and the history of this group of producers.  I was pleased to find a bottle of Blandy's Duke of Clarence Madeira in my local supermarket.  I had also definitely seen and tasted thyme in the sauce and that's about all   Here is what I came up with:

Mackerel in Madeirean Special Sauce with Cooked Maize (Mihle or Polenta)
Serves 4

For the Polenta
1.5 litres water
1 tsp salt
180g polenta
100g grated cheese
20-30g butter

1. Bring the water to the boil in a large pan, add the salt.
2. Pour the polenta in a stream into the boiling water whisking gently.
3. Keep whisking until the polenta has thickened.
4. Cover the polenta and either keep cooking on the stove at a low heat, or put in the oven at 150C.  Stir well every 10 minutes scraping down the sides.  Cook for about 30 minutes.
5. Stir in the cheese and butter and serve immediately.

For the fish
4 fresh mackerel fillets
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 lemon zest and juice
2 heaped tsp  butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
50 ml Madeira

  1. Place the mackerel on a flat plate or baking tray and cover with the grated lemon zest, lemon juice and a tsp thyme leaves stripped from the stalks, cover with cling film and leave for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Put the Madeira in a small pan on a medium high heat and simmer to reduce the liquid by half.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a pan on a medium heat and sauté the onion until soft, add the butter then cook the mackerel fillets for about 3 minutes each side.
  4. Serve the mackerel fillets on top of the creamy polenta and season the pan juices to taste and pour over the dish, the pour over the reduced Madeira.

I also chopped some courgettes and pan fried them in butter with garlic and cherry tomatoes to serve with the mackerel and polenta.

I used this amazing Farina Polenta Taragna from UFUUD a specialist supplier of traditional Italian food. Molino Filippini’s special flour for taragna polenta is composed of a mixture of ground buckwheat and maize, carefully blended to ensure a top-class product that respects the traditions of northern Italy.  I'll be sharing more delicious Italian foods from UFUUD very soon.

Polenta Chips
Polenta is incredibly filling so we found that we had quite a lot left over.  I lined a tray with baking paper and spread the thick polena on top.  I then left it in the fridge for a few days, although you can use it as soon as it is cold and set., and sliced it into finger shapes.

To bake the 'chips' I brushed oil onto a non-stick baking sheet and laid out the chips with a little gap between each one, I then brushed all the chips with oil and baked in the oven at 180C for 15 minutes.  I took the tray out and turned the chips over, then returned to the oven for another 15 minutes.

They were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, the flavour of the cheese came through more strongly than in the wet polenta.  The change in taste reminded me of the gnocchi  I made, which was also much tastier when sautéed in butter!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Wild Garlic Hummus, Wild Garlic Pesto and Green Chicken - Obsessed by Spring Foraging

I make a batch of hummus every month and freeze it in portions, so we always have hummus available, it's my husband's favourite filling for his lunchtime sandwich.  I was looking for ways to use the wild garlic I had picked and, as hummus contains garlic, I decided to try making it with wild garlic.
Sometimes I forget just how fortunate I am to live in the country, mostly in the cold dark days of winter.  However, I am reminded of the joys of country living  in spring when everything starts to grow again.  Close to where I live there are some woods with a burn (stream) running through them and this is my favourite place to walk.  This year the Wild Garlic (Ransoms) have gone completely berserk and are covering the roadsides as well as the side of this little waterway.

We even had a late flurry of snow this weekend but you can see that the flowers are nearly ready to pop on this particular wild garlic plant.

Wild Garlic Hummus
250g cooked chickpeas
3 tablespoons of tahini
1 lemon, juiced
50g wild garlic, roughly torn
60ml olive oil
some of the cooking liquid from the chickpeas or water

Put all the ingredients into your food processor and process.  Add cooking liquid or water until you have the thickness and texture you prefer.

Wild Garlic Pesto
If you ask how best to preserve foraged wild garlic you will find many people will direct you to make pesto.  So I did! It has a stunning colour and an intense flavour and you can freeze it for later.

You need:
100g wild garlic leaves, roughly torn
50g nuts (I used almonds)
200 ml oil (I used olive oil)
75g cheese (I used a combination of grated cheddar and parmesan)
Pinch of sea salt

Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  Serve with pasta, risotto or however you would usually serve pesto.

Green Chicken or Turkey Breast
It looks a bit lurid when you first rub this mixture over your chicken or turkey, but it mellows down once cooked and and adds a subtle garlic flavour to the meat.  

40 g wild garlic
1 tsp lemon zest
juice of 1 lemon
125 ml  of olive oil

  1. Roughly tear up the wild garlic leaves and put them and the rest of the ingredients in a blender and whizz until smooth.  
  2. Loosen the skin of the chicken or turkey breast and rub some of the mixture under the skin, directly onto the breast meat.  Then rub the rest of the mixture over the whole bird.
  3. Roast  breast side up for 20 minutes at 180C, then turn over and roast for the time appropriate to the size of your bird to make sure it is cooked through.  Test by piercing with a skewer at the thickest part and the juices will run clear when it is cooked. 

Wild Garlic Omelette
A very simple dish but one which really makes the flavour of the wild garlic the main feature.

3 free range eggs
1 tablespoon of water
4 or 5 Wild Garlic leaves, finely shredded
a knob of butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Beat the eggs and water together and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Melt the butter in the omelette pan (I actually keep a pan only for omelettes but any good pan will do) on a medium heat until it starts to sizzle.
  2.  Pour in the eggs and as they start to set push the outside edges towards the centre and tip the pan to all the uncooked egg on top to fill the gaps, do this for about 30 seconds then add the wild garlic leaves.
  3. When the egg is almost but not quite cooked, Fold the omelette over onto itself , there should still be a soft oozy bit in the middle. Serve with brown bread and butter and a green salad.  
I hope you have enjoyed this foray into the world of foraged food and you are encouraged to seek out some wild food for yourself.  Please be very careful what you pick and where you pick it from, getting someone to show you which plants are safe is the best way to learn. 

I'm adding these recipes to Cooking with Herbs, the Linky Party run by Karen at Lavender and Lovage 

I'm also entering this seasonal wild garlic for Ren Behan's Simple and in Season which is being hosted this month by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Great British Cooking, an 'English' Rarebit and a Giveaway

Carolyn and Chris Calidcott have travelled the world in pursuit of delicious food.  In this book they come home to explore the long-overlooked delights of traditional British Cooking. Tried and tested recipes, some with a twist, combine with a stylish evocation of the nation's style: pubs, country lanes, sweet peas in a jar and bracing Sunday walks.

A potted history of English cooking:  A very accessible history running through from the Roman settlement of Britain through to the twentieth century.

The Full English: includes recipes for 'The Fry-Up', Bubble and Squeak, Marmalade, Tomato Ketchup. Coddled Eggs and Kedgeree.

The Pub Lunch: some tasty recipes for a perfect lunch including Rhubarb and Apple Chutney, Pickled Onions, Raised Pork Pie, Piccalilli, Cornish Pasties, English Rarebit (see below) and Bangers, Mustard Mash and Onion Gravy.

The Sunday Roast:  We all love a roast and this chapter, not only provides you with the recipes for the roasts but also for the accompaniments, so with the Roast Beef there is Yorkshire Pudding and Horseradish Sauce, with Roast Pork, Apple Sauce and Sage and Onion Stuffing, not to mention that very popular crackling (not popular with me,  I might add).  Roast Lamb comes with Apricot Stuffing and Mint Sauce.  Recipes for Roast potatoes, gravy, clapshot and various vegetables complete your meal.  There are even instructions for cooking your Christmas Turkey with the accompaniments of Chestnut Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce.

The Nation's Favourites: Stroll, or eat your way, down memory lane with Lancashire Hotpot, Shepherd's Pie, Steak and Kidney Pudding, Toad in the Hole with Onion Gravy, Chicken and Mushroom Pie, Beer Battered Cod and Twice-Cooked Chips served with Mushy Peas and Tartare Sauce, and finally a Poached Salmon with Samphire and English Butter Sauce.

The Queen of Puddings: Starting with a recipe for a creamy home made custard which would go very well  with the Jam Roly Poly or a lovely fruit crumble.  A traditional favourite of Bread and Butter Pudding, or a Treacle Tart with a twist - a Gingery Treacle Tart! Rice Pudding, Raspberry and Banana Trifle, Spice Baked Apples, Queen of Puddings and for the grand finale a Christmas Plum Pudding with Brandy Butter.

Who is this book for?
I think this would be a good book to give to a visitor from another country, as it covers a good selection of traditional English (I'll come on to that in a moment) recipes.  It would also be ideal for someone who is relatively new to cooking and would like to recreate traditional comfort food recipes.

A neat little book packed with recipes and excellent photographs.  As well as the history, each recipe has an introductory paragraph of interesting information.  The recipes are simple and easy to follow.

This book is called 'Great British Cooking', however I could not find a single recipe for a traditional Scottish, Welsh or Irish dish. So I feel that the title does not represent the content.  Even the Welsh Rarebit has become English Rarebit, although it was extremely good!

English Rarebit
Serve 4

1 tbsp plain flour
1 generous teaspoon English mustard powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
6 tbsp strong beer, dry cider or milk
1 heaped tablespoon butter
250g/9oz strong Cheddar cheese, grated
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Black pepper to taste
4 thick slices of good bread
A small glass of red wine

1. Combine the flour, mustard and cayenne in a bowl and gradually pour in the beer, stirring untl smooth.
2. Place the butter in a small saucepan and melt over a low heat, Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the beer/flour mixture.
3. Add the cheese and gently warm, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the cheese has completely melted and a thick sauce forms.  Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and season to taste.
4. Toast the bread, sprinkle with a little red wine (I didn't do this and it was fine without) and spread with the cheese mixture, taking care to cover the crusts.  Grill until brown and molten. Serve immediately.

The rarebit was really delicious and I would definitely make it again.

Great British Cooking
By Carolyn Caldicott
Photography by Chris Caldicott
Published by Frances Lincoln
RRP £12.99

I have one copy of Great British Cooking by Carolyn Caldicott to Giveaway, just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter Widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 6 April 2015

Bola de Caco - Traditional Bread from Madeira

I've recently return from a holiday (vacation) on the beautiful island of Madeira.  After the first day of rain and mist, the sun shone and we really enjoyed the island and, of course, the food.  As it is an island there was a lot of fish which we love, but today I am sharing with you a recipe for the local bread, Bola de Caco.  We were served this little round loaf as garlic bread on several occasions, but I also saw it sold from a stall as a sandwich snack.

Bola de Caco Garlic Bread served with fresh cheese and olives, eaten in a restaurant overlooking the Marina at Funchal. 
On our return, I did a little research and found that one of the ingredients in Bola de Caco is sweet potato, although I think their sweet potato must be less orange as the bread was not as coloured as mine.  Some recipes suggested a sour dough, but I didn't have time to wait, so my version is a fast action yeast version.  I have kept faithful to the method of baking which is in a pan, so it's a bit like a cross between a tattie scone and a giant English Muffin.

Bola de Caco

500g plain flour (not strong bread flour)
7g sachet Fast Action Yeast
200 grams sweet potatoes, (about 2)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
350ml warm water


  • Bake the sweet potatoes, either in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or in the microwave for 8-10 minutes (timings depend on size of sweet potatoes). Once cooked until soft, scoop out the flesh and mash until smooth.
  • Combine the sweet potatoes with the other ingredients and enough warm water to make a very soft, wet dough. Using one hand, bring all the ingredients together and mix thoroughly for 5-10 minutes or until dough becomes elastic.
  • Cover dough loosely with cling film and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  • Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions. Oil your hands, so they don't stick to the dough, shape into flattened rounds and set aside to prove for another 30 minutes, covered with a damp towel.
  • Melt a little butter in a small, high sided pan (or whatever kind of pan you have) and cook each round over a low heat for 8-10 minutes on each side until browned and cooked through.
  • Repeat process with remaining bread, keeping the cooked Bola soft by covering with a clean tea towel on a cooling rack.

1. baking the Bola de Caco in the pan (a smaller high sided pan is recommended but I don't have one)
2. The dough on it's second rise
3. Texture of the bread which is slightly chewy on the outside but soft and light inside.
4. The bread rounds cooling.

I was surprised how easy it was to make the Bola de Caco and pleased that they cooked all the way through.  As you can see above, this little bread also makes a great bacon butty!

I'm entering the Bola de Caco for the new Bread based linky "Bready Steady Go" the brainchild of Jen from Jen's Food and Michelle from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Easy Salmon and Butter Bean Bake for Canned Food Week

Healthy Eating: It’s in the can!
-       Celebrating Canned Food Week 2015 (March 30 – April 5, 2015)

Eating healthily is one thing many of us aspire to do, whether it’s by following a diet, cutting out excess sugar or trying to eat a little less. However lots of us struggle to know where to start. That’s why for Canned Food Week 2015 (March 30 – April 5), Canned Food UK has teamed up with celebrity nutritionist Amanda Hamilton, to show you just how easy it is.

Canned Food Week aims to raise awareness of canned food and its nutritional benefits. This year Canned Food UK and Amanda Hamilton have produced a set of healthy eating plans, each one with recipes that will take you from breakfast through to dinner.

Running from Monday to Sunday, seven plans have been created for a number of different audiences, from older people and students, to families with younger children and couples. Each plan also features a brand new recipe from Canned Food UK, two of which have been designed by Canned Food UK ambassador and celebrity chef James Martin.
I don't know about you, but I always have canned food in the house.  Tinned tomatoes are a must, I also keep a stock of canned fish and pulses, I even have a can of snails in my larder!  It's always great to have some new ideas for how to use those cans, they are brilliant for self-catering and camping holidays too.

For lots of ideas, you can download the healthy meal plans from and cook some of the meals, which will be made available during Canned Food Week.  I chose to make the Salmon and Butterbean Bake by James Martin, which is featured in the Healthy Eating Plan for your growing Teens, there are no growing teens in my household any more, but it's a lovely easy dish and works just as well for any member of the family.  But don't take my word for it, you can watch James Martin making this dish on the Canned Food Cooking Channel 

Salmon and Butter Bean Bake
A simple and easy bake to feed the whole family

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
3 x 213g can pink salmon
1 tbsp chopped tarragon leaves
2 x 400g can butter beans, drained and rinsed
4 slices brioche bread, blitzed into chunky breadcrumbs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
  • Heat a large sauté pan until medium hot, add the olive oil and onion and sweat for 5 minutes until just softened then add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the canned tomatoes and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and cook for 10 minutes until just thickened.
  • Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper then remove from the heat.
  • Meanwhile, place the salmon into a bowl and crush lightly with the back of a fork until well mixed then add the chopped tarragon, sea salt and black pepper.
  • Layer a third of the tomato sauce into a medium ovenproof dish then top with half the butter beans, half the salmon, then repeat with another third of tomato sauce, then remaining beans, salmon and last of the tomato sauce.
  • Top with the brioche breadcrumbs and place in the oven for 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.
  • Serve with a crisp green salad.

It was really easy to make and very tasty and filling.  So handy to have recipes you can put together from your larder that will feed a crowd, I'm sure my boys would have scoffed the lot!

Remember to check out the Healthy Eating Plans and the other recipes on the Canned Food UK website.

Amanda Hamilton, nutritionist, comments: “These plans have been created to help show people that eating healthily isn’t as hard or expensive as you think – it’s all about planning ahead. Good nutrition can seem overly complex at times so I’m happy to get behind a campaign that makes simple recipes suggestions that are genuinely accessible to the vast majority – they taste great too!”

Jason Hegarty, Chairman for Canned Food UK, comments: “We know that canned food plays an important role in cooking in the majority of UK households, and that is why Canned Food Week is so important to us. During the canning process, nutrients are locked in, so canned food really does present a healthy option. By producing these plans with Amanda Hamilton, we hope to show that using canned food is a convenient and affordable way to eat healthily.”

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