Thursday, 31 March 2011

Beetroot and Quinoa Burgers

These Beetroot and Quinoa burgers were good. Ticked the three boxes for me: Looks, texture and flavour.  The taste of these burgers reminded me somewhat of onion rings, but enhanced further with earthy beetroot and the surprise crisp pop of quinoa bursting in your mouth.

The last time I cooked Quinoa for D he disliked it, this time he had a completely different attitude.  He actually praised this deep maroon burger and declared it Delicious - high praise indeed.


Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Celeriac and Coriander Soup with a dash of lime

So here is a bonus recipe for the day: Celeriac and coriander soup.

I had some celeriac left over from the Celeriac and Brown rice Gratin I made earlier. Again, not one to waste I made a soup . I liked the soup, so did D saying it was 'rich, creamy and flavourful', but he did have a little criticism. As much as he likes citrus and sharp flavours, he thought I was a little too generous with the lime juice towards the end. I also added coriander to the soup, only because I had some in the fridge but if your not keen on coriander, you could easily substitute this with parsley or omit it all together.
Celeriac and Coriander Soup with a dash of lime
Serves 4
Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium celeriac, peeled and roughly chopped
1 ½ pints vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lime
1 inch knob of ginger, grated
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 red chilli, chopped
Small bunch of fresh coriander, leaves and stalks separated
Optional: 50g creamed coconut
Salt to taste
Method
Heat the oil and cook the celeriac gently in a saucepan for 10 minutes, without colouring. Add the stock, ginger, thyme, chilli, coriander stems and half of the juice from the lime. Bring to the boil and simmer covered for 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and add the creamed coconut.
Cool a little, then puree in a liquidiser until smooth. Taste for seasoning. Reheat gently, stir in the remaining lime juice to taste and the coriander leaves and serve. Adapted from Covent Garden Soups.

Celeriac and Brown Rice Gratin

When I picked up a celeriac, also known as Celery root from the supermarket, I had intentions of making Celeriac and Horseradish burgers, but on having made the Harissa Bean burgers recently, I changed my mind to something a little more homely. Another reason for making this is to use up store cupboard ingredients, in this case 'brown rice'.

I've made this 'Brown rice gratin' before with homegrown baby sweet lightning pumpkins.  Here it is made with celeriac and carrots.  Although not shown here, the gratin was covered generously in cheese sauce, but I don't think its necessary as it also good without. 

Oh just a word of caution, go easy on the seasoning, I found that after I had seasoned the brown rice, seasoned the roast vegetables, and seasoned the cheese sauce and it was all a little too salty for me, but other other that it was good.
Celeriac and Brown Rice Gratin
Serves 4
Ingredients
For the rice
210g brown Basmati rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 pint vegetable stock
For the vegetables
1 medium celeriac, peeled and cubed
200g carrots, peeled and sliced
2 medium red onions, peeled and quartered
1 heaped teaspoon dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
For the cheese sauce
1 pint milk
40 g plain flour
40 g butter
1 teaspoon cayenne
75g Cheddar, grated
Salt and black pepper
Method
Preheat the oven to gas mark 8.
Place the vegetables and the red onion,garlic and herbs,season with salt and pepper. Toss them in olive oil. Evenly arrange them on the baking tray, then place this on the highest shelf of the oven to roast for about 30 minutes, or until they are nicely brown at the edges. As soon as they are ready, take them out and reduce the oven temperature to gas mark 6.
For the rice
Begin by warming the frying pan over a medium heat, then add the oil and the onions and let them cook for 3-4 minutes. Next stir in the rice and turn the grains over in the pan so they become lightly coated with oil. Then add the boiling stock, along with the salt, stir once only, then cover with the lid, turn the heat to the very lowest setting and cook for 40-45 minutes. Please don't remove the lid and don't stir the rice during cooking.
Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce by placing the milk, flour, butter and a pinch of the cayenne pepper into a medium-sized saucepan, then whisk it all together over a gentle heat until you have a smooth, glossy sauce. Let it cook on the lowest heat for 5 minutes, and after that add half the cheeses. Whisk again and allow them to melt into it, then season the sauce with salt and, black pepper. When the vegetables and rice are cooked, arrange the rice in the ovenproof dish, then the vegetables on top of that, followed by the sauce, pouring it over and around the vegetables as evenly as possible.
Finally, scatter over the remaining cheeses with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper, then return the dish to the oven and give it about 20 minutes or until the sauce is browned and bubbling. Adapted from Delia's Vegetarian Collection.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Sri Lankan Beetroot Curry

Many years ago, I remember watching an episode of Sophie Grigson’s series ‘Feast for a Fiver’.   In this episode she was in Kent, reputed to be the Garden of England and her hosts were an interracial couple. Kumar was from Sri Lanka and his wife, an English woman called Harriet.   Kumar cooks up a Spicy Sri Lankan meal which included La Daube Dizef  (a spicy egg dish), Cucumber Sambal and Beetroot Curry.  I vaguely recall thinking 'err how odd to have beetroot in curry'.  A few years later, I saw the cookbook of the same name in a second hand bookstore and picked it up for no other reason than it had a number of appealing recipes on a budget.

So whilst flicking through the cookbook this weekend, I was reacquainted with Mr Kumars Beetroot Curry and having exhausted all the other beetroot recipes, including Beetroot koftas, beetroot pakoras and Chocolate and beetroot waffles, this is what I chose to make.

If you like beetroot you will like this 'Beetroot curry'; and if not, well this recipe won’t convert you, but you’ll find it an interesting change from the pickled variety.
Sir Lankan cuisine is so similar to South Asian cuisine in its spices, but differs in its use of coconut milk which is only used in some parts of India, namely Kerala and Tamil Nadu.  As soon as the coconut milk is added to the cooked beetroot it is instantly transformed from a deep velvet red to a fluffy marshmallow pink.  The coconut milk compliments the earthy sweet flavour of the beetroot making this an interesting culinary experience especially for those unsure what to expect. Whats also lovely about this recipe, is that the beetroot retains its crunch.

I have had to adapt the recipe a little, as I don’t have Pandanus leaf or curry leaves in my home, so I substituted these with dried fenugreek leaves also known as methi. I thought it would be fine as the recipe included fenugreek seeds.
UPDATED: December 2011 - Torwen made his variation of this recipe, please check it out here.
Sri Lankan Beetroot Curry
Serves 4
Ingredients
400g beetroot
2 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil
2 onions, finely sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
A pinch of fenugreek seeds
¼ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
3 red chillies, sliced
Salt to taste
400g raw beetroot
2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves
400ml coconut milk
Method
Peel the beetroot and slice them and slice them into strips of about ½ inch wide. In a wide pan, fry the onions in oil for about 5 minutes, then add in the spices, green chillies and salt. When mustard seeds start to jump, add the beetroot and dried fenugreek and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat until the beetroot begins to feel tender.
Stir in the coconut milk and simmer gently for 5 minutes or so.
Serve with plain Basmati rice. Adapted from Sophie Grigsons Feasts for a Fiver.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Kale and Potato Tortilla wraps

aka the 'Winter wrap'.

You know for winter greens, this was a very tasty tortilla wrap and a well deserved snack after a hard days graft in the garden.

I've been hankering for a reason to make Post Punk Kitchens (PPK) 'Potato and Kale enchiladas' which I found truly exceptional on its own, but even more delicious when drenched in 'Roasted Chile sauce'. However, when I saw this recipe for 'Winter Wraps' in Thomasina Miers cookbook 'Mexican Food Made Easy', I was more than happy to change my mind as I really like Thomasina Miers approach to cooking. The texture of the filling, namely the curly kale was substantial with real bite, what I'd describe as chewy 'green meat'. The main difference with this version was its flavour. PPKs Potato and kale enchiladas have warming spices like cumin, whereas this one has a citric undertones. Still very good, just different. The recipe recommends using a combination of winter greens, curly kale, spinach and chard. For my recipe, I just used curly kale and spinach. Delightful.
 
Kale and Potato Tortilla wraps
Serves 4 - 6 people
Ingredients
450g- 500g winter greens and curly kale, washed and sliced
400g potatoes, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely sliced
2 red chilies, sliced
2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Optional 200ml creme fraiche
Salt and pepper to taste
Method
Put a large pan of water on to boil and season with salt. When it is boiling, add the greens and blanch for 5 minutes or so until the leaves have softened. Remove the leaves with a slotted spoon and now add the potatoes to the boiling water. Cook the potatoes until they are soft. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a wide frying pan and cook the shallot, garlic and chilli over a medium heat until they have softened. Add the greens and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Then stir in the potatoes, vinegar and season to taste and cook for a few minutes. Optional: If using creme fraiche, add to the pan and bring up to a simmer and cook gently for a few minutes so that the cream can reduce.
 
Fill your tortilla wraps generously with the filling, then roll and put in a moderately hot oven for about five minutes to heat up. Slice in half and serve immediately. These are okay to eat cold too, but I preferred them warm. Adapted from Thomasina Miers Mexican Food Made Easy.

Potato Bed

With so much change happening in our lives at the moment, we have decided to keep our growing antics in the garden to a bare minimum. We have just planted some early potatoes in our tiny garden plot. In the plot border, you can see chives growing and some Swiss chard from last year that has somehow survived the snow. I've also transferred my sage to the plot as it did not seem happy contained in a pot.
Normally I put some colourful flowers compliments of my late neighbour, but I've decided to put the strawberries in them. Hopefully this way, those pesky slugs will keeps away.
In the border, where I've planted some brambles the daffys have come up.
Last year I had transplanted some wild garlic in my garden near the water feature aka bird bath, the dampest spot in the garden. Surprisingly the wild garlic has taken root, look here next to the wild nettle. This will give us perhaps serve as a garnishing, rather than a meal. So I'll still definitely be foraging for wild garlic in the coming weeks, and hopefully other free edible wild weeds.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Malaysian Black Pepper Tofu

A few months ago, my neighbours who happen to be Malaysian Muslims knocked on our door to give us a couple of bowls of celebratory dishes they had made for Eid. Both dishes contained halal meat. I was going to accept them just out of sheer politeness, but I knew in my heart she would ask how we found them and I would not be able to lie, and you know how one little white lie can grow. So I was upfront and honest and told her it was very kind of her, but I could not accept either dishes as we were both primarily vegetarian. She was understanding and nodded politely. During our polite conversation about food in general, I did tell her that the only Indonesian and Malay cuisine I had ever tried was Nasi Goreng.

Anyway, speaking to her again this weekend got me thinking about Malay cuisine. I thought it was time for me to try something different. A long while ago, I remembered seeing a recipe for 'Malaysian Black Pepper Crab' and thinking to myself, I could substitute the mud crabs for 'vegetarian prawns' (made from seaweed extract, gluten wheat, salt and spices). But today I decided on firm tofu. The original recipe has a few ingredients I don’t have to hand such as salted soy beans. Ordinarily I’d be happy to pick up ingredient but I am trying my utmost to use what I have at home, so I omitted this from the recipe as well dried prawns. My Malaysian neighbour would so not approve of this omission, as dried prawns are an essential seasoning ingredient in most Malay dishes. I also reduced the chillies, and that's unusual for me, but even with my high chilli tolerance levels I don’t think I could handle 10 – 12 red birds eyes chilli. No way. Finally, I substituted the fresh curry leaves with a handful of fresh coriander leaves. I know what your thinking - with all these changes to the recipe its hardly Malaysian - well let's just say its Malaysian cuisine inspired.

This 'Black Pepper Tofu' dish was really delicious: rich and intense in flavour. I don't know what it was about it, but the combination of red chilli and black pepper was almost addictive. The tofu tastes gorgeous too, with the crisp outer skin and soft inside. Oh I wish I had taken a photograph of the shallots and red chillies whilst they were being sauteed, as the ingredients in the pan were very different in colour up until the soy sauce, oyster sauce and black pepper went in, instantly turning the entire contents in the pan ink black

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Leek and feta pastry

Its still March. I could offer this to you as another Welsh offering, with the green and white leeks and the first of my glorious home grown daffodils, but truth is its just coincidence that they are both presented here.

The puff pastry is crisp and flaky, the leeks are almost caramelised, silky smooth. The saltiness of the feta, mustard and chervil flavours come through too. If you choose to make this, please make sure you wash the leeks well thoroughly. Leeks are notorious for hiding soil in between its layers and the last thing you want to do is chew on bit of grit spoiling your enjoyment of this rather simple 'Leek and feta pastry'.
If you wish, you can easily make these into individual parcels, but for convenience and laziness I made one large pastry that could easily be sliced.

I think the flavours in this pastry are just too rich to eat on its own, so I would recommend serving it alongside some peppery greens; or a couscous salad.
Leek and feta parcels
Serves 4 – 6
Ingredients
375g Ready rolled puff pastry
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 leeks, halved, then sliced length ways
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons mustard from a jar
½ teaspoon dried chervil (or marjoram)
200g feta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Method
Thoroughly wash the leeks to remove grit.
Heat oil in a wide pan and add the leeks and sauté until tender about 8 – 10 minutes, then add in the garlic and herb and sauté for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the mustard, crumble in the feta cheese and combine. Season to taste.
Preheat oven to gas mark 6.
Oil a large baking tray, then roll out the puff pastry directly on the baking tray. On half of the pastry, spread the feta-leek filling evenly. Then fold over the puff pastry sheet and pinch the ends to seal.
Optional: Sprinkle a little dried chervil to the top of the pastry.
Bake in over for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden and crisps.
Slice and serve immediately.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Chocolate and Lime Halva

There are only a handful of South Asian sweets that I like: Almond Burfi, Gulab Janum and Ras Malai being the main three, but I also have a fondness for Suji ka halva perhaps because it reminds me of my childhood.

Suji (Sooji) ka Halva (Halwa) also known as Rava Kesari is a South Asian (Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi) Semolina sweet pudding. It is often enjoyed for breakfast with puris, a light deep fried pastry or served as a dessert at ceremonies.

Traditionally halvas are not overly sweet. Neither are they much to look at: a plain unappealing sandy grain colour as well as texture, which makes them a bit of an acquired taste. But this is what is great about them. Halvas can be versatile like a plain cake base, polenta, couscous, even quinoa where you add other flavours to enhance its appeal. For special occasions, my mother would often add dried fruits to the mix: green raisins, cherries, chopped pineapple and mango pieces, as well as chocolate chips, chopped nuts, namely almonds, pistachios and cashews. For extra special occasions she’d add flavoured essence and coat them with edible silver leaf. My mother continues to make a version with vegetables, namely Gajjar (carrot) halva.



Monday, 21 March 2011

Harissa Bean Burger

This 'Harissa Bean Burger' is the kind of burger you eat in your own company, or in the company of good friends and most trusted of family members, as you and they are not going to look pretty after biting into these.
Although, nice and crispy on the outside, this was one messy mushy beany burger. As I chomped on my burger bun, the spicy beany filling was squirting out from all directions. Yes, you need a big plate or a rather large napkin, otherwise you will have a stained top for the rest of the day. I served these with a little dollop of homemade yellow chilli jam.
I have made harissa in the past, but for this recipe I used a tube of harissa that's been in my fridge for goodness knows how long. I don’t know if its lost its spice heat or what, but it was not particularly strong in flavour.

Priya of Now Serving is hosting the Fast Food Not Fat Food Event this month. Priya gently promped me to submit this healthy looking bean burger to the event. The event is about presenting a healthier version of our favourite fast foods. I had not thought of it, but actually this bean burger is healthy. Not just because its full of beans that are low in fat and high in fibre. But also because they are packed with nutrients in the form of minerals, protein and vitamins. Also in its favour, this bean burger is shallow fried.
Harissa Bean Burgers
Makes 10 - 14
Ingredients
110g black-eyed beans
110g green or brown lentils
2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for shallow frying
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 red pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 – 3 tablespoon harissa paste
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, minced
2 tablespoons plain flour
salt and freshly milled black pepper
Method
Soak the black-eyed beans overnight in cold water. The other lentils won't need soaking.
To make the burgers
Once the soaking is done, drain the black-eyed beans. In a medium-sized saucepan, add the drained beans and the lentils, then pour in 1 pint (570 ml) water, then bring everything up to a gentle simmer and let them cook for about 40-45 minutes, or until the beans are completely soft. Drain and mash them.
In a large frying pan, add 2 tablespoon of olive oil, then heat it over a medium heat and add the onion, carrot, pepper, chilli and garlic. Sauté them all together for about 6 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.
After that mix all the vegetables into the mashed bean and lentil mixture, add the harissa paste, coriander and season to taste. Then dampen your hands and form the mixture into 10 - 14 round cakes. Then place them on a lightly oiled tray, cover with clingfilm and keep them in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before cooking.
When you're ready to serve the bean burgers, coat them lightly with flour, then heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium and fry the bean burgers for 3 minutes on each side until they are crisp and golden, adding more oil to the pan if necessary.
Drain them on kitchen paper and serve immediately. Recipe adapted from Delia Smith Vegetarian Collection.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Savoury flavours for crumpets

Oh my goodness, who would have thought that my home made crumpets would have got so many of you wonderful people excited, as well as evoke childhood memories. I know those of you who love your crumpets simply with butter may raise your eyebrows; perhaps the crumpet purists amongst you may even shake your heads and wag your finger at me with disapproval, but I did not want to limit myself to just butter, jam and honey. I wanted to make the most of my homemade crumpets, not just with sweet toppings but also savoury ones - not Marmite or cheddar cheese, but one with spiced vegetables. I started thinking about about Moroccan pancakes: known as Baghrir. Baghrir look very similar to Scottish crumpets which are like pancakes, but with a honeycomb texture - lot of holes to absorb flavours. The Scottish crumpet like the Moroccan Baghrir can be described more like crepes. Both these are traditionally eaten for breakfast with sweet toppings. Then I remembered reading about Derbyshire Oatcakes and Staffordshire Oatcakes. Derbyshire and Staffordshire oatcakes look like large flat pancake crumpets. Unlike the Scottish crumpet, the Derbyshire and Staffordshire oatcakes are eaten with egg, sausages and bacon or melted cheese. This further reminded me of Injera - a tangy Ethiopian flatbread traditionally made from Teff. I've eaten Injera twice, at an Ethiopian restaurant in San Fransisco and only ever made it from scratch once. I made the entire Ethiopian menu from Celia Brooks Brown World Vegetarian Classics, as well as the accompanying savoury tangy flatbread Injera, which took days. Anyway, it occurred to me with the crumpets being quite plain, I am sure like the Injera, Derbyshire and Staffordshire oatcakes it would lend itself as an excellent base for savoury toppings; and it sure did. I topped my crumpets with Houriya and a mint-feta mash. These are Lebanese dips. I wanted a little crunch so instead of cooking the carrots and pureeing them in a blender, I just grated them. I wanted to share these, but I do have many other savoury topping ideas going through my head.
For the crumpets

Follow recipe here

For the Raw Houriya (Carrot Dip)

200g carrots, grated

1 teaspoon cumin, freshly ground

2 teaspoon Harissa paste

1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon runny honey

4 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Method

Simply combine all the ingredients together. Set aside for an hour or so for the flavours to mingle.

For the Mint- Feta Mash

75g feta cheese

300g Greek Yogurt

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 fat garlic clove, crushed

3 tablespoons mint, minced

Method

Simply mash all the of the ingredients together. It should be quite lumpy. Both recipes are adapted from Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons by Diana Henry

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Homemade crumpets

I've made my first batch of crumpets ever and I was most pleased with the results. I'm finding it hard to describe the Crumpet. Its a doughy, round and yeasty pancake; or soft spongy cake. Crumpets are traditionally cooked on a flat top griddle. The creamy batter is gently ladled into ring moulds, and whilst being slowly cooked the crumpets develop its distinct porous texture. For me watching these tiny bubbles appear and burst was quite amazing to witness. My mother has a fondness for crumpets. When I was a child, I remember her always bringing some home with her from her supermarket shop. I never quite understood her liking for them, as I found them bland, stodgy, bouncy and spongy. My mother would simply toast them under the griddle, spread them with a little butter and enjoy. I think I may have appreciated them more had they been pasted with something a little more exciting than just butter. Perhaps some berry jam, peanut butter, golden syrup, honey, even chocolate. Just imagine that melted chocolate being sucked up into those yeasty nooks and crannies. Well, I may not have had an appreciation for the crumpet then, but now I do. Forget about butter, chocolate and jam though. I enjoyed some this morning with Melon Chilli Jelly - how posh am I?! Well I have to start making a dent in all those homemade preserves, jams and jellies. Oh I don't want to mislead you, these crumpets do take a little while to make. First the batter, which you will have to rest for a few hours or so, and then the making/cooking of them is a slow, but rather calming process. I was in the kitchen a good hour, but I had nowhere to rush. Homemade Crumpets Makes 12 Ingredients 450g plain white flour 350ml warm milk 350ml warm water 5g powdered dried yeast 10g salt 1 tsp baking powder A little sunflower or vegetable oil Method In a bowl, whisk the flour, milk, water and yeast into a rather runny batter the consistency of single cream. Cover with cling-film and leave for an hour until really bubbly (or three to four hours, if need be). Heat a heavy-based frying pan or flat griddle over a medium-high heat. Whisk the salt and baking powder into the batter. Lightly grease the crumpet rings and pan. Put one ring in the pan, fill to just below the top – the batter should stay in the ring and lots of holes should appear on the surface after a minute or two. (According to Hugh, if it dribbles out underneath, it is too thin, so whisk a little more flour into your batter mix. If lots of holes don't form, it's too thick, so whisk in some water.) Assuming your test crumpet is OK, after five minutes or so, when the surface is just set, flip it over, ring and all. (If the cooked base seems too dark, turn down the heat.) Cook for two to three minutes, until golden on the other side. Repeat with the remaining batter in batches. Butter and eat at once, or cool on a wire rack for toasting later. Original recipe from the Guardian. For a vegan version of crumpets, please check out Emma's adaptation on her blog Vegan Food for the Hungry Student.

Drive to Inveraray




Rest and Be Thankful at Argyll Forest Park
Sign outside Loch Fyne Cafe and Farm shop. We continue to drive towards the shores of Loch Fyne.
We've been to Inveraray a few times with family and Friends; and every time we got there, it seems to rain and rain it did. One of the places, we wanted to visit was Inveraray Castle, but it was still closed for the Winter Season.
We were even thinking about visiting Inveraray Jail, but sadly the admittance fees deterred us.
This is Inveraray High Street. Inveraray Parish Church in the background.
We picked up a couple of pastries from this Baker before heading back home, rather too quickly for my liking.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Little Owl in my tiny garden

Yesterday morning, I hear D calling out to me and telling me to look out of our flat window at our wind battered garden fence. I couldn't quite see what he was pointing out at, squinting my eyes and trying to follow his directions and then I suddenly my eyes did - Wow - it was one big bird, about 8 inches tall. First we assumed it was the Sparrow Hawk as we've had them in the garden before, then on closer look with our binoculars we saw that it was actually an Owl. Yes an Owl. Whilst I was admiring its feathers, getting annoyed that a passing commuter train would come by and startle it, but even when a train did pass by, the owl sat patiently. D ran to fetch one of our bird watching books. From the feathering, colours and size we confidently identified it as a Little Owl. Later in the evening, D rang one of his avid bird watching friends to boast about the Little Owl in our garden on the edge of Glasgow. His mate, would not believe him saying 'you sure it wasn't a Little eared owl?!' No Sir, we are positive it was a Little Owl. We regret not taking a photograph of the Little Owl, but we were both just too excited and humbled that our garden continues to be an attractive location for birds passing by. The image is taken from a 1960s copy of the Readers Digest Book of British Birds.
We polished of the last this 'Lemon Blueberry Polenta cake'. Last week, whilst catching up with my blog reads, I was tempted by two good looking Polenta cakes. The first was the Kitchen Maids Berry Polenta cake. Kitchen Maid wrote that the polenta in the cake gave the 'cake a fantastically gritty texture'. I liked the sound of that, plus I had quick cooking polenta and frozen berries in the freezer to use up. Then I visited Cake in the Community and saw this zingy Lemon polenta cake. Chocolategirl64 wrote 'if you try to imagine what lemon curd would taste like in cake form, this would be it'. Lemon is a flavour my husband loves, so I was I was torn between the two recipes. So I sort of combined the recipes: Lemon from one and frozen (blue) berries from the other.
Its not the most well presented cake, but this Lemon Blueberry polenta cake had a splendid gritty texture from the polenta and almonds, sweetness and flavour from the zingy lemon and zappy blueberries. It was delicious.
Lemon Blueberry Polenta cake
Serves 6 - 8
Ingredients
200g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
100g quick cook polenta
1½ teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs
Zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
100g frozen blueberries
For the lemon syrup
Juice of 2 lemons
125g icing sugar
Method
Preheat your oven to Gas 4. Line and grease the base and sides of a 9in/23cm spring form cake tin.
Blend the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
In another bowls, mix together the flour, almonds, baking powder and polenta.
Gently stir in the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, along with one egg and mix well
repeat this for reaming eggs. Stir in the lemon zest and blueberries and gently spoon into the baking tin.
Bake for about 45 minutes or under the skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
For the lemon syrup
Gently heat both the lemon juice and icing sugar until dissolved.
Pierce the top of your cake with a cake tester or BBQ skewer, then evenly drizzle on the syrup.
Leave to cool before taking out of the tin and serving.