Sunday, 14 April 2013

Retro baking - Sponge Drops recipe

Back in time for this recipe...way back to the future.

My favourite shop bought cake of all time (and they are few) is a 'sponge drop'. When I was a teen, a mere handful of years ago, my mother used to send me off to the local bakery for the seeking out of freshly made, would be called artisan now, meat and potato/steak pies, bread and cakes baked goods. Duly I would set off with list and monies and return with produce and for my own pleasure a 'sponge drop'.

It would be light and fluffy and filled with fresh cream, jam and dusted with icing sugar...though the best sponge drops had a crusty sugar top to them. I'd get home, devour an a steak pie artisan home baked item of choice and tuck into a fresh yummy sponge drop with a cuppa. Have never ever made them until very recently, as the thought one sprung to mind when driving past the said bakery...now gone and replaced with a sunbed shop, of all things!

I am very grateful to Nonna's Kitchen for helping me make sponge drops from her recipe.
In the words of Cher "if I could turn back time..."

..."I'd have another sponge drop"...me.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

'Dish of the month' April - Nigel Slaters parfait of orange and lemon

Its not exactly cold dessert weather I know, but my 'Dish of the Month' this month is born form two dishes and two recipes from 'The Kitchen Diaries II' by Nigel Slater.

Firstly, we had half a hot cross bun loaf left over from Easter, so following Kitchen Delights example last month I made a hot cross bread and butter pudding from The March chapter of 'The Kitchen Diaries II'. It was quite good actually, and a particular favourite with chief taster who polished it off with custard.

Anyway, making that lovely spicy pudding left me with 3 egg whites, and with a pot of double cream in the fridge, a jar of lemon curd in the cupboard and oranges in the fruit bowl, I made this 'Heavenly parfait of orange and lemon' (p 162) again from 'The Kitchen Diaries II'. With one 'small' exception! In Nigel's recipe his picture of this parfait looked a bit *ahem* 'pale' so I thought I'd liven mine up a bit, and I added some apricot gel food colouring to my homemade meringues. I 'might' have made it a bit too lively...but it tastes fab so what the heck!

This parfait is very easy to make, I just made meringues with the whisked egg whites and caster sugar and once these were baked and cooled, I folded them into the whipped cream and other citrus goodies from Nigel's recipe. Because my meringues were homemade, they were nice and mallowy in the centre and crunchy on the outside, this added to the overall loveliness of the finished parfait.

If you'd like to join us in 'Dish of the Month' you'd be very welcome, this is how to get involved...
  • Make a 'Dish of the Month' from ANY recipe by Nigel Slater
  • Link back to this blog or to 'Farmersgirl Kitchen' 
  • Use the Dish of the Month logo (above) in your post
  • If you use twitter, tweet your post with @Heavenona_Plate OR @serialcrafter and #DishoftheMonth hashtag and we will re-tweet it to our followers. 
Rules:
  • If you own a copy of The Kitchen Diaries II please do not publish the recipes on your blog without permission, they are copyright.
  • If you are using any Nigel Slater recipes from the BBC Food website, please link to the recipe on BBC Food rather than publishing the recipe.  Likewise with any of Nigel's recipes on the Guardian website.
  • Only one entry per blog please.
  • Recipes must be added to the linky by the 28th of each month.
And remember to add your Dish of the Month to the linky below this post:

I'm also going to add this post to 'Credit Crunch Munch' as these recipes were born from using leftovers from Easter; frugal and tasty, its a win win all round. Credit Crunch Munch is run by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla at Fab food for All

This challenge is a great way to see how other bloggers get creative and save money with their cooking, so do look out for the round up of recipes below.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A visit to Dewlay - Lancashire cheese makers

Dewlay shop and museum at Garstang in Lancashire.
Last Monday we had a great morning out at Dewlay Cheese makers in Lancashire, and here lies a bit of a tale. After submitting a photograph to the Visit Lancashire facebook page for a 'say cheese for Lancashire day' my photograph was picked out by Jodie Prenger as the winning snap and my prize was £100 to spend in the Dewlay shop in Garstang. If I tell you this was one of the very few things I have ever won I am not kidding readers, I never win a sausage. I was so delighted to win anything at all, but really pleased with this particular food related prize, and the opportunity to go up to Garstang, to that great rural Lancashire cheese triangle (I made that up, its not really a 'cheese triangle' but there are several Lancashire cheese makers in that area) and to learn more about Dewlay and how they make Lancashire cheeses.

The first thing that strikes you when you visit Dewlay, after the huge wind turbine outside, is the smell of fresh cheese being made. We had a tour of the viewing gallery, and on the day we visited they were making crumbly Lancashire, Red Leicester and Garstang blue cheeses. The gallery overlooks the cheese production area and Conor Daunt from Dewlay gave us a verbal account of how the cheeses are made, the history to the family business, the awards won by Dewlay and how they are moving forward in terms of sustainable energy, and even recycling the water they use. This might be an old Lancashire traditional cheese product (the starter culture used began over 40 years ago) but the technology is current.
Still winning awards for cheese after a number of years, and proud of it too.
Just some of the interesting facts I learned last week...I'm a cheese expert now...ask me anything about Lancashire cheese...anything!
  • The milk comes from cows nearby (5miles radius) and the local land is renowned for being good grazing land for cattle, the soil (damp), the climate (damp), the grass (green and damp), did I mention damp there? (at least there are some benefits to the Lancashire climate after all!) all help make for contented grazing cattle and good milk production too.
  • Dewlay supply cheese to Lancashire schools, if your kids are at school in Lancashire they are likely to be eating this cheese made from local milk etc.
  • Dewlay has PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) standard for their cheese. This means its regional, local and made in a traditional way. 
  • This is third generation of Dewlay cheese makers, the business was started by the current brothers grandfather George Kenyon in 1957. It *might* just a bit older than me but "age is not important unless you are a cheese".
  • Lancashire cheese is a 2 day curd cheese recipe and its made this way for years. The curds are cut by machine and turned by hand, bruised curds does not maketh good Lancashire cheese!
  • Which Lancashire cheese you prefer depends on taste, but some are more mature and therefore more creamy, younger cheeses more crumbly and stronger flavour. 
  • Dewlay cheese is sold in supermarkets nationwide, lots of local Lancashire markets, a Kosher range is made under strict standards, the cheeses are suitable for coeliacs and vegetarians and the cheese is shipped worldwide.