The Dunkley Wedding 14th September 2019

My nephew, Louis and his fiancee Elisha had a beautiful wedding ceremony held in my sisters garden, on a gorgeous sunny late summers day. It was a real family affair with lots of the family helping to make it an unforgettable event.

Elisha and Louis are very creative and talented young people. Although they had a limited budget and have two young and energetic children, they made lots of the stylish wedding props such as the floral displays, the home made bar, the doughnut wall and the Prosecco bar plus lots of co-ordinated signage.

My contribution was helping with the menus and food preparation and display. Part of my contribution was to cook 160 scones. I made 80 plain ones (some with sultanas) and 80 cheese scones.

The plain scones are a Delia Smith recipe and I made them in batches and froze them. On the day they were served with whipped cream and strawberry jam. They froze well and I am assured they tasted great. I didn’t eat them myself as they all contained gluten. Scones are one of those things that I just have to admit don’t have a successful gluten free recipe. Instead I made some gluten free brownies for me!

Plain Scones

225 g self raising flour

40 g butter – cut into cubes

1.5 tablespoons caster sugar

Pinch salt

150 ml milk

Pre Heat the oven to 220 c – grease a baking sheet

Sift the flour into a bowl and rub the butter int the flour with your fingertips. Stir in the sugar and salt.

Use a large fork to add the milk (and a few sultanas if you like) and mix to a soft dough.

Quickly roll out thickly and cut out about 7 or 8 scones.

Place the scones on the baking sheet and dust with a little extra flour.

Cook for about 12 mins. Cool on a wire rack. Split and add butter or cream (clotted or whipped) and jam.

Wholewheat Cheese Crusted Scones

The cheese scones were also a Delia Smith recipe and were served with butter. They would have been better if they were warmed up but this was not possible, but again the feedback was very positive so I thought I would share the recipe.

75 g wholewheat flour

75g self raising flour

1 to baking powder

1/2 tsp mustard powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 good pinches of cayenne pepper

25g butter

75g strong cheddar – grated

1 large egg

2-3 tablespoons milk

Pre- heat oven to 220 c – grease a baking sheet

Put both lots of flour into a mixing bowl with the baking powder, salt, cayenne and mustard powder. Rub in the butter and then add almost all of the cheese.

In a small bowl beat the egg with the milk and add this to the dry ingredients to make a soft dough.

Roll out the dough thickly to make about 7-8 scones. Brush the tops with milk, sprinkle some grated cheese on the tops. Finally add a small dusting of cayenne pepper. Bake on a high shelf for 12-15 mins. Eat them as warm as you like with lots of butter.

Autumn and Winter Comfort Food

It’s that time of year again, when the nights draw in earlier and I start to crave a hearty dinner sitting in front of the fire. We started off this season with the Jamie Oliver Allotment Cottage Pie, featured in his Meat Free series which is currently running on the TV.

It uses mostly root vegetables, which are cheap and plentiful and it takes a while to prepare but is worth it. It makes a HUGE portion so good if you have a large family to feed, but I found that it needed some gravy after the second day. Mark didn’t like the swede so I would probably use butternut squash instead next time.

I made mine in a large shallow Le Creuset dish, which I use for everything! The dish itself was really expensive but it is really worth the money and will last you forever. It’s just the right size and depth for this recipe.

The second Jamie Oliver Meat Free recipe we have tried is the Scruffy Aubergine Lasagne. I used the last 2 aubergines from the greenhouse and divided the dish into 2, one side GF pasta and 1 side normal pasta. The method again takes a while and doesn’t use lots of oil, so it makes for a healthy meal. The nuts on the top made an unusual finish and gave another texture to the dish.

I think that the dish needed a bit more cheese in it, so next time I make it I will add more Parmesan.

What shall I do with all my tomatoes?

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Well, we’ve had a bumper crop of tomatoes. I tried a new variety called ….. .They have done really well and taste good. At the moment we are managing to eat the red ones daily.  Each day there are more. I love going into the greenhouse each morning to see how they are doing. I am still feeding them every week with a liquid seaweed feed diluted with water. I haven’t had any bugs and I think that is because I companion plant the tomatoes with marigolds and basil. Apparently the smell of both deters the white fly. It works for me so I do it every year now.

One of my favourite ways of using the tomatoes is by making a tomato salad.

Ingredients

Ripe tomatoes

Basil Leaves

Red Onion

French dressing

Salt and Pepper

Simply slice the tomatoes onto a large plate in a single layer. Tear some fresh basil leaves over the top, slice some red onions and arrange over the tomatoes. Just before serving, season with salt and pepper and drizzle some home made French dressing over the top. Delicious!

French Dressing

2 tablespoons virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 garlic clove – smashed

Half a teaspoon of mustard powder

Salt and Pepper

Shake all the ingredients in a jar – that’s it!

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As for the rest, I try to be imaginative and think of recipes I can use them in, such as Aubergine Parmigiana, Pasta sauces, Ratatouile and Chilli, but after that I bung them in the freezer to use like I would use tinned tomatoes. I wouldn’t waste any of my hard work.

 

 

 

How to make a very good Sourdough Loaf

 

My son gave me some of his sourdough starter so I could have a go myself at making a sourdough loaf. I have tried before but it wasn’t brilliant. I can’t eat it myself as it’s made with gluten flour. My partner Mark loves it though.

I wanted to have the sourdough ready to eat on Sunday so the making process had to start on Friday.

The starter is kept in the fridge so I took it out on Friday morning, as per the instruction from son Marc. I divided it in two and threw one half away. I then fed the remainder with a cup of rye flour and some water. This was mixed together and then left on the worktop for a few hours.

In the afternoon I measured out 100g of the starter. I put the rest back in the fridge for the next loaf. I then added:

  • 300g water
  • 100g-stoneground flour
  • 400g white strong flour

 

I mixed all this together to make dough and then left the in bowl covered with a damp tea towel for 2 hours.

I then added:

10g fine sea salt and 15g cold water

The salty water was pushed into the dough with the fingers. This was left for 10 mins

After 10 mins it was time to fold and turn to get the traditional holes in the sourdough. The dough is pulled up and folded forward, and then the bowl is turned a quarter of a turn.

This is done a 3 further times with 30 minutes between each and a final 15 mins rest at the end.

After this the dough is shaped into a ball and wrapped it in a flour dredged tea towel over a colander and put in the fridge to rise overnight.

In the morning I pre warmed the oven to 220 degrees  for 30 mins.  I put in a Le Creuset casserole dish in the oven to heat up too.  Once it was hot, I also put in a roasting dish with boiling water to provide some steam.

I sprinkled some ground rice on the bottom of there casserole dish – you can use semolina – so that it didn’t stick. I slashed the top of the loaf, put the lid on and cooked it for an hour. After an hour, I took the lid off and cooked for a further 10 mins.

Let it cool as long as you can – that’s not long in our house!

 

 

 

Making Elderflower Champagne

Well, its just as well I picked all my elderflowers before the rain set in. I managed to get the Champagne bottled and its now sitting in the garage getting fizzy.

I made this last year for the first time and art was a great success. I doubled ups the recipe as we were having a family party. It went down well.

Heres the recipe – its a Women’s Institute recipe which I got from a google search. I used some of the last Spanish lemons which I had in the freezer.

Ingredients 

25-30 elderflower heads in full bloom

2kg white sugar

2 litres water

4 lemons – juice and zest

1-2 tablespoons of wine vinegar

Pinch of dried yeast

Method

Boil the water and put onto the sugar in a large bowl or bucket (sterilised)

Stir until the sugar dissolves and then make up to 6 litres with cold water.

Add the lemon juice and zest, the flowerhead and stir gently.

Cover and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days.

After a couple of days – check to see if it fermenting – if not add pinch of dried yeast.

Leave to ferment for a further 4 days.Strain the liquid through a muslin lined sieve.

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Pour into sterilised bottles – the ones with a glass and rubber seal.

Seal and leave to ferment for at leats a further 8 days before serving chilled. Make sure you doing fill to the top, to allow the gas to expand.

I found that it kept to August last year. It may of kept longer but it got shared and drunk!

The champagne is really fragrant and makes a lovely summer drink.

How to make Elderflower Cordial – no cooking required!

If like me you like a cold, refreshing and non alcoholic drink, you probably like elderflower cordial.

You can buy it in the supermarket but it is quite expensive. If, however, you can get your hands on some elderflower heads at this time of the year (in the UK) then prepare yourself for a real treat. Be quick as they aren’t around for long!

Ingredients

Elderflower heads

1.7 litres/3 pints boiling water

900g/21b caster sugar

50g/2oz citric acid – available from online stores or chemists

2 unwaxed lemons

2 unwaxed oranges

You need to collect about 30 elderflower heads. I make sure that these are not growing by the roadside, so they are not contaminated by car pollution. Just snip them off near the flower, with not too much stalk.

You may want to give them a quick rinse, to get off any little insects.

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Put 900g of caster sugar in a large bowl and pour in 3 pints (1.7litres) of boiling water. Stir and leave to cool.

Add the slices of lemons and oranges, the citric acid and finally the elderflower heads. Give it a stir and leave covered for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. You will be able to smell the elderflower fragrance almost immediately.

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After 24 hours, strain the whole lot through some muslin and transfer to sterilised bottles.

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Serve by diluting with water, sparkling water, or sparkling wine for a delicious cocktail.

I am going to pick some more to make some brilliant Elderflower Champagne and will give you the recipe soon. I made some last year, in June and we opened it at a family party we had in August. It was really fizzy and delicious.

 

Food we will be taking home from Spain – as it’s better or cheaper!

There are some foods we have been eating whilst here which are superior and/or cheaper than the UK. I am going to take a few items back which will travel ok. There are some more I would take but they proabably won’t travel very well, such as cheese, avocados, oranges, lemons.

We love the supermarkets here, as I have said before. We have been using mainly Carrefour as it’s closest but also Lidl and Mercadona. Some things are cheaper and some things are the same or a bit more expensive. However, the variety and choice of goods is far better here, in my opinion.

Olive Oil

The olive oil here is almost green – which tells you that it is good! I will be taking lots of this home.

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Tuna Fish

You can buy this in jars or tins, in oil or brine. We have been using the tuna in a jar with olive oil. The pieces of fish are lovely and chunky, not like the mashed up efforts sold in tins at home. This is actually bonito which is also very nice and is a bit cheaper than the tuna. I will probably take home both.

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Almonds

I am disappointed that whole almonds here are more expensive than in the UK. I thought that as they are grown here they would be cheaper but apparently not. It seems that Spain still import almonds from California! However, the roasted and salted ones from Lidl Spain are delicious and not available from Lidl UK.

 

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Chick Peas

Ready cooked chick peas are sold in jars here rather than tins.  The actual chick peas themselves are much plumper and tastier than the tinned variety available in the UK. You can sometimes but these in Lidl UK but usuallly only when there is a Spanish week.

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Olives

There is a HUGE choice in olives as you would imagine. Some of them are quite bitter but we have found some nice ones which come in very small tins, (which is good as they tend to go off if you open a large jar or tin) so I will be bringing back a few cans of these.

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Tomato Frito

This is a bit like passata but nicer. It comes in cartons and is good for sauces. Lidl do a good version.

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Corn Crackers

I do buy these in Lidl at home but I will be bringing some of these back. They are good for me as they are GF.

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Raisins

The black raisins are lovely and juicy and great for adding to the granola after cooking.

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Vinegars

i use a lot of wine vinegars in salad dressings but I also like to have other vinegars in my store cupboard for when I need them. I have bought red and white vinegars here,  which are cheap at approx 50p for a litre,so I will be taking some of those home. Sherry vinegar is ridiculously cheap too. I don’t use this a great deal but it’ll be there if I need it and it keeps for ages.

 

 

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Tapas Thursday’s

If you follow my Fidgety Lil Instagram account, you will have noticed that I have been doing a Tapas Thursday feature instead of a Curry Friday spot. It seemed the right thing to do as we are staying in Spain for so long.

I decided to cook 4 Tapas dishes each Thursday. It has mostly worked, except the day I made Paella and I just did that. Making 4 dishes between 2 of us has meant that there have been a LOT of leftovers, but the upside is, we don’t have to cook on a Friday!

I have spent a quite a bit of money on ingredients but, as its a bit of a hobby, and we are on an extended holiday then it’s guilt -free! Mark gets to eat the dishes (and photograph them) so he doesn’t complain either.

I have been lucky that there is nice crockery in the villa, to use in the pictures too. Some of it is very Spanish but there are some lovely classic plain white plates and bowls, which I have also used for some of the photos. There is a lovely black Paella dish which I used to cook and display the Chicken and Chorizo Paella.

It’s not all been successes, there have been a couple of things I wouldn’t cook again. For example, the almond chicken I made this week, is just not right. The sauce is made from almond, onion, garlic, stock and bread – I used GF bread. The consistency wasn’t sauce like so I added more stock and a bit of cream but we just didn’t like it very much.  Also, the Russian Salad, although very easy to make, wasn’t very exciting, so we won’t be having that again.

 

My three favourites are the Chorizo and Chicken Paella, Langoustines and Saffron Mayonnaise and Tuna and Mango Salsa. I also love the Patatas Bravas and would happily make those every week.

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I have taken the recipes I have used from online sources (BBC Good Food) and a book I downloaded to my Kindle from Amazon. Hamlyn All Colour Cookery Tapas and Spanish Dishes

I haven’t decided on next weeks 4 dishes yet but it will probably include a fish I haven’t used before.

So today we will be eating leftover Red Pepper and Egg Salad and Tomato Rice and Chicken.

Happy weekend!

Superfood Gluten Free Bread

 

As I don’t eat gluten, I am always on the look out for new bread recipes to try. Many of the GF recipes are made with white rice flour and tend to taste very bland and have no fibre content. I don’t eat sandwiches much any more but eat bread as toast, to get a bit of a crunch. Using seeds and nuts helps with the crunch as they crisp up when toasted. 

This recipe by Ella Woodward from “Deliciously Ella’ is full of wholesome ingredients. It requires no kneading, no tin and just a bit of effort for a great loaf.

I usually make it and have a few slices warm, keep a couple of slices out for the next day to toast and freeze the rest in slice portions, ready for a toasty breakfast. 

When I fancy a change from granola, I know there is some good and wholesome bread. It takes a while to toast but when its ready, I slather in butter and peanut butter (I  know…) or marmite or jam if I feel like it. 

Please have a go, you will be surprised at just how nice it is. 

When we arrived in Spain, I knocked this loaf up. I hadn’t got any almonds so used pecans and macadamias instead and it worked just as well. 

The ingredients you might not have in your cupboards are psyllium husk powder and chia seeds.These are the ingredients that bind it together. Both of these ingredients, can be bought on Ebay and health food shops. Chia seeds are now available in most supermarkets. 

Please let me know how you get on. 

Ingredients for 1 loaf

200g almonds

260g pumpkin seeds

200g brown rice flour

85g sunflower seeds

3 tablespoons psyllium husk powder 

3 tablespoons mixed herbs

2 tablespoons chia seeds

600ml cold water 

Salt and Pepper 

Method

Blend the almonds and half the pumpkin seeds in a processor until a flour forms 

Add the ‘flour’ to all the other dry ingredients in a large bowl

Add the cold water and mix together

Leave for 1 hour

Pre heat oven to 200 c

Turn the dough onto a greased baking tray

Shape into a loaf shape with your hands – don’t make it higher than 5-7 cm tall

Bake for 45- 50 mins until it turns golden brown and you can pull a clean knife out of the middle. 

Let it cool on a wire rack. 

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