Archive | December, 2012

Perfect and easy cheese scones

2 Dec

You know how it is, you’ve got some nubs of cheese left in the fridge and you think they’d be better cooked than eaten on a cracker.

But you want your cheesy snack NOW.

Mimolette cheese scones

Mimolette cheese scones

Well, this is the recipe for you – from start to finish it probably only takes about half an hour.

Ready?

Off we go.

Spicy cheese scones

Preheat oven to 200C / GM6. Prepare a baking sheet

  • 200g SR flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • a good shake of celery salt
  • a good shake of cayenne pepper
  • a good shake of smoked paprika
  • about 40g unsalted butter, straight from the fridge, grated on a coarse grater
  • 100g mature cheddar-type cheese (I used mimolette) either grated or cut into wee chunks
  • 3tsp crunchy mustard
  • 100ml milk
  1. Sift all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl
  2. Stir in the butter and cheese
  3. Add milk and mix together with a fork
  4. Bring together with your hands and knead REALLY lightly on a floured board. If the dough is really solid, add more milk – it should come together, but feel quite light and spongey (not hard and solid)
  5. Pat down to about 2cm thickness
  6. Either use a cutter to make about 8-9 scones, or cut into rough scone shapes with a knife
  7. Bake for 12-15mins until golden brown

Grating the butter means you don’t need to do anything other than mix it in to the dry mixture – no working it till it turns into breadcrumbs. To be honest I didn’t weigh the butter, I just grated about 1/6 packet of butter (mark the pack of butter half way down, then divide the half into 3 .. don’t actually cut through it, just mark with a knife then grate to this point).

You could make these into wee baby scones and they’d be delish with a wee sherry at Christmas. Or Bonfire Night

Christmas muffins (The Cranberry Years)

2 Dec

I love Christmas food.

Cranberry clementine muffins

Cranberry clementine muffins

Well, I love my sort of Christmas food – which is almost anything apart from traditional Christmas cake. I love warm and mellow Christmas spices; chestnuts thrown into all manner of leftover dishes just because you have them; turkey; glazed ham; mulled wine; spiced cider; and cranberries. I really love baking with fresh cranberries.

And I know it’s only just December, but I was in the wonderful Whole Foods Market in Giffnock again this weekend and they had ENORMOUS fresh juicy cranberries. I had to have them.

And I had to make muffins with them. I combined them with clementine zest and orange juice, for flavour. And a muffin batter which included extra bran and porridge oats to make them pretend they are somewhere further along that health spectrum than you might imagine. But then lots of melted butter to make sure they are still tastiness itself.

And now you can make them too. If you start now, they’ll be ready within an hour. Unless you have to go out and pick your own cranberries.

Cranberry & clementine muffins

Preheat oven to 375F / 200C / GM5-6. Prepare muffin tins, lining them with muffin cases. Makes about 12 regular muffins . 

  • 8oz plain flour
  • 1oz bran
  • 1oz porridge oats
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3oz dark brown or muscovado sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 6oz fresh cranberries (you could use blueberries, or other berries of your choice)
  • grated zest of 5 clementines
  • 7fl oz clementine or orange juice
  • 3oz melted butter (or 3fl oz veg oil)
  1. Mix together in a large bowl: flour, bran, porridge oats, baking powder and salt
  2. In a separate bowl beat together: sugar, egg, zest, juice and melted butter
  3. Pour liquid ingredients into the dry ones and stir until just combined, adding the berries towards the end. The batter can have lumps but there should be no pockets of dry flour
  4. Spoon into muffin cases (about 3/4 full should work, and produce nice full muffins)
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are golden brown and the muffins spring back when you poke them gently

 

 

I need to talk about chickens

2 Dec

So, a few things have changed in my life recently.

I left my flat in the city and moved in with my boyfriend, The Captain. We live in the country, a mile or two away from the nearest town and surrounded by fields. The bottom of the garden leads to a lovely wooded hillside, and if you walk down through the trees you reach the River Clyde. It’s a beautiful part of the world.

That was number one change.

Then I got a new job. I had the interview and was offered the job a few days before I moved house, so it was a pretty hectic few days. And for the first time in my life I decided to do the grown up thing and take a week off between jobs. I’m so glad I did it.

I’d sort of thought I might get some unpacking done that week, but it appears that if it’s not essential, it stays in an unmarked box in the cupboard under the stairs, behind many other unmarked boxes. We’re now nearly three months on and I’ve still got a big pile of boxes to deal with – but of course nowhere to put all the things inside the boxes, so perhaps it’s easier if they all just stay where they are. I’d really like to find my circular knitting needles though, and be able to reach my vases again, but these things can probably wait.

So, the week off. Instead of unpacking boxes we built a chicken run. And then got chickens. Three gorgeous wee broon hens. They are Lohmann Browns, a hybrid breed, bred especially to give high egg-laying yield (around 300 eggs a year is possible from one chicken). What I didn’t know when I got the wee girls is that they are the easiest creatures to keep, and that these three ladies would have such friendly personalities.

What I’ve discovered about keeping chickens in the last 6 weeks:

  1. They each have their own unique personalities
  2. I feel a bit squirk when I get an egg straight out of the chicken, still warm and then cook it and eat it
  3. I’m no longer sure that I could eat my chickens once they’ve stopped laying
  4. Chicken will come running to you when they are called
  5. Chickens LOVE sweetcorn
  6. Dogs and cats and chickens can live in harmony after a few days of anxiety
  7. Moby our jack russel wants to be a chicken
  8. The chickens don’t want Moby to be a chicken
  9. A free range chicken is a happy chicken
  10. Eggs from your own happy chickens really do taste better
  11. Poaching a REALLY fresh egg is so much easier than one even a week old (and I suspect most shop bought eggs are at least a week old)

So, now for some pictures of my girls. Next time I’ll give you my quick no fail method of poaching an egg.

Chickens on a mission

Chickens on a mission

Hector thinks someone might have a treat for her

Hector thinks someone might have a treat for her

Tommy doesn't lay eggs. She just chooks about and annoys Hector and Achilles

Tommy doesn’t lay eggs. She just chooks about and annoys Hector and Achilles

4 ordinary eggs and the FrankenEgg (it was a lovely double yolker)

4 ordinary eggs and the FrankenEgg (it was a lovely double yolker)

My girls, chooking about like chickens do

My girls, chooking about like chickens do

 

%d bloggers like this: