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Obligatory Food-Related Ramble!

Hello hello. ^_^

Partly to continue my efforts to actually update this journal and partly for my own reference, here is some Stuff About Food.

(I guess this post roughly equates to Option C as offered in my last entry - although it's not only 'Adventures in Experimental Cake Batter'! >_<)

This will probably be less than thrilling for anyone but me to read, but here it is anyway!

Stawberry Streak Cake

As usual I've been continuing to bake, cook and have a go at new (to me!) recipes etc.  The 'experimental cake batter' referred to was only semi-successful, but interesting (...to me!).  I had a punnet of sad strawberries waiting for death on the kitchen counter.  Sad, sad strawberries! :-(  We bought them with every good intention, but then they got a little warm on the way home and didn't get refrigerated - we have a *tiny* fridge - so I decided to use them up in some way where they'd end up cooked.  I wondered idly whether I could put them in a cake.

I weighed three eggs and miraculously, they came to exactly 200g.  So I whisked together 200g softened butter and 200g icing sugar (out of curiosity, really - hence the 'experimental' part!) with the eggs (sort of spludging it together with a wooden spoon first to avoid getting icing sugar all over the kitchen!), folded in 200g of self-raising flour -- and I can't remember whether I put in any baking powder. XD  Then I folded in 150g of chopped strawberries - all that was salvageable from the Punnet of Sadness. :-(

I put it in my big 22" springform cake tin, scattered about a teaspoon of vanilla sugar over the top, and baked it for... and now I can't remember. :-\  Probably 180 degrees C., check it after 20 mins. and judge any additional time required from the state of the cake! ^_^

The actual cake part worked pretty well - I read before I tried it that if using icing sugar instead of caster sugar, you might need to use more (something to do with the moisture content), but the cake was really light, not dry at all, didn't taste as sweet as regular sponge cake but was certaintly sweet enough.  The strawberries, unfortunately, migrated to the bottom and formed a vaguely-strawberryish stain.  It tasted ok, but... ehh.  I do like the idea of a Strawberry Streak Cake, though; if I try it again I will try something cunning, such as... part-baking half of the mixture, then putting the strawberries in, followed by the remainder of the mixture, and baking some more.  Possibly...

Apple Muffins

I also tried this recipe last week.  It was... ok-ish; I used one large cooking apple instead of two dessert apples, and I grated it instead of chopping, which was not a good idea as the apple disappeared into the batter and you couldn't taste it at all.  I used less sugar than suggested and replaced some with honey.  Lastly, I only had olive oil, which you could kind of taste.  It didn't taste bad, just... ok.

Apple Muffins again - actually Plum Muffins!

So, not to be defeated by the mighty muffin, today I've baked this recipe, but I've used plums (four of 'em) instead of apples, and ginger instead of cinnamon for the topping (plus I left out the nuts).  I now have sunflower oil, which doesn't 'taste', thankfully!  Plus, this recipe uses only a small amount of sugar so I imagine it's probably ok for those trying to avoid an excess of naughty treats.  They've turned out pretty well - next time I'll turn the oven down a bit more, but other than that the recipe is a good 'un!  The plum works well, I'm very fond of plums in baking/baked desserts (and they are so seldom good to eat on their own - either hard and sour or mushy and tasteless... :-\).

Vanilla Buttermilk Scones

Lastly on the baking front, at the weekend I baked these amazing scones - wow! :-)  I did add a tweak of my own, which I think made them Wow-er, if I do say so myself! ;-P  Around a teaspoon (maybe a bit less) of vanilla extract mixed into the egg/buttermilk mixture, and a little vanilla sugar sprinkled on top... oh my, they were fantastic!!  We enjoyed a cream tea in the garden on Saturday afternoon: I made a pot of Earl Grey tea and served the scones with clotted cream and farmhouse damson jam (around here there are loads of amazing food producers, including lots of people doing delicious jam!  I daresay the saintliness of having 'bought local' offsets some of the calories...?).  The damson jam was just sharp enough to offset the sweetness of the scones - strawberry jam might've been too sugary and bland, methinks.  Blackcurrant, raspberry, orange marmalde or anything else fairly tart would probably go best!  I will definitely be baking vanilla scones again, and yes, the buttermilk definitely helps them along: no more heavy scones!! XD

Actually, I'd love to have a go at other additions to the scone dough: maybe some lavender, if I could get some (really ought to grow some!); maybe savoury ones (maybe based on this recipe?), with tarragon and a mild, hard cheese like Emmental... hmm... and you could almost turn that into a pie-crust... *ponders scones... sconders??* >_<

Roast Chicken

And speaking of tarragon, yesterday I conquered my foolish fear of the roast chicken. >_<  Yes, really...  A long time ago, in another life, I made a disastrous attempt at roasting a chicken, which put me off trying it again until now.  Having had success at Christmas with the (arguably much trickier) turkey, I decided it was high time I roasted a chicken. ^_^  I did what my mother always used to do: put half a lemon in the cavity (you can also put in half an onion, but there wasn't room in ours!), mush up about 50g of butter with a handful of chopped tarragon, a pinch of sea salt and some finely-ground black pepper, slap that all over the chicken, then into the oven it goes for the recommended time.  And that's all there is to it!  I did baste it once, and covered it with foil for the last half-hour or so, but really... what was I worried about?!

Proper Gravy!

I made proper gravy, too! :-)  Why do people use that weird, gloopy stuff, like... meat custard?!!  Yuck.  Real gravy is very easy.  (It used to be my job at home to make the gravy for Sunday lunch.  That ought to prove how idiot-proof it is!)  All you do is skim off as much fat as possible from the roasting tray, put the tray on the hob over a lowish heat, add a little flour and work that in with the back of a spoon, add a splash or two of wine or sherry (or a tiny bit of wine/sherry vinegar) and let the alcohol cook out, and lastly some stock.  As long as you stir it all the time with the back of a spoon you won't get lumps, and it makes all the difference to your lovely roast dinner. ^_^

Various Veg

To go with the chicken I did potatoes boulangere but with leeks instead of onions, and tarragon instead of thyme, and carrots and celery cooked in stock.  (The latter should really have been braised in the oven, but I didn't have time, or indeed space in the oven!)  I was very happy with how it all turned out, and we have leftover chicken for various lunches etc. ^_^  I must get into the habit of doing some kind of joint more often...

...Aaaand that is all on the food front, for now at least.


( 8 confidences — Confide in me... )
May. 17th, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC)
The food sounds really great!
May. 18th, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you! ^_^ Sorry there are no pictures this time...
May. 18th, 2011 12:43 am (UTC)
I may need to gank the recipe for vanilla buttermilk scones, as the lolmom is inordinately fond of them and always likes to try new ones :D

Also, I wish the word "punnet" was in more common use here, because it sounds like a cross between an -et word (like "tuffet" or "bonnet" or something) and "pun". :D I can identify re: the sad, sad strawberries, though. They're coming into season here, hurrah!
May. 18th, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC)
Trying new scone recipes = a very good thing! :-) Delia Smith is usually pretty reliable, too.

Punnet is definitely a good word! If only they came with mottos or old jokes printed on them they would really live up to their name. ;-)
May. 19th, 2011 02:33 am (UTC)
Lolmom is the best guinea pig :)

That would be awesome. If I thought there was likely to be money in that, I would totally try to get that started :D
May. 19th, 2011 12:28 pm (UTC)
The best guinea pigs are indeed the appreciative kind! :-)

Sadly I'm thinking it's more likely that advertising on punnets is a more likely outcome than jokes and one-panel comics. :-\ As soon as 'They' (...'They' who invent all the shady sciencey stuff!...) get electronic paper perfected, I imagine there'll be adverts on *everything*. D-:
May. 18th, 2011 05:53 am (UTC)
Also, when roasting your chicken, when it is done and resting, turn it upside down, so all the juices soak back into the breast :)
May. 18th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
Ah, that's a good idea, I'll have to try that next time! Some people say to begin cooking it upside down as well - I never knew a chicken was such an acrobatic creature! ;-)
( 8 confidences — Confide in me... )

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