No. 91 - August 2010

Welcome to the August 2010 Recipes4us Newsletter. If you have any suggestions, additions or interesting questions for the newsletter, please write to me at .


Happy Cooking!





Florence Sandeman,




Focus On . . .

                          Summer Pudding     

A popular way to use the abundance of berries available now, is in a summer pudding, so much so, that both the BBC's Saturday Kitchen and Delia Smith have very recently featured how to make them, though their methods and recipes were very different.

Below is a video showing my take on making summer pudding which differs slightly to many recipes you may have seen.

For a start, I decided to make individual puddings as not only are they easier to handle than large ones but I think they look prettier.

Another difference is that I used brioche - a French  egg-enriched bread which is slightly sweet. I made mine in my breadmaker but it is widely available in most supermarkets.

The filling is slightly different too. I'm not that keen on eating berries with larger seeds such as raspberries and blackberries because the seeds always seem to gravitate to the gaps in my teeth !  So although I have used a small amount of raspberries in this recipe, the majority of the filling is made up of blackcurrants, redcurrants, blueberries and strawberries.

This is, of course, a purely personal preference and so long as you keep the total quantity of fruit the same, it won't make any difference to the execution of the recipe.

Finally, the pudding is served with frosted berries creating a really special and beautiful dessert. They're easy to make too.

For the full sized video and recipe click here


Experimenting with . . .

                       Making small quantities of jam  


This experiment was brought about by the fact that I had some soft fruit left over from the recipe  I did for this month's video (above). There wasn't that much - just a couple of handfuls or so and I got to thinking about what I could do with them (apart from eating them fresh).


When it comes to jam a jar of shop-bought jam usually lasts me many many months, cluttering up my fridge. I wonder why jam nowadays has to be refrigerated?  Anyway,   I decided to try to make a really small quantity to see how it would turn out.


Answer - Very well indeed. All in all it took around 10 minutes to make the jam and it was ready to eat within a couple of hours, once it had completely cooled.  The method and principle is the same no matter what fruit or how little you are making.


You need equal amounts in weight of fruit and sugar plus about half a teaspoon of lemon juice to every 225g/8oz of fruit. I used just 200g/7oz of fruit which was basically 4 large strawberries (cut up) and a handful of redcurrants, 200g/7oz sugar and ½ a teasp of lemon juice .  The lemon juice is just an insurance policy to ensure the jam sets and is especially recommended when using strawberries or other fruit which don't contain much pectin - see my note below


I cooked the fruit in a medium sized saucepan over a medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring once in a while, until the fruit was soft then I stirred in the lemon juice, added the sugar, raised the heat to high, brought it to the boil then continued to boil it for 4 minutes - no longer.


At that point I removed it from the heat and tested for a "set" by placing a teaspoon of the jam onto a cold plate and leaving it for a few minutes  then when pressed the top wrinkled up slightly. 


And voila - an almost instant small quantity of homemade jam ( about 180ml/6fl.oz. of finished jam) which just needed to be allowed to cool before using.


Better still, I didn't have to mess about with jars, wax discs, lids and sterilising as I knew it would be eaten within a couple of days. All I did was transfer it to a bowl and cover with clingfilm once it was cool. 


About Pectin

Pectin is a gelling substance that occurs naturally in many fruits.  Slightly under-ripe fruits contain more pectin and are recommended for making jam.

Some fruit are high in pectin, whilst others have very little, so it's a good idea to mix low and high pectin fruits such as blackberry and apple. Adding lemon juice to low pectin fruit also goes some way to compensating.  It is also possible to buy sugar which has added pectin, powdered and liquid pectin - particularly useful if you want to make a single fruit jam with a low pectin fruit such as strawberries.

Below is a short list showing various fruit and their pectin levels.

High-pectin fruit
Crab & cooking apples, blackcurrants, gooseberries, plums, redcurrants, cranberries, damsons,  oranges & lemons

Medium-pectin fruit
Raspberries, loganberries, boysenberries, tayberries and apricots.

Low-pectin fruit
Blackberries, peaches, blueberries, rhubarb, strawberries,  sweet cherries, dessert apples, pears and figs


Other food celebrations in August include:-


3rd Watermelon Day

4th Lasagne Day

5th National Mustard Day
(see the Mustard Page)

8th National Hot Dog Day (UK)
(see the Hotdog Page)

8th National Zucchini Day (US)

9th National Rice Pudding Day

19th Potato Day (US)

Harvest Month
(see the Preserving Section)

Peach Month

Coping with fussy toddlers

Between the ages of one and three years it can be difficult to get kids to eat the right foods particularly as some toddlers can be fussy eaters. 

Help is here with Celebrity Chef and mother Lesley Waters, along with SMA nutritionist Anne Sidnell who have designed 6 easy meals to satisfy your tot’s taste buds, and give them a good dose of the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.

To see the the first two in the series visit the Cooking Videos page - celebrity chef videos. For more information and advice on feeding your family plus lots of family friendly meals, see the Family Cooking page.



Afternoon Tea - A Very British Affair

  Did you know....

The custom of drinking tea originated in England in the 17th Century when Portuguese Catherine of Braganza (married to Charles II)  made it fashionable

If I say so myself, no-one does afternoon tea like the British. It's just a shame that it seems to be dying out as a "meal" in most households, being reserved for a special treat to be eaten out at hotels and swanky restaurants.

Traditionally served between 3.30 and 5pm,  it's  remarkably versatile as it can be whatever one wants - from a simple cup of tea served with buttered toast or a biscuit to a more substantial affair consisting of cakes, pastries, biscuits, scones and sandwiches.

Traditional items served at teatime in the UK include:-

Dainty sandwiches made with fillings such as cucumber, egg and cress or fish paste, crumpets, English muffins, fairy cakes (cupcakes), large cakes such as Victoria Sponge, fruit cake or battenburg, pastries such as cream horns and small sweet tarts, cream cakes of all kinds and scones served with jam and clotted cream (known as a cream tea) or butter.

In the "cooking skills" section below, I show you how to make fresh scones but here are other some other favourite teatime recipes to whet your appetite.


    Cooking Skills . . .

                Homemade Scones   


Carrying on with the afternoon tea theme, here is one of the latest Recipes4us videos in which I show you how to make delicious scones. This really easy recipe only takes around 20 minutes from start to finish using everyday ingredients you'll already have in your store cupboard.


Put together with the jam article above, all you need to add for a scrumptious homemade cream tea is some clotted cream and, of course, a pot of your favourite brew.


Although this video demonstrates the basic recipe for plain scones, you can easily adapt it by adding other ingredients  to make a host of other scones - both sweet and savoury.

For the full sized video plus written recipe click here.




Food in the News . . .



Vitamins D & E show brain benefits


Eating food rich in vitamin E may reduce the risk of developing dementia, while insufficient levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of cognitive decline, say two new studies.


People who consumed the highest average intakes of vitamin E from the diet were 25 percent less likely to develop dementia than people with the lowest average intakes, according to new data published in the Archives of Neurology.


> > > > More    (external link)

The Cookery Murders Masterchef meets CSI


This is the last video of the series, in which Detective Chef Matt Kemp finds a murdered pear soufflé on the backstreets of Shoreditch, London. Together with his assistant he solves the mystery.




A picnic for all situations

August is National Picnic Month



Spur of the Moment Picnic

Fresh bread, sliced meats such as salami, ham or prosciutto, cheese, fresh fruit or yoghurts for dessert plus something to drink and you're ready for the off.


Kid's Picnic Food

Choose lots of finger foods such as sausage rolls, small chicken drumsticks, mini Cornish pasties, sandwiches, crisps, mini tarts, fresh vegetable batons such as celery, cucumber and carrots plus a dip or two, yoghurts and fairy cakes.  


Adult Picnic

Quiches, sliced meats, pâté, frittatas, chicken drumsticks and pasta, grain or potato salads and desserts such as cheesecakes or fruit tarts or cheeses such as brie or camembert which don't mind being at a warmer temperature.


Posh Picnic

Smoked salmon, slices of vegetable terrine, pate or goat's cheese with rocket as a starter.  Cold roast beef, cooked marinated chicken breasts,  poached salmon or raised game pie make excellent main courses.  Desserts such as Panna Cotta or crème caramel  plus a selection of cheeses.


Visit the picnic page for lots more hints and  tips on picnic-friendly food, advice about packing picnics, equipment available, food safety plus, of course, lots of recipes for perfect picnics and al fresco eating.



What's in Season in




Click here to see what's in season this month and to find a UK Farmers' Market near you. There are Lots of seasonal recipes too



Culinary Videos


Click the picture to find the latest Recipes4us additions plus the next in the Phil Vickery Pudcast series


August Weekday Menus


Click the picture to find this month's weekday menus to help you plan your meals and shopping weeks ahead.  Each weekday has a main course, suggested vegetable side dishes and accompaniments plus a dessert, which have been planned to supply you with a balanced diet. It's also been designed so that you can interchange one day's menu with another in the same grouping and most of the main courses are ready to serve in less than 40 minutes - great for working people.


Recipe of the Month


Watermelon and Goats Cheese Salad

with a citrus dressing

It's Watermelon Day on 3rd August

This refreshing starter is an unusual way to use fresh watermelons which are in season now. It's quick and easy to prepare and packed with vitamins and minerals with each serving supplying 2 of the recommend 5-A-Day.

Serves: 2   -    Prep time: 15 minutes

For the dressing
2 tbsp Honey
4 tbsp Fresh Orange Juice
4 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Other ingredients
450g/1lb Watermelon Flesh, deseeded and cubed (about 900g/2lb with rind)
100g/4oz Chevre, cut into small cubes
A large handful of Watercress




1. Place the dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until well blended.

2. Add the watermelon, goats cheese and watercress and toss gently to coat well.

Cook's Tip....


For a more substantial non-vegetarian starter, serve with a couple of wafer thin slices of Parma ham. Great for BBQ's and al fresco eating.



The Kitchen Garden


* * * 2010 Garden Experiment * * *


RECAP - This year I decided to try growing summer pumpkins. I've chosen the variety "Summer Ball (Sahara)" because not only will the plants produce 1kg/2lb pumpkins, but the fruit can also be cut when they are small and used like courgettes (Zucchini). Suitable for containers or open ground, I will be trying both methods.


After my rocky start having lost the one grown in the garden bed and having to re-sow it, I am pleased to report both the pot grown and open grown specimens are doing very well. As to be expected the garden bed one (on the right in the picture below) is behind . . .  but not by much and it is showing promise with some teeny weeny pumpkins already appearing.



I've harvested one pumpkin from the pot grown one already. It was only the size of a golf ball but the instructions said they could be harvested and eaten as you would courgettes - and very delicious it was too even though I had to mix it with some other veggies which I'd also picked. That's always the way with plants like courgettes - unless you have several plants, the first harvest always seems to consist of just one.  Still, won't be long until I'm getting several at a time as can be seen from this close-up of the pot grown one.


August in the

Kitchen Garden


Continue to feed plants such as courgettes, marrows, cucumbers, aubergines, tomatoes and capsicums and keep the soil well watered though not very wet.
Make final small sowings of crops such as loose leaf lettuce, radish and spring onions at the beginning of the month..

Check the ties and staking of taller plants such as beans and tomatoes , loosening or tightening as necessary and continue to keep all plants well watered.

Bend the leaves over the developing curds (heads) to protect from the sun.

Aubergines and Courgettes
Cut fruit as needed once they have reached a good size and colour (between 10-17cm/4-7" depending on the variety) but before the shine disappears from the skin.

Beans, Peas & Mangetout
Continue to harvest regularly as and when the pods reach a suitable size.

Don't forget, when harvesting spinach, leaf beet and Swiss Chard, only harvest a few outside leaves from each plant, allowing the plants to keep throwing up new leaves


Start harvesting crops such as beetroot, carrots, khol rabi and turnips when they have reached golf ball size, pulling every other plant to make room for the remaining plants to grown on. Same goes for carrots.


For detailed growing instructions visit growing herbs and vegetables section


If you're interested in how the rest of my new garden is doing, visit my blog at



Whether you're looking for everyday,  exotic or unusual food and drink,  visit  Food shopping has never been easier !

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