Welcome to the first Recipes4us Newsletter
of 2012. If you have any suggestions, additions or interesting questions
for the newsletter, please write to me at
You can now quickly share this page with your friends and family via
twitter, facebook, email plus lots of other options by using one of the
buttons below. There's even a print button.
For 2012 I am also going to pay more attention to dairy, gluten/wheat free, vegetarian
and vegan cooking so where appropriate, you
will find the following next to recipes to highlight their properties:-
DF = Dairy Free
GF = Gluten/Wheat Free
There are also some new sections such
as "Perfect Pairings" and "Cupcake Corner" which will be
featured from time to time so hopefully, the newsletter will
continue to be both pertinent and interesting.
Bacon and eggs:
Strawberries and cream - some things are just meant
for each other.
Often (though not always)
there are logical reasons why two particular
ingredients have been put together in the first
place, so I have decided to feature examples of
these combinations from time to time, some of which you
may not have tried or even heard of, but all of
which will hopefully tickle your taste buds.
For the first of these, as
5th–12th is Bramley Apple Week (UK)
I've chosen to highlight an
age-old favourite, namely Pork and Apple.
we cannot know for sure when or where this
pairing came about, it can be assumed that wherever
apples were grown and pigs were reared in the same
place, the idea of apples with pork must have popped
up, especially as in many cases, the pigs were
allowed to eat windfall apples rather than them
being allowed to rot on the ground.
Also, it was
traditional to slaughter pigs in the autumn - the
same time apples are in season. Interestingly, apple
is often served with goose which was also
traditionally in season/slaughtered in the autumn.
serving apple with pork came about, it cannot be
argued that apple certainly helps offset the
fattiness of pork, whether served as a sauce on the
side or freshly cooked in slices, quarters or
February is Sweet Potato Month
AND 20th - 26th is National Chip Week
you've never tried making sweet potato chips/fries you
simply MUST. They make a really nice change to normal
chips and go well with most meats and poultry.
Sometimes I make a mixture of
ordinary chips and sweet potato chips and so long as you
cut them a little bit bigger, they will fry in about the same time
as ordinary chips.
You can even make oven chips with
sweet potatoes if you don't like frying, although you
should bear in mind they'll roast more quickly than
ordinary potatoes - around 25 minutes. Here's a recipe
for you to try
1. Preheat the oven to 200C, 400F, Gas Mark 6. Cut
the potato into slices 1cm/just under ½-inch thick
then cut the slices into 1cm/ ½- inch thick chips.
2. Place in a large shallow dish, coat all over in
sunflower or corn oil then spread the chips evenly over a
baking sheet in one layer, sprinkle sparingly
with salt and/or chilli powder if using, and bake for
20-25 minutes, turning 2 to 3 times during the cooking
Click the picture to find the latest
Recipes4us additions plus the latest celebrity chef videos
to see what's in season this month, how to cook it
and to find a UK Farmers' Market near you.
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
The Watercress Soup Diet has long been the preferred choice
of Liz Hurley who claims that whenever she gets a hunger
pang, she just has a cup of watercress soup.
Leading nutritionist Sarah Schenker has developed a version of the
Watercress Soup Diet which is nutritionally balanced
consisting of a high carbohydrate breakfast,
watercress soup for lunch and a high protein supper. 11 volunteers in a
north London diet group lost an average 1stone 3lbs in
just six weeks. All participants had to have watercress soup for
lunch at least four days out of seven and were
encouraged to have a cup of the soup if they felt peckish
The diet trial
was commissioned by the Watercress Alliance, an
organisation that represents British watercress
farmers. Watercress has emerged in recent years as a
super food containing an amazing 15 vital vitamins and
nutrients. Gram for gram watercress boasts
more vitamin C than oranges, more vitamin E than
broccoli, more calcium than whole milk, more iron than
spinach and it is also the richest available dietary
source of PEITC (phenylethyl isothiocyanate) which
research suggests can fight cancer.
You can find out more about the
Watercress Soup Diet by visiting
www.watercress.co.uk. In the meantime here's the
recommended recipe for Watercress Soup.
Coincidentally, 4th February is Homemade Soup day
so why not try it anyway whether or not you want to lose
Makes 3 bowls
approx 100kcal each
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 pints of chicken or vegetable stock
2 small potatoes, diced
3 x 85g bags of watercress
A pinch of salt and freshly milled black
In a large saucepan sweat the onion in two
or three tablespoons of stock or water.
the rest of the stock potatoes together with
the seasoning and the pan. Bring to the boil
and simmer until the potatoes are soft.
the watercress, and stir for three minutes
then remove from the heat and blend in a
liquidiser. Serve hot or cold.
British Yorkshire Pudding Day
This year British Yorkshire pudding
day falls on Sunday 5th February. British Yorkshire
Pudding Day (BYPD) was first created by Recipes4us back in
2008 so 2012 celebrates its 5th
birthday. You can read more
about the day by clicking the BYPD logo below.
For a change, I decided to
devise a dessert Yorkshire pudding recipe and,
if I say so myself, it's jolly scrumptious.
2 small Apples
50g/2oz Sugar (granulated, brown or
75g/3oz Plain Flour
2 tbsp Maple Syrup + extra to serve
75g/3oz Frozen or Fresh Blueberries
1. Preheat the oven to 200C, 400F, Gas Mark 6.
Place about 25mm/¼-inch of oil in the bottom of
4 of the holes of a 6-hole deep muffin tin and
place in the oven whilst it's pre-heating.
2. Peel and core the apples then cut into small
dice (no larger than 1cm/½-inch.
3. Melt the butter in a small frying pan stir in
the sugar then add the apple and cook over a
medium heat for 4-5 minutes, turning and
stirring frequently, until just softened.
4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apple
mixture to a large plate, spread out and place
in the fridge whilst you make the batter.
5. Meanwhile, place the milk, egg, flour and
maple syrup in a mixing bowl and beat with a
hand or electric whisk until well blended and
smooth. Add the cooled apple to the batter and
6. Make sure the oil in the muffin tin is very
very hot. If it's not sizzling, then heat on the
hob. Once sizzling, divide the apple/batter
mixture between the four holes then sprinkle the
fresh or frozen blueberries on top.
7. Place in the hot oven immediately and bake
for 15 minutes until golden brown and slightly
served hot with ice cream and drizzled with
extra maple syrup or serve at room temperature.
for perfect Yorkshire Puddings
·Never use self-rising flour or any kind of
raising agent or baking powder.
Contrary to what you may think, it
actually results in flat, soggy
·Make sure the batter is of the right
consistency (a little thicker then
unwhipped double cream) and as
smooth as possible. Using an
electric whisk helps, but is not at
·Make sure the oil is VERY hot before
pouring the batter into the tin. It
may be easier to heat the tin
containing the oil on the stove top
rather than in the oven. You should
aim to have about 3mm/1/8 inch of
hot fat in the bottom of the tin
before you add the batter
·Try not open the oven door for the first
10 minutes of the cooking time and
after that, only enough to have a
peek at what's happening if you have
to. The aim is to allow the puddings
to rise, brown and set so they don't
·Remember that a large Yorkshire often has
a slightly heavier base. If you want
very light airy Yorkshires, opt for
individual or popovers
In my Kitchen
Silicone Cupcake moulds
I have several cupcake/
muffin tins - old and new; 6 -hole and
12-hole; large and small holed. So why would I
bother buying individual silicone cupcake
moulds? Well, to cut a long story
short, I recently bought a new
microwave/combination/convection (fan assisted)
oven. As my normal oven is a bit hit and miss
temperature wise (I always use a separate
thermometer when baking cakes), I thought it would be great to
bake cakes in the new one. The problem is
most of my cupcake tins wouldn't fit as the new
oven has a turntable.
My good excuse to
try out this new-fangled silicone stuff.
browsing on Amazon, I came across heart shaped
ones too so, as Valentines day was approaching I
decided to get normal round ones and the heart
I must admit I didn't
really read the blurb or any reviews, and when
they arrived, I was a bit disappointed as the
heart shaped ones seemed a little on the small
side. Still, they are meant to be "fairy" cakes
and as there were 12 individual moulds for each
I just reckoned on eating twice as many if
Although I had read somewhere that silicone
bakeware should be oiled before the first use,
as there weren't any instructions included with
these, I didn't bother. I simply made up a
normal cupcake mixture and 2/3rds filled most of
the moulds. I only half filled a couple
(pictured below) because I wanted to further experiment when
it came to icing the tops as I wanted to see if
they would unmould cleanly if iced whilst still in the
The cakes cooked
well and evenly
unmoulding them as soon as I could
handle them which was around 2 minutes, and they came out easily whilst
I did leave a
couple to get completely cold and
although they turned out ok, I would
recommend unmoulding cupcakes whilst
they are still warm
I was happy with
the shape of half-filled heart moulds
but the 2/3rd filled hearts seemed
to lose their shape towards the top
The cake I iced
while it was still in the mould with
glace icing unmoulded ok however the
icing did run down the sides a little so
it wasn't as cleanly an iced top as I
had hoped for
The moulds washed
up ok - made easier that they
completely turn inside out - but still
much more fiddly than a rigid tin.
Round moulds - The
overall performance of the normal round cases is fine
and I'm glad I bought them to use in my new oven,
especially as I have found just using paper cases
sometimes results in cakes which spread in a non-uniform
Heart moulds - If you want really
pronounced heart shapes then perhaps these silicone ones
are not the best to use, however if you're not
fussed about the shape of your baked goods then they'll
be perfectly adequate.
- They are ok, although bear in mind you will have to
unmould cakes intended for anything other than eating at
home to ensure your silicone moulds don't get lost . . .
or stolen !
14th February is
The easiest way to make
ordinary recipes suitable for Valentines day is to
use heart shaped dishes to cook or
serve. The selection on the right are just
a few available to buy. Alternatively you can
cut or shape foods such as pastry into hearts.
For Valentines day recipes
plus information about St. Valentine and the day in
general, visit our
Valentines Day Page.
Judging from feedback left on
the site, it would seem many of you are really into
making cupcakes - or fairy cakes as they were called
when I was a kid - so I have decided to feature a
new cupcake recipe every month.
As it's Valentines day and I've featured heart shaped
silicone cupcake moulds in this newsletter, I thought it
appropriate to make special valentine heart shaped cupcakes
as the first in this new series of cupcake recipes.
This recipe features a new
icing (well new for me) which uses fresh or frozen
strawberries and which is soooo delicious you'll
want to eat it straight out of the bowl ! Not only
do the strawberries give the most delightful
delicate colour but considering there aren't many
strawberries used, a surprisingly vibrant
strawberry flavour too. The strawberry flavour
is further emphasized with the use of straeberry jam
as a filling - think mini Victoria Sponge.
I have also done a video
however I ran out of time and it still needs
editing, but keep an eye out for its appearance in
Videos Section in
the next couple of days
Valentine Strawberry Cupcakes
Prep and cooking time: 35 minutes plus
Vegetarian Makes 12
For the cakes
100g /4oz Butter or Margarine, softened
100g /4oz Caster Sugar
100g /4oz Self Raising Flour, sieved
2 Medium Eggs
1 teasp Vanilla Extract For the Filling
Approx. 3 tbsp Jam For the Topping
100g /4oz very soft Butter
225g /8oz Icing Sugar
50g/2oz/6 medium Strawberries - fresh or
Make everyday recipes extra special using our specially selected Valentine
1. Preheat the oven to
180C, 350F, Gas Mark 4 and place 12 heart shaped
silicone cases onto a baking tray. You can also use
ordinary paper cases or a cupcake tin.
2. Place all the cake ingredients in a large mixing
bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon, electric
hand whisk or in a bowl food processor, until well
3. Divide the cake mixture between the moulds,
filling to about 2/3rds, level the tops with a small
spoon or spatula and bake for 15 - 20 minutes until
well risen and firm to the touch. If using silicone
moulds it's easier to remove the cakes from the
moulds whilst they are still hot. Allow the cakes to
cool completely on a wire rack before
4. Meanwhile, make the butter icing, place the
butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with a wooden
spoon until very soft then pass the strawberries
through a large sieve onto the butter and mix
briefly. Discard the pulp and seeds.
5. Sift in the icing sugar and beat with a wooden
spoon until well blended and very smooth. Set aside
until you are ready to assemble the cakes but do not
refrigerate as the mixture will "set" and become
more difficult to pipe.
6. Cut each cupcake in half horizontally as you
would a layered sponge sandwich, spread with a
little strawberry jam then replace the top.
7. Pipe or spread the butter icing onto the top of
Cooking Skills . . .
21st February is
Shrove Tuesday: Pancake Day
them being one of my favourite desserts and so easy
to make I no longer even bother to weigh the
ingredients, I probably only make pancakes two
or three times a year. I really don't know why
as it literally takes a few minutes to mix the
batter and around 1½ minutes to make each pancake, so
even if there are lots of people to feed (or if you
are just a glutton like me - two pancakes just
doesn't cut it), it's still relatively quick to
make once you get into your rhythm.
are 5 top tips for perfect pancakes plus one of
my latest videos in which I show you how to cook
pancakes, or to be more precise, chocolate
pancakes with spiced pears and a rich chocolate
sauce. Even if you don't fancy that particular
recipe, you can see the steps required to make
for perfect Pancakes
use a plain flour (never
self-rising) and don't over-beat the
batter. (See also the "experimenting with . .
." article below)
the frying pan until very hot then add
1-2 teaspoons of vegetable oil and heat
until almost smoking, swirling it around
to coat the bottom of the pan
off the excess oil before adding
enough batter to thinly coat the bottom
of the pan (around 4mm/
Let the pancakes cook until the
edges start to look dry and don't be
tempted to move them before this as
they will just tear apart. This
should take 30-60 seconds
Turn and cook for around 30 seconds only the
second side and bear in mind it will
not colour as evenly as the first
side. Also, for some reason, the
first pancake made never seems as
even as the following ones. Weird
Whilst on the subject of pancakes,
I thought it would be interesting to experiment making
gluten free flours, especially as there seem to be more
and more people who are intolerant to gluten and/or
Although there are quite a few
gluten free flours, many are not suitable for use by
themselves i.e. without the need for additional and
unusual ingredients such as xanthan gum, and many are
not readily available to buy. Between these two factors,
I was left with only two which would be suitable and
which I can get easily - Gram (chickpea) flour and White
I decided to stick as closely as
possible to a normal pancake batter mix, so initially
for both flours I made up a batter using the following
quantities which for both mixtures was sufficient to
serve 4 (8x20cm/8-inch pancakes).
a large pinch of salt
The mixing was the same - the
cooking was the same, with both batters frying well and
the pancakes cooking very evenly - perhaps more so
than when using normal wheat flour. I found the
pancakes held together well even when made quite thinly.
Then came the challenges.
(Chickpea) Flour Pancakes
click on the photos for close
The taste was quite
bland and the texture wasn't very pleasing -
not exactly hard but much dryer than
pancakes made with wheat flour. A little
So in the next batch I
made I added 2 tablespoons of melted butter
so see if it would produce a softer pancake
as it does with crepes, and 2 tablespoons of
Both the texture and
flavour were vastly improved and next time I
will try adding even more melted butter which I
think might improve the texture further and
substite the sugar with honey
or maple syrup. I can recommend this rice
flour gluten free batter for sweet pancakes.
Although I didn't
actually try it, I know that they would also
be great for savoury pancakes: just omit the
sugar and add more salt or other savoury
seasonings such as chilli powder, herbs etc.
Once again, the
texture wasn't very pleasing - more
coarse than the white rice flour ones, but
the nightmare for me was the flavour which I
found over-whelming. So much so, that
I didn't even bother experimenting with
sweet gram pancakes.
For the next batch I
added 2 level teaspoons of dried sage, some
pepper and a lot more salt. I just had to
get some flavour into it.
As these were going to
be the base of a savoury recipe. I wasn't
too concerned about the texture although I
did make them a little thinner and got
an extra small pancake out out it.
Worked a treat. The
natural nuttiness of the chickpea flour went
very well with the herbs so I wouldn't
hesitate to recommend this chickpea gluten
free batter to make pancakes for savoury
recipes. Substitute the sage with other
herbs or seasonings such as chilli (powder
or freshly chopped), curry powder etc.
Focus on . . .
I am being a little self indulgent
in this newsletter as chestnuts are one of my favourite things to eat
in the winter. I usually just roast or grill them which
always evokes memories of street vendors selling them
from braziers on cold winter nights. I think my dad was the
first to introduce me to them - I was so young I can't
quite be sure where we were but probably some market or
Unfortunately, in the UK they are certainly a seasonal food
with many supermarkets only stocking them for a few of
weeks around Christmas time. However, this year, I
found a local independent shop who is still selling them now
(having sold out a couple of times), so
I determined myself to try to preserve some. Here's what
I've come up with.
initial thought was to make marrons glacés (shown
left), These are a sweetmeat which originated in Southern France
and Northern Italy hundreds of years ago - certainly a
recipe has been found dating back to 16th century Lyon.
Although the simple description is
"candied chestnuts" true Marrons Glacés take several
days to prepare as they are traditionally cooked and
steeped in a sugar syrup several times until the nuts
are candied all the way through, before being
Apparently, they are very
popular in France, though having looked online to find
how much it would cost to buy them, the cheapest I could
find was a 475g jar of chestnuts in syrup at £15
with boxed dried versions coming up even more expensive
- up to £30 for 250g. As I was running out of time and
couldn't take the four days required, I decided to just
preserve my chestnuts in syrup which ended up taking me
just 1 day to prepare, with the added bonus that they
will keep longer. Here's how I did it.
To fill 1 x
360ml /12oz jar
Approx. 350g/12oz Fresh
Chestnuts (in shell)
2 teasp Vanilla Extract
1. Soak the chestnuts
in boiling water for 20 - 30 minutes. This
softens the shells a little which enables
them to be cut more easily.
2. Drain them then cut
a horizontal slash through the shells using
a sharp knife. Try not to cut too deeply
into the actual chestnut.
3. Place the slashed
chestnuts in a saucepan, add enough cold
water to cover and 1 teaspoon of the sugar, bring to
the boil and continue to boil for about 15
minutes. Don't cook for too long or they'll
4. Using rubber gloves
to protect your hands, remove the shell and
inner brown membrane from the nuts. Doing
this whilst the nuts are still hot is a lot
easier and some shells will just slide off.
5. Be gentle as you
want to keep as many nuts as possible whole,
although broken parts can be
used to infill larger gaps in the jar.
6. Place the sugar,
water and vanilla extract in a small
saucepan, bring to the boil then boil
rapidly for 5 minutes.
7. Add the chestnuts,
making sure they are completely covered by
the liquid, bring back to the boil then
reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30
minutes. If there isn't enough liquid, add
some boiling water and mix gently but
thoroughly. After 30 minutes, remove from
the heat, and leave to steep at room
temperature for at least 4 hours.
The syrup will have turned a brownish colour
and will have thickened a little
8. After the 4 hours,
return to the heat, bring to the boil,
reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30
minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside
for another 4 hours. The syrup will have
thickened and browned even more.
After the 4 hours, prepare your jar by washing in hot
soapy water, making sure you rinse it very well, then
dry in a warm oven. Bring the chestnuts to the
boil one last time, then using a
slotted spoon, transfer the chestnuts into the
sterilised jar, being careful not to break them. Top up with enough syrup to cover and
seal/close the lid.
in a cool dark place where it should keep for quite a
few weeks although you can start eating them immediately.
If there is a lot of
syrup and especially if it's very thin, boil rapidly to
reduce and thicken before pouring into the jars.
ways with . . .
17th February is National
February is the perfect month
for cabbage day as it's one of the few vegetables which
is naturally in season during winter months. Better
still, there are different types available all of which
are suitable for different methods of cooking.
Here are just three examples:-
Green Spring Cabbage
Suitable for long
slow cooking when it becomes very soft. Very
good cooked with sweet spices such as cinnamon
Great for stir
frying and for using raw in salads such as
coleslaw where it adds a good crunch.
served as green cabbage but generally requires
less cooking as the leaves are quite soft.
Below are some items
you may need to purchase in order to more easily prepare, cook or
serve recipes or ingredients featured in this newsletter. They are all available
from Amazon - click the links/pictures and get them delivered
direct to your home or office.
Yorkshire Pudding Day
Moulds/ Valentines Day
National Chip Week
Pork and Apple/Bramley Apple Week
Fold of the Month
This is a
relatively easy fold which is especially
great for children’s parties when
brightly coloured napkins go down well.
Make sure your
napkin is very well starched so it
stands upright easily.
1. Place the napkin back side up in a
square and fold in half upwards..
2. Fold the top right hand corner
downwards so the edges line up at the
3. Fold the right hand bottom
corner to the left along the centre line
so the edges line up at the bottom
4. Fold the top
left hand corner down to meet the bottom
right hand corner
Holding the right hand bottom corners
down, place your other hand between the
4th and 5th layers to open up the cone,
then carefully turn up a deep hem all
the way round. Stand the hat upright
Recipe of the Month
Carrot and Rosemary Cobbler
3rd February is
National Carrot Day (UK).
For a delicious
warming take on the classic stew, give this recipe a
For the lamb:
700g diced lamb for stewing
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2cm rings
1 large onion
1 small leek cut into rings
1 bay leaf
1 tsp redcurrant jelly
2 cloves garlic finely diced (optional)
850ml good lamb or vegetable stock
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Pinch dried rosemary/tsp fresh
For the cobbler/scones:
225g self-raising flour
½ tsp salt
50g hard butter
120 ml milk
1 tsp dried rosemary
50g strong Cheddar cheese, grated
Prep and Cooking
time: 2 hours Serves
For the lamb:
1. Preheat the oven to 170C/Fan or
150C/325F or Gas Mark 3.
2. Put the olive oil into a sauté pan.
Coat the lamb in seasoned flour. Fry the
meat until browned. Throw in the
vegetables and bay leaf. Fry for 2
minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Add the redcurrant jelly and dried
rosemary. Add stock. Season to taste.
4. Transfer the meat to a casserole dish
then cover and bake for 1¼ -1½ hrs or
until the meat is tender.
For the cobbler/scones:
1. Increase the oven temperature to
220°C/Fan or 200°C/425°F or Gas Mark 7.
2. Sift the flour with the salt into a
large bowl. Cut the butter into small
cubes. Toss it into the flour. With
fingertips, rub in the butter until the
mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add salt
and pepper. Add the rosemary and cheese.
3. Make a well in the centre of the
mixture, beat the egg and milk together
and bring the mixture together with a
knife. The mixture will be sticky. On a
floured surface, knead the dough two or
three times until smooth. Roll or pat
into a flat block about 21/2 cm / 1"
thick. Cut into rounds with a floured
4. Brush the tops of the scones with the
remaining beaten egg for a golden crust.
Put the scones directly on top of the
casserole and cook for 15 - 20 minutes
until well risen and golden brown.
Nutritional values of Carrots
Per 25g/1oz = 11 Calories
Total Fat 0.0475g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0192g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.002g
% Daily Value *
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie
diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower
depending on your calorie needs.
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000
calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or
lower depending on your calorie needs.
Find the best of UK produce online - even unusual or
Food shopping has never been easier !
February in the Kitchen Garden
By now you should have
ordered most of your veggie seeds, but even if you haven't, they
will be appearing in garden centres and stores very soon and
you still have time to order them online.
If you're thinking about
growing potatoes you should buy "seed" potatoes now. These
are just small potatoes which have been certified as virus
free. When you've got them, set them with the rose "eyes"
uppermost in a light frost-free place. They will begin to
sprout in about 6 weeks.
You can start sowing the seed
of Aubergines and peppers, including chillies, in late February indoors in small pots
7.5cm/3" diameter filled with compost.. Peppers in
particular require a relatively long growing season so to
avoid disappointing crops it's a good idea to start them off
indoors before acclimatising them to outside conditions.
Hold off sowing outdoor seed
until the end of February and even then, sow with caution as
cold soil conditions hamper germination. Unless the weather
has been very clement, it's best to wait until March.