No. 105 - March 2012
Welcome to the March 2012 Recipes4us Newsletter. If you have any suggestions, additions or interesting questions for the newsletter, please write to me at Newsletter@Recipes4us.co.uk . 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.
Food celebrations in March include:-
1st St. David’s Day
4th National Pound Cake Day
6th National Frozen Food Day
5th – 11th British Pie Week
9th National Crabmeat Day
17th St Patrick’s Day
18th Mothers Day
20th Ravioli Day
21st National French Bread Day
25th International Waffle Day
26th Spinach Day
26th National Nougat Day
27th National Spanish Paella Day
31st Oranges & Lemons Day
National Celery Month
National Flour Month
National Noodle Month
National Peanut Month
National Sauce Month
1st week - National SPAM® Appreciation Week
National Pound Cake Day
4th March is National Pound Cake Day
What is a Pound Cake? If you follow modern recipes, you can be forgiven for assuming it's a cake which will weigh 1 pound. However this is not the case.
The following recipe taken from a 1747 cookery book makes it all very clear:-
“Take a pound of butter, beat it in an earthen pan, with your hand one Way, till it is like a fine thick cream, then have ready twelve Eggs, but half the whites; beat them well, and beat them up with the butter, a pound of flour beat in it, and a pound of sugar, and a few Carraways. Beat it all well together for an hour with your hand, or a great wooden spoon butter a pan and put it in, and bake it an hour in a quick oven."
This cake was devised to make remembering one's weights and measures easy in the days when many people didn't have cookery books to refer to, indeed many couldn't even read.
But just think about those weights. A good sized layer cake uses around 225g/8oz of flour so the original pound cakes must have been huge. I was really tempted to try the above recipe out (apart from the hour's beating which doesn't seem right to me) but I couldn't think what I would do with such a large cake . . . apart from which I don't have a tin big enough.
5 Pound Cake Tips
1. However much flour you decide to use, for accuracy weigh the eggs in their shells, to that amount
2. Use all the ingredients at room temperature, in particular the butter.
3. If using the traditional method without a raising agent, make sure you whisk the egg whites then fold into the cake mixture thoroughly but as quickly as you can preferably using a spatula to ensure to keep as many air bubbles s possible within the mixture.
4. Use a cake tin which is the correct size for the amount of cake mixture whether it be round, square or loaf shaped.
5. Add extra flavourings or ingredients such as vanilla extract, lemon, sultanas or other dried fruit for a change.
So nowadays, any cake which uses those ratios i.e. any cake made with a 1:1:1:1 ratio of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar can be called a pound cake.
Traditionally, there was no added raising agent so the egg whites were often whisked separately then added to the remaining ingredients. Today self raising flour or baking powder is often added but the texture will not be as close as originally intended.
Pound Cakes are made in many countries albeit under different names. Here in the UK it is known as a Sponge or Madeira Cake, in France quatre-quarts (four quarters), in Germany a similar cake is called Eischwerkuchen and in Mexico it is called panqué.
Book Review ....
The Art of Cookery, Made Plain And Easy:
By Hannah Glasse
Price £20.99 | ISBN 978-1142689940 | Paperback 442 Pages
To Which Are Added One Hundred and Fifty New Receipts, a Copious Index, and a Modern Bill of Fare for Each month in Manner the Dishes Are Placed Upon the Table
Yes, the above forms part of the title - got to be one of the longest book titles ever !
This is a rather unusual review inasmuch as this book is a facsimile (like a photocopy) of a very old cookery book written by Hannah Glasse back in 1747. There seems to be no copyright issues with regards to this book which isn't that surprising considering its age plus the fact that the recipes have mostly been superseded with modern ingredients and methods and are written in a style which is somewhat difficult to understand in places.
For this reason I haven't read every single recipe (yet) as I would normally do with any new cookbook I get, however I have come across commentary on the internet implying that some of the recipes may not work due the speed with which the book was written with suggestions that some of the recipes were just made up and used as fillers.
You may be wondering why I bought this book, especially as this version isn't particularly cheap. I had my memory jogged about it whilst researching Pound Cakes, but I have known about Hannah Glasse for many years, in particular the fact that she has been credited for giving what was known as batter pudding the modern day name - Yorkshire Pudding. I did find that recipe in this book and found it to be very similar to what we cook today, unlike her version of pound cakes which required the mixture to be beaten for an hour as mentioned in the above pound cake article.
The book covers all types of recipes from savoury to sweet and has basic recipes such as roasting fowl and meat to more complicated recipes including cakes, black pudding/sausages, pickles, pies and some desserts - some of which have obvious modern day versions - and makes for an interesting study as to which ingredients were available at the time.
There are other chapters which cover slightly unusual areas such as Chapter XI. For Captains of Ships ; how to make all uſeful Things for a Voyage ; and ſetting out a Table on board a Ship which includes directions on how to make ketchup which will keep for 20 years, Chapter XX. Of Diſtilling which includes how to make plague water, Chapter XXI. How to market; the Seaſon of the Year for Butchers Meat, Poultry, Fiſh, Herbs, Roots, and Fruit. and Chapter XXII. A certain Cure for the Bite of a Mad Dog - which includes various remedies for things such as keeping bedsteads clear from Bugs and against the plague.
This version also has an appendix containing lots more recipes which was first added in the fifth edition.
Although Hannah was English and the book was first published in England, it went on to travel the pond and became a very popular and necessary cookery book there too and is one of the most important references for culinary practice in England and the American colonies during the latter half of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th.
In my Kitchen
As I've mentioned before, in the 18 months or so I seem to have bought quite a lot of new equipment for my kitchen including a couple of sets of cutters. Unfortunately in this case, I cannot for the life of me remember why I bought these cutters. I do recall the oval ones were purchased on a whim as I happened across them whilst looking for the round ones, but that's about as much as my memory will allow. What I DO know, is that I use them more often than even I thought I would, especially considering they are plain cutters, and I am equally as pleased with the impulse part of the purchase .
Both sets are made of stainless steel and come in their own tins. There are nine round cutters which range from 4cm/1½" to 12cm/5" in diameter and seven oval cutters ranging from 14cm/5½" long and 2.5cm/1" to 7.5cm/3" wide.
Although they are described as "dough cutters" I have used mine to shape all sorts of things including scones, fondant potatoes, biscuits and bread for crostini.
A quick word about the crostini - for some reason ordinary medium sliced white bread when cut with these cutters and toasted remain really crisp and light. I've made them several times to accompany drinks, topped with various ingredients - one of our favs is Roquefort mixed with cream cheese, walnuts and pear spread over the toasted crostini then grilled until bubbling. GORGEOUS. I used a medium sized one which is suitable for serving with drinks, but the larger cutters would be suitable for an hors d'oeuvre crostini.
Whilst I haven't tried it myself yet, they can double up as serving rings although they aren't that deep (about 4cm/1½ ") and so long as you don't mind the plain edge, they can also be used to cut pastry for individual tarts.
Focus on . . .
The first week of March is SPAM® Appreciation Week in the UK but for those of you who think SPAM® is British you are very much mistaken.
SPAM® is a tinned meat which was first produced by the Hormel Foods Corporation, based in Austin, Minnesota USA in 1937. It consists of chopped pork shoulder meat, with added ham set in aspic.
SPAM® came about as a by-product of Hormel's tinned ham which they started producing in 1926. After the hams were cut, there was thousands of lbs of off cuts left over. The idea to tin these in a separate product was developed and a new product called "Hormel Spiced Ham" was born.
For some reason they found the name uninspiring, so held a competition to find a new name. SPAM® was officially launched in the USA in 1937 and the name has stuck to this day.
It wasn't until World War II, that SPAM® was exported to the UK when the 'Lend-lease' act was passed by the US Government in 1941, whose aim was to aid the allied forces in Britain and Russia. For the British public, SPAM® was a god-send after years of rationing. SPAM® was a tasty and welcome addition to their diet with the added bonus that it had a long shelf life.
In the United Kingdom SPAM® is probably best known as being sliced, battered and deep-fried known as 'Spam fritters'. It was very common in the 1940s, during World War II because of the scarcity of fresh meats and continued to be made both in homes and elsewhere such as for school dinners well into the 70's.
There are lots of other ways of eating it. For example, Spam musubi is a popular snack food in Hawaii which is made up of a thin slice of grilled Spam on top of a block of rice, wrapped with nori in the tradition of Japanese omusubi. Or how about a SPAM® Carbonara or SPAM® Fried Rice. I've come across all of these recipes plus many others from around the world, which is not surprising considering it is sold in over 40 countries spanning six continents and just in the US an average of 3.8 cans are consumed every second.
For some, SPAM® came to be associated with cheap. This gave rise to a Scottish colloquial term "Spam Valley" which referred to affluent housing areas where residents appear to be wealthy but in reality may be quite poor having to live on cheap food.
What's in your email junk folder?
I hope not this newsletter! According to Hormel, the blame for the use of the word "spam" for junk mail lies firmly in a Monty Python sketch in which a group of Vikings sing a chorus of "spam spam spam ..." at increasing volumes in an attempt to drown out other conversation. The comparison to modern-day email spam came about because unsolicited e-mail was seen to be drowning out normal email.
Spring Cooking and Recipes
Spring (should have) sprung, bringing forth a wonderful array of fresh seasonal produce which will be at its best now or very shortly. Sorry if it's not spring where you are, but do visit our other sections for ideas and recipes for seasonal food wherever you are . Summer | Autumn | Winter
You may remember last year I set up a section on the main website, Spring Cooking & Recipes which includes a collection of specially selected spring recipes including spring lamb, crab, mackerel, sea trout, wild salmon, asparagus, spring greens, new potatoes, cherries and rhubarb, plus individual ingredient pages with additional information about new season ingredients. It's really worth a visit.
In the meantime, watch me make oriental style crab cakes served with a citrus mayonnaise in my latest video. This recipe is an excellent way to use fresh crab meat - both the white and brown parts - when it's at its cheapest in season (brown crabs in the UK from late March/April). They can also be made with tinned or frozen crab.
The whole world seems to go mad for St. Patrick's Day but St. David's Day on the 1st March, always seems to trail behind so this year, I have decided to devise a recipe especially to celebrate the special day of the Welsh.
My new recipe is based on a very old recipe which dates back to the 1800s - Patagonian Welsh (black) Cake. The original welsh fruitcake, also known as torta negra galesa (pictured left), was devised by Welsh settlers who went to the Chubut river region of Patagonia, Argentina, in the late 18th century. It is a rich fruit cake which is flavoured with rum (added for its keeping properties) and its dark colour comes from brown sugar and molasses. It is still served today to the tourists who visit the Welsh tea houses which still exist in some Argentinean towns.
I was a little concerned that the rich heavy nature of the original recipe may not translate well to small fairy cakes, but it took very little tweaking to achieve a delicious albeit more substantial little cupcake.
The method of mixing is a little unusual too, but do make sure you stick to the directions to ensure the fruit is soft in the finished cake.
The ingredients of these cupcakes are more or less the same as in the traditional version including mixed fruit, chopped nuts, molasses, brown sugar and cinnamon, so the taste is the same even though the proportion of fruit to flour is much less.
As a further mimic on the traditional cake recipe, these cupcakes are decorated with a thin drizzled glace icing which is flavoured with lemon.
Click here for the full PATAGONIAN WELSH CUPCAKES recipe. Veg
3 in 1 . . .
6th March is Frozen Food Day, 5th-11th March is British Pie Week, 26th is Spinach Day
I'm not sure where I'd be without my freezer. Although I make sure we eat plenty of fresh produce, my freezer still plays a major role in my house by storing lots of things from frozen meat to frozen peas to ice cream to frozen pastry, so I always have certain ingredients to hand especially in emergencies.
Where pies are concerned, I could write a whole section on them as the variations are almost endless, but as British Pie Week is sponsored by Jus-Rol best known in the UK for their frozen pastry, I'll just say a brief word about pies made with the most common types of pastry namely puff, shortcrust and more recently phyllo pastry having become more and more popular, especially as it is now readily available frozen.
Puff pastry is often used just for the top in conjunction with a pie dish i.e. the filling is placed in the pie dish which has a lipped edge, and the puff pastry is just placed on top. Also used for freeform pies and pasties. Shortcrust pastry, which can be plain or sweet, is usually used to make a pie which has both a top and a bottom. It can be used in a pie plate or tin and is also used for freeform pies and pasties. Phyllo pastry is a different kettle of fish altogether. Although it can be used just to encase fillings, it really comes into its own to create fancy toppings for special occasions.
Of course there are other types of pies e.g. pies topped with potato or made with a water crust pastry, so you have plenty to choose from.
In celebration of these 3 food celebrations, I made up a recipe which makes the most of frozen ingredients namely puff pastry and spinach, whilst at the same time celebrating Spinach Day and British Pie week.
It's not a conventional pie - it's more like an oversized vol au vent but with the middle part which is usually cut out and discarded, replaced to form a lid over the filling. Leftover chicken is the main filling ingredient. It's really easy to make and only takes around 30 minutes from start to serving.
Treat your mother to breakfast in or out of bed on 18th March which is Mother's Day here in the UK. Here are three easy recipes to choose from which even very young children can lend a hand with. Don't worry, I'll repeat this for the North American Mother's Day later in the year.
Mothers Day Smoothie
Prep & Cooking time: 5minutes
½ Large Banana
120ml/4fl.oz. Vanilla Yoghurt
2-3 teasp Honey
2 large Ice Cubes, crushed
1 Whole strawberry to garnish
Cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces, place all of the ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into a tall glass and garnish with a fanned strawberry.
Eggs With Salmon
Prep & Cooking time: 10 minutes
4 slices brioche bread
4 large Lion Quality eggs
1 tbsp milk or single cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
knob of butter
1 slices smoked salmon
chopped fresh parsley to garnish
1. Toast the bread under the grill or in a toaster. Beat the eggs and milk or cream together with seasoning.
2. Melt the butter in a medium pan (non-stick makes cleaning easier!) add the egg mixture and cook, stirring, over a low heat for 4-5 mins or until the eggs are scrambled to your liking.
3. To serve, divide the eggs between the toast and top with the smoked salmon and parsley. Serve straight away.
Prep & Cooking: 30 minutes
1 rashers back bacon
1 tomatoes, halved
2 open mushrooms
2 large Lion Quality eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 200C Fan 180C Gas Mark 6. Lightly oil 4 individual dishes about 20cm/8in diameter. Place a sausage in each and bake for 10 mins.
2. Turn the sausages then add the bacon, tomato and mushrooms. Bake for a further 10 mins.
3. Remove the dishes from the oven and shuffle around the ingredients to make room for the eggs. Carefully crack the eggs and add to the dishes. Return the dishes to the oven and cover the tops with a baking tray or foil - this stops the eggs wrinkling. Bake for 6-8 mins or until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Serve with toast.
Question: Does a dish like the Spanish "cocido" exist in British cuisine? It's mainly a meat (pork, beef and chicken) and veg (carrots, turnips, potatoes, parsnips, cabbage, leeks, at times chickpeas) stew, with a large quantity of water.?
Answer: The only thing I can think of is Welsh Cawl made with beef or lamb AND bacon plus veg (potatoes, carrots, swede, onions) which was traditionally served as two courses. There is a recipe for it on the site at Welsh Cawl
Food in the News . . .
Scandinavian food: Why is it becoming popular in the UK?
By Maddy Savage, BBC News,
25th February 2012
Swedish food sales in the UK have risen by almost 30% in the past five years, with Norway and Denmark also reporting an increase in exports destined for our dining tables. So why is Scandinavian cuisine getting so popular here?
> > > > More (external link)
Take some . . .
Västerbottensost is known as the King of Cheese in its native Sweden. With Scandinavian ingredients and cuisine continuing to be a major food trend in the UK, Västerbottensost is one of the many products leading the way.
Its flavour has been likened to parmesan but with subtle salty and sour notes.
The old Italian adage that you should never mix seafood and cheese doesn’t ring true for much of the world, especially Sweden where having seafood with cheese is the norm. The Swedish love to complement their outstanding seafood with the King of all Swedish Cheese, Vasterbottensost.
Luxurious Salmon au Gratin
1 kg/2.2lbs potatoes,
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp butter
Approx. 100 ml/3 ½ fl oz single cream
Salt and pepper
Approx.600 g/1lb 8oz salmon fillets
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
1 fish stock cube
100 ml/3 ½ fl oz water
150 ml/5 fl oz white wine
300 ml/10 fl oz double cream
150 g/5 oz grated Västerbottensost
4 tbsp whitefish roe
2 finely chopped red onions
Boil the potatoes and mash them. Add egg yolks and butter. Mix with single cream. Season with salt and pepper.
Cut the salmon fillets into 16 cubes. Season with salt and pepper.
Melt the butter for the sauce. Stir in the flour and crumbled stock cube. Add water, wine and double cream while whisking constantly. Allow the sauce to simmer for approx. 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 225°C/425°F/Gas 7. Dot the mashed potato along one long side of an ovenproof dish. Arrange the salmon pieces along the other side.
Pour on the sauce and sprinkle over the cheese. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.
Serve with whitefish roe, finely chopped onion, wedges of lime and dill.
Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Grilled King Prawns
4 red peppers
5 unpeeled garlic cloves
1 chicken stock cube
500ml/18 fl oz water
Juice and rind of 1 lemon
½ tsp salt
2 pinches pepper
50 g/2 oz dark rye bread
12 cooked king prawns
7 tbsp grated Västerbottensost
Flat leaf parsley, chopped
4 wooden skewers
Preheat the oven to 225°C/425°F/Gas 7. De-seed the peppers. Arrange peppers and whole garlic cloves on a baking tray. Drizzle a little oil over and roast in the oven approx. 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
Bring water and stock cube to the boil.
Peel the peppers and garlic cloves and place in a food processor with stock and lemon juice.
Blend to a smooth soup; if necessary, add more water to improve consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
Crumble the bread and fry in a little oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Fry the king prawns in a hot frying pan approx. 1 minute and thread three onto each skewer.
Mix cheese, bread croutons, grated lemon rind and parsley.
Reheat the soup if necessary and pour into four bowls. Serve with a king prawn skewer and the cheese mixture.
3 ways with . . .
Orange & Lemon Rind
31st March is Oranges and Lemons Day
As a bit of a change, here are three ways to use the peel or zest of oranges and lemons . . . or any other citrus fruit for that matter.
There are so many recipes which call for the juice of fresh citrus fruit leaving you with the skin and pith which I bet most people just throw away. The next time you come across a recipe like that, think "garnish" as you might as well use the skin rather than just bin it. Furthermore, the finer garnishes such as ribbons and julienne can also be eaten depending on the recipe, especially if they are cooked in plain boiling water or sugar water to soften before being used.
Flowers Ribbons Julienne
These are made by using a small sharp knife to peel the skin away in long wide strips then roll the strips up to form a flower. The longer the strips the larger the flower.
These are made using a zester where very thin pieces of zest are pared away. These can be very long or short. If soaked in cold water for an hour or so they curl even more.
These are made by using a potato peeler or knife to peel wide strips of zest from the fruit. These are further cut down into very fine strips of similar width and length.
Veg/Vegan DF GF
Recipe of the Month
Spicy Chicken with Mediterranean Vegetables
A simple and quick recipe suitable for mid-week cooking when time may be at a premium.
2 (150g/6oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 tbsp Ras-al-Hanout (morrocan spice) OR
1 tbsp curry powder, 2 tsp paprika and a pinch of ground cinnamon (check ingredients list)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp olive oil
200g/7oz baby courgettes, trimmed and halved
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
4 baby carrots, peeled and halved
8 midi plum tomatoes
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
Prep and Cooking time 30 minutes Serves 2GF
1) Preheat the oven to 200ºC/Fan180ºC/Gas Mark 6. Put the chicken pieces into an ovenproof dish and season with freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle over the spices, garlic and tsp of olive oil. Cover and leave flavours to mingle for a few minutes or longer if you've time. Roast for 20 mins until the chicken is golden.
2) Meanwhile, put the courgettes, red pepper and carrots into a roasting tin and drizzle with the remaining 1 tsp olive oil. Roast for 15 mins, add the tomatoes and cook for five more mins until the vegetables are tender.
3) Mix together the plain yogurt with the fresh coriander leaves. Serve alongside the spicy chicken and roasted vegetables.
To keep this recipe gluten free, serve with quinoa rather than the originally suggested and pictured couscous which is NOT gluten free. Make sure you check the ingredients list of ready ground spices to majke suyre they don't contain any wheat.
Find the best of UK produce online - even unusual or hard-to-find items UKFoodOnline.co.uk Food shopping has never been easier !
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.
Duchess Potatoes Pound Cake Book Review Cutters 3 in 1 Orange lemons
The Kitchen Garden
2012 Garden Experiment
I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but my tiny garden is very shady, with much of it only getting sun for a couple of hours per day.
Although last year wasn't a great gardening year for me for various reasons, it did highlight a point which practically all professional gardeners and gardening books seem to expound, namely that you need a lot of sun to grow good vegetables and fruit. Even I have always suggested this. Yet I managed to grow really nice fruit (plums) and reasonable veggies including courgettes which are supposed to be grown in plenty of sun.
So, this year I am going to experiment by growing the same crop in mainly shade - by that I mean they only get sun for 2 hours of the day - and in a container which I can move around "chasing" the sun throughout the day, though even this will probably only get a maximum of 4/5 hours - to see if there is much difference in taste, size, and yield etc.
I haven't quite decided which crops they will be but I'm certainly leaning towards tomatoes at the moment as they don't need very big pots so can be moved around easily and a green veggie such as lettuce. More next month.
Below are some handy gardening items to buy now...
if you don't already have them
Jobs to do in the kitchen garden
Although March is thought to be the usual time for sowing many vegetable seeds, don't forget to keep an eye on the weather and delay sowing outdoors until the soil is workable.
Below are some of the seeds you can start to sow outdoors if the weather in your area is sufficiently clement:-
Broad beans, Brussels sprouts, dill, summer cabbage, carrots, turnips cauliflowers, Kohl Rabi, Leeks, peas lettuce, marjoram, parsnips, radish, spinach, spring onions
You can also start sowing certain less hardy vegetables indoors so they get a head start before being planted outdoors including:-
Aubergines, Capsicums (Sweet peppers), Chives, mint, oregano parsley, rosemary, sage, sweet basil thyme, tomatoes
Before sowing seeds indoors, bear in mind that once they’ve germinated, it won’t be long before they start to romp away, and extended delays in planting them out could leave you struggling with weak lanky plants. If in doubt, sow a couple of weeks later than you had anticipated.
For more herb and vegetable growing instructions visit our growing herbs and vegetables section or for more detailed information on growing fruit as well as herbs and vegetables, plus lots of in-depth gardening articles, visit our sister site www.pots2plots.com
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