Friday, March 21, 2014

Lilleshall Abbey

Lilleshall Abbey was an Augustinian abbey in Shropshire. It was founded between 1145 and 1148.  Later a Civil War stronghold.

The words are taken from the English Heritage website, which is linked below.  The photos were taken by myself. 

West Range
The buildings on the west side of the cloister seem to have been largely rebuilt in the 14th century, probably to improve the abbot's accommodation. His hall and private chamber may have been located at first-floor level
Chapter House
The canons met in the Chapter House every morning, usually after Mass. They listened as a chapter from the Rule of St Augustine was read, confessed their faults, and discussed abbey business.
The surviving grave slabs are a reminder that the chapter house was often the place where abbots were buried. More than 20 burials were discovered here in the late 19th century.

Slype or Parlour
The slype was a narrow passage with doors at either end, probably giving access to the canons' infirmary to the east of the cloister. It may also have served as the parlour, where the canons could discuss important matters without breaking the cloister rule of silence.

The canon's refectory was their dining room. Bread and beer were the staple elements in the community's diet, but fish, eggs and vegetables were also eaten. Meals were taken in silence, apart from one of the brothers reading from the scriptures.
The monks were very self sufficient
 and often made beer for theirselves.I thought it would good to include a recipe here:
  Abbey Beer
  • 9 pounds U.S. 2-row
  • 1.5 pounds Munich malt
  • 0.5 pounds 60L (or darker) crystal malt
  • 1-2 ounces of chocolate malt
  • 1 pound of honey or dark brown sugar
  • 6 - 7 AAUs bittering hops, a mix of hallertauer and kent goldings (60 minute boil)
  • Chimay yeast, of course
Add hops at 60 minutes before end of boil. You are not looking for high hop bitterness, nor should there be noticeable hop aroma.

If you're not an all-grain brewer, then don't use the 2-row or munich malt but use, say, 7 pounds light, unhopped dry malt extract instead. Use crystal and chocolate malt for color. The honey or brown sugar will boost the starting gravity as well as contribute to the flavor and body of the finished beer. You might try doing the fermentation at a relatively "warm" temperature, say, 70 to 75 degrees F. This should lead to more of that Chimay flavor in the finished beer. And, don't drink the beer all at once, as its flavor will evolve in the bottle over time.

On the south side of the church was a large open court or cloister, probably used as a garden. It was surrounded by four covered walks linking the monastic buildings. The elaborately carved doorway dates from the late 12th century. It was used by the canons to enter the church in formal processions.

Dedicated to Helen, rest in peace.
 I am enjoying my holiday. 
There isn't anyplace I would rather be. 



Sunday, March 2, 2014

Reblochon Means Tartiflette

 We got to lay our hands on some Reblochon, not available in the states.  The milk used to make this cheese is not pasteurised, thus making it ineligible for import into the United States of Silly Rules.

What a lovely treat to come across here in Britain, however.

 Reblochon is a soft, washed rind, French cheese.  Common to the Alps region, it is a A.O.C. controlled product.

It was lovely to finally make a proper batch of Tartifilette. A very simple recipe, that can be served as a meal with a side salad and a glass of preferably, white wine.

6 med. potatoes and 3 cloves of garlic, crushed and small diced shallots, then steamed until slightly tender.  Place in a casserole making sure the garlic is distributed.  Between each layer of potatoes, sprinkle rendered lardons and a splash of white wine. Season with salt and pepper.  Moisten with a splash, or two of cream.  Top the whole lot with the Reblochon and cook through in the oven, until the cheese is all melty and browned on top.  


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Port and Honey Pecan Pie

 Hope everyone has had a nice holiday season. This will be a big "catch-up" blog, since the holidays were pretty busy for us.   First we made a trip to Missouri and Iowa for Thanksgiving.  My sister lives near Hermann, Missouri and besides visits with family we usually make a stop at local wineries.  Here I am highlighting Stone Hill Winery:

We always get a bottle of this treat there among other wines, usually more dry.....Everyone needs a bit of sweet sometimes.  I love to cook with this Port, as well.

Back home and onto Crimbo, my sister gifted this to me.  It was a good surprise, as I didn't know there was a local honey source there. 

 I must explore the source of this quality product more next time I visit.



For our New Year sweety I combined the Port and the honey and I came up with this dessert.

Port and Honey Pecan Pie

1- 9 in. pie shell
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. honey
1/2 c. butter
3 eggs
1 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. milk
1/4 c. port
1 tsp. vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla pod worth of beans
1-1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400 deg. (205 deg. c) In a large bowl beat eggs until foamy, stir in melted butter.  Then, stir in sugars and flour.  Add port and incorporate completely, then the milk and vanilla.  Fold in the chopped nuts.  Pour mixture into the pie shell.  Bake for 10 minutes and reduce the oven to 350 deg. F and bake 30 - 40 minutes more.

I also want to point out that my sister has a Bed and Breakfast in the area, check it out:


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blueberry Banana Cranachan

Here is a Scottish dessert that not only has a twist, but is turned on it's head.  A traditional cranachan uses raspberries.  This one uses blueberries and bananas.  It is healthy and very tasty.  If you aren't partaking in alcohol, use orange juice.  This would make it a good breakfast then, as well.

1/2 cup rolled oats (toasted)
1 cup whipped cream (sweetened with 1/4 c. confectioners sugars and a 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.)
1 cup blueberries
2 tbsp. honey
2 bananas (sliced)
2 tbsp. whisky (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spread oats out in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until nut-brown. Set aside to cool. Remove them from the pan for faster cooling.

Mix the honey into the blueberries.

To assemble layer banana slices, then oats, then blueberries amongst 4 dessert cups.  Then a dollop of cream. Repeat, but before the final whipped cream dollop pour in a bit of whisky in each dessert cup. Serve.

To better show the layers:



Blueberry Coconut Cream Tea Scones

A twist to an English cream tea.  The scones are enhanced with coconut and the cream is coconut cream.   Enjoy this with coffee, or tea.


2 1/4 cups flour
4 tsp. baking power
2 tbsp. sugar
pinch of salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup milk
1/3 cup coconut

Preheat oven to 450 deg.  Make a course meal texture out of the dry ingredients and the butter.  Use you hands and a mixer.  Add the milk and form into a soft dough.  Roll into a disc an inch thick on a floured surface.  Now cut into six even triangles.  Bake until golden about 20 minutes. cool slightly.

Coconut cream:

1 can full fat coconut
2 tbsp powdered sugar

Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight.  Now scoop the firm white cream off the top of the can.  Put in a mixer and add the sugar.  Whip into a firm whipped cream.

Blueberry Jam:

2 c. + 24 fresh blueberries (reserve the 24 blueberries to garnish the final product)
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 pouch fruit pectin

Prepare fruit in saucepan  on stove. Stir sugar into fruit. Mix well. Bring mix to full boil for 5 minutes over high heat; stir constantly.

Pour pectin pouch into fruit and continue to boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam. Let this set in the refrigerator about an hour.

To assemble, I do it the Cornish way.  Jam and then cream.  Split the scone in half, spread with jam and top with coconut cream, Sandwich the top of the scone and enjoy.


Balsamic Blueberry And Chocolate Melba Toasts

A new blueberry sweet treat!  All the flavors balance on a nice crispy toast.  To make these little ones start by making a small yield blueberry jam, here is a basic recipe:

2 c. + 24 fresh blueberries (reserve the 24 blueberries to garnish the final product)
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 pouch fruit pectin

Prepare fruit in saucepan  on stove. Stir sugar into fruit. Mix well. Bring mix to full boil for 5 minutes over high heat; stir constantly.

Pour pectin pouch into fruit and continue to boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam. Let this set in the refrigerator about an hour.

The next step is to reduce 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar with 2 tbsp sugar dissolved in it.  Bring to a nice syrupy consistency.

Now make a batch of hard shell chocolate, to do this:

Melt 7 ounces of  chocolate, either on a double boiler, or a microwave works nicely,  then stir in tbsp of coconut oil.  Make sure all ingredients melt and are incorporated.

To assemble lay out 2 dozen melba toasts on a tray.  Spread each one with blueberry jam.  Drizzle with reduced balsamic.  Now you can dollop some chocolate in the center and place a blueberry on top of each toast.  Place the tray in the freezer for a few minutes to set the chocolate.  Now you can display on a clean platter.  Serve.


Blueberry Broccoli Quinoa Salad With Rosemary Vinaigrette

Here is a healthy side dish with a slightly sweet element in the form of blueberries.

To make this recipe start by preparing a rosemary vinegar.  To do this bruise several sprig of rosemary and add to a 1/2 cup white wine vinegar. Let marinade for 1 or 2 days.

 Blueberry Broccoli Quinoa Salad With Rosemary Vinaigarette

1 cup Quinoa (lightly toasted in a dry pan)
2 c. water
1 cup blueberries
1 head broccoli cut into flowerettes (cook til tender and cool)
1 bunch scallions, chopped 
1/2 cup rosemary infused white wine vinegar (strained)
3/4 c. oil
2 tbsp. whole grain mustard
2 tbsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the quinoa to a boil with the water and then turn the heat down to med.  Cook until water is absorbed approx. 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool.  Fold in broccoli, blueberries and scallions place in the refrigerator.  Prepare the dressing by whisking the vinegar with the mustard and honey.  Gradually add the oil while whisking and whisk until thick.  Stir into quinoa salad and serve.