Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Birmingham German Christmas Market

Birmingham, England is twinned with Frankfurt, Germany and they put on an annual Christmas market. The setting was in Victoria Square near New Street and The Bullring. I did think of you here Lucie.


Sweeties and Snacks

More Sweeties! These were tasty, Lucie do you have the German name of these yummy marshmallows?

What do these cookies say?

These were called German burgers, served with fried potatoes and mushrooms. Are German burgers authentic? What makes them different to other burgers? I didn't try this food,but was intrigued.

Sausages. This is what I tried, both kinds!

The mulled wine warmed me just before it started to snow. I got my own mug to bring back for a refill next year.

Pretty painted votive candle, it looks like cut clay and is my kept trinket.

I would never eat these due to the sprinkles on top (it's a texture thing), but they are too cute! I love hedgehogs ever since I saw one in a garden here in England.

The mad dash to get out of the weather and onto a train northbound.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dundee Cake


Dundee cake is a traditional, Scottish, Christmas cake. It is a lighter version of run-of-the-mill fruitcake with almonds in a lovely display on the top. It is said that it was created due to the fact that Mary, Queen of Scots didn't like cherries in her cake. I imported a few in mine, although it is still a lighter cake.

Dundee Cake

8 oz flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 oz butter
5 oz sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 oz blanched almonds
8 oz mixed peel
6 oz currants
4 oz each dried cherries and pineapple
Grated rind and juice of an orange
2 tablespoons whisky

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3. Grease and line, with a double layer of greaseproof, an 8” tin.
Sieve together the flour and baking powder. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs incorporating them one by one, alternating with the flour mixture. Add cherries, pineapple, currants and mixed peel. Add Orange juice and whiskey, mix well.

Pour mixture in the tin. After it has been cooking for an hour, arrange the almonds in concentric circles on the top of the cake. Cook for another hour.

Make a nice glazey sauce to soak into the cake:

4 tablespoons marmalade
3 tablespoons whisky
2 tablespoons orange juice

Melt in a saucepan and serve warm over a slice.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bubble and Squeak, it's Not Greek....

Left-overs of meat and cabbage bubbled, they squeaked and carried-on in a pan, hence the name that followed of the famous British dish. As time moved on from the 18th century, the dish evolved to leaving out the meat and using cold veg such as potatoes, cabbage, brussels sprouts, etc. left-over from a Sunday dinner. This evolution is probably due to wartime rationing, when meat was less available.

This version of the dish is a fusion of British and Spanish. I found this in a compilation book of Yours magazine and had to try it.

Kale Bubble and Squeak w/ Chorizo

800g. boiled potatoes
200g.kale, shredded
225g. chorizo, diced
2 med. leeks, sliced
1 tbsp. oil

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the leeks and chorizo for about 7-8 minutes. Add the potatoes and kale and fry 1-2 minutes. Lightly crush the potatoes down, brown and heat through. Turn out onto a plate and serve.


and dont't forget the SQUEAK ***

In Cockney rhyming-slang when they say "Bubble(s)" they mean Greek, due to Bubble and Squeak.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oh My Darling

Now playing: I Sanremini - Oh Mia Cara Clementina (Oh My Darling Clementine)
via FoxyTunes

The lovely seedless Christmas treat that is packed with vitamin C! These low calorie Mandarin oranges make a lovely snack and help protect against cancer. If you eat enough of the portable taste delights it can lower blood pressure. This time they are made into a vinaigrette and added to Spaghetti Squash from the garden (remember the veg. garden?) The squash was harvested in October, they have a long shelf-life. Spaghetti squash are another low calorie choice that is packed with vitamins that can be found this time of year. This squash was baked at 400 deg. for a hour; in a shallow pan, cut side down in a pool of water, sort of steaming them. I added a knob of butter and then the vinaigrette. Serve hot!

Served with Braised Short Ribs that were glazed with a beer....Yes, Stout....

Population 1 more!

To make the glaze- reduce the pan juices with a jar of homemade ketchup, (Yes, that came from the garden too.) beer, 1/4 c. brown sugar and a big spoon of mustard.

Roasties- lightly oiled (goose fat is best for this) Russet potato chunks roasted in a convection oven set to 400 deg. make another great side.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ginger Inspirations

The inspiration for making a lovely gingerbread comes from several different sources. This all assumes that one needs justification for a good baking session....

* The blog of my friend Kathy a few blogs back.

* The combination of my favourite Tazo iced tea, lemon/ginger.

* The recipe I saw in a recent Imbibe magazine.

* A jar of stemmed ginger.

* The holiday season.


* The weather!

I used the recipe from the November/December 2009 issue of Imbibe magazine, but I added a few twists.

They quote the recipe from a cookbook called 'All Cakes Considered.' The producer of the radio program 'All Things Considered' is well known for bringing delicious cakes into work. The recipes were made into a cookbook.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

1/2 c. butter
2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 lrg. egg
1 c. treacle (twist)
1 c. dark beer
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 8oz. jar stemmed ginger, drained of syrup and finely chopped (twist)
dash of salt
crystallised ginger

juice of 4 lemons (twist)
2 - 8 oz. containers cream cheese
1/2 c. butter
3 c. icing sugar

Whip together until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 deg. Line a muffin tin with holiday cupcake liners. (twist)

Cream the butter and brown sugar. Add egg, treacle and beer. Beat well for a couple minutes. combine dry ingredients in separate bowl. Add to wet ingredients slowly until all is smoothly combined. Fold in stemmed ginger. pour batter into cups. Bake for approx 20 minutes. Cool completely. Frost with icing. Garnish with cut crystallised ginger.

These strongly flavoured cupcakes are guaranteed to give you a lemon/ginger kick in the pants!!! Believe me, that is a GOOD thing this time of year.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"I'm Just Crackers About Cheese!"

"What's wrong with Wensleydale?"

Nothing, especially with cranberries!

Wensleydale is a cheese from the Yorkshire town of Hawes. The cheese is made from ewe, or cow's milk. Here is a lil history blurb from another site:

"Wensleydale cheese was first made by French Cistercian monks from the Roquefort region, who had settled in Wensleydale. They built a monastery at Fors, but some years later the monks moved to Jervaulx in Lower Wensleydale. They brought with them a recipe for making cheese from sheep's milk. During the 1300s cows' milk began to be used instead, and the character of the cheese began to change. A little ewes' milk was still mixed in since it gave a more open texture, and allowed the development of the blue mould. At that time, Wensleydale was almost always blue with the white variety almost unknown. Nowadays, the opposite is true, with blue Wensleydale rarely seen. When the monastery was dissolved in 1540 the local farmers continued making the cheese right up until the Second World War, during which most milk in the country was used for the making of "Government Cheddar". Even after rationing ceased in 1954, cheese making did not return to pre-war levels."

8 oz. self-raising flour
3 oz. butter
1/2 c. milk
handful of dried cranberries
150 gr. pkg of Wensleydale with cranberries
egg wash, or milk
sprinkling sugar

Preheat the oven to 220 deg. c (gas mark 7. Make a sandy mixture of the flour and butter with a fork. Don't handle with hands too much and melt the butter. Mix in the dried cranberries. Add the milk and form a ball for dough. Roll out onto a floured board to 1/2 thick, cut into rounds. Place on a greased, or lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash, or milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes until well-risen and golden-brown. Allow to cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm with butter, or clotted cream.

Take the "Last Train To Wensleydale" to try these out.

Thanks to Wallace for the cute quotes about his beloved cheese.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Out of the Foggage

Fordhall Farm is managed by Ben and Charlotte Hollins, they live and work there as tenants. They took this venture over from their father Arthur Hollins who started in 1920's. The farm is located just outside Market Drayton.

Like the sign says, the farm is owned by many people that bought shares to keep the farm alive.

The farm is certified organic and follows the principles of permaculture. Soil management is the key for a farm, proper soil health negates use of chemicals. They raise the animals as near to natural conditions as possible. The animals mature more slowly than more modern methods. The animals live a happy life and that leads to a better product.

If you can't make it to the farm and walk the guided trail, here are some links to learn the finer details:

I bought some sausages at the farm store and made special bangers and mash with the chestnuts I bought in Market Drayton.

Bangers and Potato/Roasted Chestnut Mash w/ Brandy Gravy

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's Just Offal

Here we have haggis stuffed in a carved turnip. We didn't forget the neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes) both served chappit(mashed), they can also be served "bashed". Traditional Scottish haggis consists of sheep stomach stuffed with offal- such as a boiled mix of liver, heart, lungs. This is also mixed with rolled oats.

The inspiration for placing my haggis in a carved turnip comes from reading the origins Halloween. At least I got this blog done before Thanksgiving. It turns out Halloween started in Scotland and Ireland with making lanterns out of a turnip, or swede. It is when the custom reached the Americas that it evolve into the use of pumpkins. At the end of a good night of keeping spooks at bay, one could fill their turnip with haggis.

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

...And so starts the address of the haggis at Burns Night. Robert Burns - 25 January 1759 to 21 July 1796- was a poet and lyrists and well regarded and celebrated to this day. Robert Burns Night has a tradtional dinner of:

Cock-a-leekie soup

Haggis warm reeking, rich wi' Champit Tatties,

Bashed Neeps

Tyspy Laird (sherry trifle)

or Oatcakes and Cheese

A Tassie o' Coffee

We didn't pair our haggis with a wee dram as Robert Burns Night dictates, but we had a beer pairing- Tha's Niver Seen Owt Like It!

Hear All, See All, Sey Nowt! ;-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Black Pudding

Black Pudding- A sausage made with blood (usually pig), that is heated with a filler (usually meat, fat, suet, bread, sweet potato, barley and oatmeal) when it cools it congeals into the product we know and love. In North America it is called blood sausage. My friend Lucie probably knows it as similar to Blutwurst. In the United Kingdom, black pudding is usually a part of full English brekkie.

At The Pound, Leebotwood I made a starter similar to this one. My home version has the addition of parsnip in the mash and a lightly dressed cress salad.

Black Pudding with Whole-Grain Mustard Mash, Grilled Apple and Poached Egg

In Market Drayton I found some interesting beers with pairing suggestions. The pairing suggestion on this particular bottle says Black Pudding Bhuna. I didn't make bhuna, but being that it is black pudding I thought- good 'nuff. :-)

An interesting note here- The Barnsley Brewery is owned and run by the people that own the original Market Drayton gingerbread recipe, they took it with them when they moved to Yorkshire from Market Drayton. Hmmmmm.....Be that way!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Not the buttons! Not my gumdrop buttons!!!

Market Drayton

I will quote the words of the official Shropshire tourist website quite a bit in this particular blog. I hope you don't mind.

I went to Market Drayton on a Saturday and the market was running, just not at full capacity. I bought some nice chestnuts at the market, that will feature in an up-coming blog. I didn't make it to view the canal, but hope to in the near future.

"A Saxon settlement referred to as Draitune in the Domesday Book and granted its market charter by Henry III, it has been home to one of the liveliest street markets ever since."

"The town also has some rather beautiful architecture. You'll find half timbered and red brick buildings in the town centre and the skyline is dominated by the beautiful 14th century church which is built from local sandstone."

"Every Wednesday Cheshire Street, the main road through the town, is closed off to allow local stallholders to set up and sell their wares. You'll find everything from clothing and electrical goods to linens and products for pets. There is also much local, fresh produce that is ideal to liven up your dinner plate."

"The town's most famous son, Clive of India, even gave the French a culinary lesson. His "little pies" won the Guinness Best Pub Food Award. The French in Pezenas wolf down 150,000 a year.

Indeed, Robert Clive was something of an entrepreneur and adventurer. He is rumored to have run a protection racket amongst the local shopkeepers and it is also claimed that he climbed the church tower. In later life he went on to defeat the French and thus secured the spice routes for the British empire. It is believed that he is responsible for bringing ginger spice to the town."

Here is a link to find out more about Clive of India:

"Market Drayton is the home of Gingerbread which has been baked in the town for the last 200 years. Not content with rum in their secret recipe, decadent Draytonians dunk it in port. It is reputed to have curiously restorative powers."