It occurred to me this weekend that I spend such a great deal of time looking up other people’s recipes only to change them to suit my palette and my cupboard, that I might as well start writing my own recipes. I have enough experience under my belt to make sensible choices and in any case cooking for me is about fun and experiementation. I decided to make tea loaf, inspired by a slice that I ate on Sunday after running group. The slice that I ate after running for over 30 minutes was so tasty, moist and refreshing, that I just knew that I had to make my own version. I also needed to cheer myself up because this was the result of my Sunday running…
During the Easter break sorted out my mountain bike and took it out for a long ride on the Thursday the following week. I cycled all the way over to Buckhurst Hill to the Roding Valley Reservoir. It is a beautiful place where I would go with my family during my childhood.
I then went running on the Sunday and found myself limping by Tuesday evening. With painkillers and rest I thought my ankle had healed but it seems that running this Sunday just aggravated the whole thing again. My limited research tells me I might have something called peroneal tendonitis, however even though I am a doctor myself, I might just let my GP look at this and advise me. In the meantime, after the application of ice, rest, elevation, and ingestion of analgesia, I was able to step bravely into the kitchen and execute my plan.
Somehow, despite identifying as English (when it suits me…) the tea loaf seems to have passed me by. Or maybe it has been so long since I have eaten one, I’ve just forgotten about their exisitance!
Here is what Wikipedia has to say on the matter.
A tea loaf is an English cake, made with fruit and cinnamon (or other spices), and traditionally served sliced and spread with butter. Tea loaf is now somewhat old-fashioned but is still available, and is particularly associated with Yorkshire.
Often in the making of tea loaves, the fruit (usually currants and sultanas) is soaked in cold tea to plump it before mixing it into the batter.
Similar breads in the British Isles include the Welsh bara brith and the Irish barmbrack.
And so I spent some time reading about how other people make this loaf and then made up my own version. Some recipes call for butter and others do not. I opted for the ‘fat free’ version. I also decided to use the coconut sugar that I had bought this weekend and added orange juice and zest.
It turned out nice. I enjoyed a slice with my mother who had kindly come to my flat to give me something for my foot.
1 cup Earl Grey tea
1 cup seedless raisins
2 cups self raising flour
Juice and zest of one orange
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1. soak the raisins in the tea and orange juice and zest for 2 hours
2. Add the flour, spices, egg and sugar to the raisin mixture.
3. Put into baking loaf tin lined with a baking paper and bake for 1 hour.
4. Remove when golden brown and cool on wire rack.
This past week has been very cold, so cold that I have resorted to wearing my ski jacket everywhere. Maybe I am poorly tolerant of the cold. With the cold came a craving for warm comforting food. As usual I scanned my kitchen for something that could help with this desire and my eye was caught by a packet of lentils. So, having a husband of Spanish origin, the obvious answer was Spanish lentil stew. I consulted my friend, Google and was served up with this recipe. It was a pleasure to make and very very easy. The result was amazing, I am not exaggerating! It was so tasty, far more than I expected, in truth somehow I thought it would be pretty bland and oily. No, I was pleasantly, pleasantly surprised. I am very happy, I now have an easy to make go-to recipe under my sleeve.
1 ¾ cups of lentils
1 chorizo (9 oz), sliced
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1 medium onion, diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tbls of Spanish paprika (smoked or hot)
Olive oil for sautéing
Salt to taste
Biscotti, to me was the stuff of coffee shops and not something I would even dream of making. How misguided was I! I found a recipe in my Primrose Bakery book that rid me of that silly notion. It’s the first of the May Bank Holiday weekends and Saturday afternoon has found me at loose end (well I guess that is not exactly true – I am just avoiding the housework that needs doing) and the kitchen is call me to bake bake and bake.
The recipe I found was quite easy to follow, I bought myself a box of Rooibos Earl Grey tea and I was ready to go! The result is delicious. I will be nibbling away tomorrow with my morning coffee.
150g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons loose-leaf Earl Grey tea (or tea leaves from Earl Grey tea)
90g unsalted butter, at room temperature
115 golden caster sugar
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1. Preheat the oven to 180/160oC. Lightly grease a baking tray and line with parchment paper.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder together together into a bowl. Add the Earl Grey tea leaves and stir to combine. Set aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together in another bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and almond extract and beat until well combined.
4. Add the flour and tea mixture and mix until combined.
5. Shape the dough into a log about 5 – 6 cm wide and place it on the lined baking tray. Bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes, by which time it should be a light golden brown colour.
6. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 – 20 minutes. Do not turn the oven off. Place the log on a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut it on the diagonal into 1cm-thick slice. Place the slices back on the baking tray and put the tray into the oven.
7. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the biscotti over and bake for a further 10 – 15 minutes, until they are golden brown.
8. Transfer the biscotti on to a wire rack to cool completely.