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Eynsham Parish Council

Dishes for February

  • American pancakes with maple syrup and blueberries
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 15/02/2014

    These delicious pancakes stacked high and served with blueberries and syrup are quite different from the thin pancakes we toss on Shrove Tuesday. Their size and the addition of baking powder to the batter causes them to rise as they cook and the maple syrup that gradually soaks into the finished pancake adds a superb sweet touch to this dish. The secret to getting them right rests in the pan you use. They are best cooked with very little oil in a large non-stick pan in which at least four (7.5cm across) can be cooked at one time. A Ceracraft ceramic pan is perfect for the task.

    To make 8-12 or more you will need:

    6oz/200g self-raising flour

    1 tsp baking powder

    1 pinch salt

    1 free range egg

    300 ml milk

    1 oz/25g butter

    Vegetable oil for cooking

    150g pack blueberries

    Maple syrup.

    Method:

    Place flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.

    Break an egg into the milk, beat together then pour into the flour mix. You are aiming to produce a smooth thick batter.

    Melt the butter gently, but do not over heat it.

    Mix the butter into the batter and then stir in about half the blueberries.

    Heat your pan and add a little oil, but turn the heat down a little if the oil begins to smoke.

    Using a dessertspoon filled with the batter add four spoonful’s to the pan, taking care that they do not stick to each other. Cook for about three minutes and then turn with a palate knife to cook the other side.

    Stack in a pile while you continue to use up the batter, keeping the cooked pancakes warm with a clean cloth.

    As these pancakes taste best when eaten as soon as they are cooked, place remaining blueberries between them, pour on the warm maple syrup and serve straight away.

    Extra maple syrup can be offered in a jug to make them really special.

  • Rhubarb meringue pie
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 10/02/2014

    It’s the appearance of this dessert that makes it so special, that mix of the rhubarb’s red hue set against the creamy texture of the meringue can’t be beaten. And the taste of the tart rhubarb filling mingled with the soft sweet meringue is unsurpassed. Rhubarb meringue pie is certainly equal to the classic lemon meringue if made with those first pink sticks of rhubarb that begin appearing at this time of the year. If you are concerned that this dish calls for 4 egg whites, but not the yolks, why not offer your guests a choice of puddings by using them to cook an egg-rich crème caramel which will use them up?

    To serve 6-8 people you will need:

    8 oz/200g short crust pastry

    1lb 8oz/700g rhubarb

    Juice of 2 oranges

    Zest of 2 oranges

    Generous dash grenadine

    1oz/25g caster sugar to sweeten rhubarb & 6oz/175g for the meringue

    3 tbspn cornflour

    4 egg whites and two yolks.

    Method:

    Wash and trim the rhubarb and slice into reasonably small chunks and place in a saucepan along with the juice and the zest of the oranges along with a generous dash of grenadine to add extra sweetness and colour.

    Place lid on the pan and heat gently. You are aiming to cook the rhubarb, yet keep the pieces as whole as possible.

    When the rhubarb is cooked strain retaining the liquid for later.

    Turn the oven to 190°C / 375°F or gas mark 5.

    Roll out the pastry and line the pie dish, pressing it firmly against the sides of the dish before trimming to size.

    Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on top of the pastry, add baking beans to prevent the pastry from rising as it cooks and place pastry case in the oven until it begins to take on a soft brown colour round the edges. This should take about 20 minutes.

    Remove the paper and cooking beans and return to the oven for about five minutes to firm up the bottom.

    Spoon the cooked rhubarb into the pastry case and bring the liquid in which it cooked to the boil.

    Mix the cornflour with a little water and gradually add this mix to the pot as it boils, stirring all the time, until it thickens. Remove from the heat.

    Pour the thickened liquid over the rhubarb and prepare the meringue by whisking the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff.

    Once the egg whites are firm gradually add the caster sugar, spoonful at a time, whisking as you go until the egg whites take on a smooth gloss.

    Top the pie with the meringue and cook for about 20 minutes at 190°C / 375°F or gas mark 5 or until it takes on a delicious golden brown colour.

    Allow the meringue to settle before cutting into portions.

  • Pink champagne Valentine jelly
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 01/02/2014

    St Valentine’s day is special. It’s OK to spoil your partner and produce food which, if a little expensive, is nevertheless a real seductive treat.

    A jelly created from pink champagne, particularly if it is Taittinger which offers the sublime flavours of crushed wild raspberry, cherry and blackcurrant, offers elegant flavours that live up to the magic of the day.

    To serve 2 or 3 depending on size of the dish, you will need:

    10 fl oz/300ml hot, but not boiling water

    Dash grenadine

    2oz / 55g caster sugar

    16 fl oz /500 ml pink champagne

    4 leaves gelatine

    Small water melon - small heart shaped cutters.

    Method:

    Heat the water and sugar together in small saucepan on a low heat.

    When the sugar has dissolved raise the heat and bring to the boil.

    Once it is boiling reduce heat and simmer over low heat for about five minutes.

    Pour the champagne into a large bowl add a dash of grenadine to heighten the colour, also the leaves of gelatine. Leave the leaves of gelatine to soak for about 5 minutes and remove once they have become soft and squidgy.

    Squeeze as much of the liquid as you can from the leaves of gelatine and add them to the sugar syrup.

    Whisk vigorously until the gelatine leaves have dissolved then pour the mix into the champagne and whisk again.

    Slice the watermelon and cut small heart shaped pieces from the slices taking care to remove the pips as you go.

    Place the jelly into the fridge until it begins to set, then pour into attractive individual serving dishes in which you have placed heart shaped pieces of water melon as garnish.

    Cover the glasses with cling film so that the jelly does not absorb the fridge aromas and refrigerate for about four hours.

    Decorate by placing a watermelon heart on the side of the glass before serving.

  • Beef and beer casserole
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 28/01/2014

    The wonderful thing about cooking a casserole at this time of the year is that after spending 20 minutes (or less) preparing it, all you have to do is pop it into a low oven (160°C/320°F or Gas mark 2) for a couple of hours, then serve without further effort when the family return home needing a warm meal and nourishment.

    One of the great things about a dish such as this is that if you follow the basic principles for making a casserole such as browning the beef and vegetables before adding beer and stock, and then adding some vegetables such as mushrooms at the end you don’t need to do much else. How the dish turns out depends on your own personal touches as you really can make it up as you go, adding extra vegetables, herbs, lentils, even potatoes if you want to pad it out.

    To serve 4 to 6 people you will need:

    Half bottle Hobgoblin and 250 ml dark beef stock.

    2lb.4oz/ 1 kg diced braising beef

    A little oil to fry beef and vegetables

    1 oz flour

    2 medium onions fine chopped

    4 carrots sliced reasonably fine

    4 sticks celery rough chopped

    4 oz/ 100g chopped mushrooms

    400g tinned tomatoes - chopped

    1 dspn tomato purée

    2 bay leaves

    2 cloves garlic chopped

    2 sprigs fresh thyme

    4 sprigs parsley - chopped fine

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.

    Method:

    Turn the oven to 160°C/320°F or gas mark 2.

    Having diced the beef, scatter the cubes with flour.

    Place enough oil into a large frying pan to cover the bottom and heat.

    Once the oil reaches a high temperature add the diced beef and let it cook until it sizzles and begins to brown, then spoon into a large casserole dish.

    Now add the vegetables to frying pan, pouring in a little more oil if needed.

    Once the vegetables begin to brown, add them to the casserole dish along with the tinned tomatoes also the tomato paste, then the beer and stock.

    Stir well, add bay leaves, parsley and thyme leaves, season, and bring to the boil. Place a lid on top of the casserole dish, lower the heat and allow to simmer in the oven for about two hours.

    Taste, adjust seasoning and serve once the beef is cooked and the sauce flavoursome.

    If cooked 24 hours before needed you will find that the taste will have mellowed as the various flavours infuse into the into one another.

  • Melting chocolate puddings
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 24/01/2012

    February is the time to make the most of chocolate by serving warm individual chocolate puddings with a crusty top, soft sponge and a rich gooey chocolate centre. They can be cooked in small ramekin dishes, but slightly larger dishes which provide enough space for the pudding to rise without tumbling down the sides seem to work best.

    For 4 medium or 8 small puddings you will need:

    5oz (150g) self-raising flour

    2oz (50g) ground almonds

    4 tbspns cocoa powder

    4oz (110g) dark chocolate - grated

    7oz (200g) caster sugar

    5 fl oz (175ml milk)

    2oz (50g) melted butter

    1 free range egg - beaten

    Pinch salt

    1oz (25g) sliced almonds for garnish

    5oz (150g) dark muscovado sugar for the sauce

    3 tbspns cocoa powder for the sauce

    9 fl oz (250ml) boiling water for the sauce

    Method:

    Turn the oven onto 180°C / 160°F or Gas mark 4.

    Place the flour, ground almonds, cocoa powder, grated chocolate, salt and sugar in a large bowl and mix well together.

    Mix together the melted butter, milk and egg in a separate bowl, then stir into the dry mix.

    When the mixture is well-stirred, divide between the dishes.

    Mix the muscovado sugar and cocoa powder together and pour on the boiling water, stir well, then gently spoon this over the sponge mix. This might look rather alarming, but worry not, during the cooking process the sauce will gradually sink into the sponge to provide the delicious sticky chocolate centre.

    Toss a few sliced almonds over the top of each dish and bake for 20 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 170°C / 150°F or Gas mark 3 for a further ten minutes. When the top feels firm to the touch the puddings are done and should be served immediately with fresh cream.

  • Trout fish cakes
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 29/01/2012

    No trip to the Cotswolds is complete without visiting Bibury (just 40 minutes from Eynsham) and no trip to Bibury is complete without a visit to the Bibury Trout Farm and its little shop where fresh trout is on sale throughout the year. This trout is so fresh that it glistens, and so tasty that it cries out to be cooked.

    Now is the time to visit Bibury. If you wait until the summer you will find yourself having to compete for space with hundreds of tourists all there to see the town that William Morris rated as the most beautiful in England.

    To serve 2 people you will need:

    1 fillet of trout weighing in at about 8oz (250gm)

    2 medium sized potatoes that also weigh 8oz (250gm)

    1 free range egg yolk

    1oz (25gm) butter

    1 tablespoon of flour

    Small bunch of fresh parsley - chopped fine

    1 tablespoon oil to fry

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper corns to season.

    Method:

    Peel and slice the potatoes and boil in salted water until soft and place the trout fillet in a frying pan of salted water and cook over moderate heat until done.

    Mash the cooked potato with the butter, flour and egg yolk, until soft and creamy.

    Drain the fillet of trout on kitchen paper, carefully remove the skin and divide into flakes - throwing out any little bones you may discover.

    Gently mix the flakes of trout, flour and chopped parsley into the mashed potato, being careful not to crush the flakes, taste and adjust seasoning.

    Divide the mixture into four and place on a floured surface. Shape into 4 rounds - you can make them smaller if you wish.

    Heat the oil in a frying pan and carefully place the fish cake into the pan. Allow them to fry until brown on the underside, turn and cook the other side.

    Serve hot with a wedge of lemon and a fresh leaf salad.

  • Rack of lamb for a St Valentine’s dinner
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 14/01/2012

    The great thing about living in Eynsham is that I can walk into our local butchers and enjoy an animated conversation with butchers Paul and Martin while we decide what I can cook up for a romantic St Valentine dinner. This year it was decided the dish lamb would be great as lamb is synonymous with spring and spring is for lovers.

    Paul then took considerable trouble to trim two small racks of lamb, which it was decided would signify romance if they were cooked with the bones interlocking. The spinach was chosen for its colour and because it signifies strength and the little heart shaped potatoes were added just for fun, so were the white hats placed on the bones.

    To serve 2 people you will need:

    2 small racks of lamb, bones scraped clean

    4oz (100g) baby spinach leaves

    One large potato, sliced then shaped with heart shaped cutter (you can buy these cutters at The Emporium)

    Oil to fry potatoes

    Glass of red wine for the gravy sauce and same amount of stock

    Desert spoon of flour

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.

    Method:

    Turn the oven to 220°C / 425°F or gas mark 7 and only place the racks of lamb linked together into the oven on a baking tray when this temperature has been reached.

    Season with salt and freshly ground black peppercorn before placing in the oven.

    Allow 20 minutes at this temperature, then take the oven down to 190°C / 375°F or gas mark 5, allowing a further 20 minutes per lb (450g) once the first 20 minutes is up.

    Remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest while you wilt the spinach and fry the little heart shaped potatoes in hot oil until brown.

    Make the gravy by adding a dessert spoon of flour to the residue in the roasting pan and stir until it begins to brown.

    Toss in a glass of red wine and a glass of stock, stir and season, bring to boiling point and reduce by a third.

    Put the dish together as illustrated and open the champagne.

  • Spaghetti bolognaise
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 28/02/2010

    Now the bread shop has opened all our food shopping can be done in one small area of the village. I set myself the task of obtaining everything I needed for authentic spaghetti bolognaise without going out of the village for the ingredients.

    Thanks to the fact that the Co-op were selling fresh herbs, the new bread shop offering a superb selection of breads that I could use for the garlic bread to go with the main dish, and Sandy at Cornucopia providing a goodly stock of Parmesan cheese - my shopping was anxiety free.

    To serve 4-6 people you will need:

    One pound of freshly minced beef from Richard Golsby, Eynsham’s family butcher.

    4 rashers of back bacon from Richard Golsby

    3 cloves of garlic from the Co-op

    2 small onions from the Co-op

    8 mushrooms from the Co-op

    2 sticks of celery from the Co-op

    One pot of live basil from the Co-op

    1x135g tube tomato paste from the Co-op

    1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes from the Co-op

    Freshly picked oregano and marjoram from my own garden

    2 bay leaves from Cornucopia

    Olive oil from Cornucopia

    One wine glass of chicken/vegetable or beef stock

    Small block Parmesan cheese for garnish from Cornucopia

    One 400g pack of spaghetti from Cornucopia

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.

    For the garlic bread to go with the spaghetti:

    baguette from The Natural Bread Company

    2 oz soft local butter from Cornucopia

    2 cloves garlic - chopped fine.

    Method:

    Begin by chopping up all your vegetables into really small dice. This includes the garlic, mushrooms, onions, and celery. Chop the fresh herbs but not the basil. Also chop the bacon into small pieces.

    In a large frying pan pour enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan and bring to a high heat.

    When the oil is really hot toss in the bacon and cook until it begins to colour, then add the minced beef and cook for a further five minutes, stirring as you go.

    Add the chopped vegetables and chopped garlic to the pan, stir and allow to cook until the garlic begins to give off its delicious aroma.

    Squeeze the tube of tomato paste into the mix, stir, then add the tin of chopped tomatoes.

    Now add about a wine glass full of stock to the mix, adding more if you want a lot of sauce.

    Add the chopped fresh herbs and bay leaf - but not the basil - that goes at the end.

    Stir, taste, adjust seasoning and simmer for about 20 minutes with a lid on the pan.

    While the sauce is cooking prepare the garlic bread by chopping 2 cloves of garlic really fine and working them into the butter.

    Cut the baguette into slices about half an inch thick, spread the butter and garlic mix on both sides, lay the slices on a flat tray covered with a sheet of tinfoil, and place in a medium oven while the sauce cooks. (The tinfoil prevents the garlic aroma penetrating the tray and makes washing up easier).

    Remove the garlic bread from the oven when it begins to brown.

    While the sauce and garlic bread are cooking, place the dry spaghetti into a large pan of boiling salted water, stir as it softens and allow to simmer gently until cooked (approx 7 minutes). Strain, toss in a little olive oil to avoid the spaghetti sticking to itself, and keep warm.

    Break the basil into small bits and stir into the sauce then remove pan from the heat.

    Assemble by dividing the spaghetti between the plates, then spoon on the sauce. Garnish each plate with grated Parmesan cheese and serve with the hot garlic bread.

    NOTE: A mixed green salad goes well with this dish too.

  • Classic pancakes
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 26/01/2013

    The trick to making a perfect pancake is to allow the batter to rest once it has been mixed. Although an hour’s rest will do, by allowing it to sit in the refrigerator overnight you are guaranteed success.

    If you don’t need a dozen pancakes, make them anyway, and having placed a square of greaseproof paper between each one, carefully place the excess into the freezer for use another day.

    To make 12 pancakes you will need:

    8oz SR flour

    2 free range eggs

    600 ml milk

    ½ tsp salt

    ½ oz melted butter also butter to cook the pancakes

    2 lemons cut into wedges for garnish

    Caster sugar to scatter on finished pancakes.

    Method:

    Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the salt.

    Make a well in the middle of the flour and beat in the eggs.

    Pour the milk into the mix and whisk until it becomes a smooth batter and all lumps have gone.

    Pour in the melted butter and mix again.

    Allow to rest, preferably overnight if possible.

    Place a frying pan onto the stove and turn the heat up high.

    Add a little butter to the pan.

    When the butter has dissolved pour in enough batter to cover the base of the pan and allow it to settle.

    Using a palate knife test by turning a little of the pancake at edge to see if it is done on the underside after a few moments. If it has turned a delicious brown, flip it over with the knife unless you feel confident enough to try and toss it, which is great fun if you can get that right, but a messy procedure if you don’t.

    Continue cooking the pancakes on each side, placing them in a pile, with a sheet of greaseproof paper between each one for ease of handling when they are done.

    Serve warm, scatter caster sugar over them and garnish with lemon wedges.

  • Apple pancakes
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 02/09/2009

    With Shrove Tuesday coming up shortly, it’s time to get the non-stick frying pan out and begin thinking pancakes, which are so delicious and easy to make you can eat them throughout the year.

    The secret to a good pancake batter that turns out light and crisp is ‘time’. Leave the batter to rest for at least a half an hour before frying and success is assured.

    Whilst pancakes are traditionally enjoyed with lemon and sugar, I have filled these with cooked Bramley apples, then topped them with sugar.

    To make roughly 8 pancakes you will need:

    4oz (125g) plain flour

    1 egg - beaten

    Half pint milk (300ml)

    Pinch salt

    Vegetable oil to fry pancakes

    2 large Bramley apples

    Caster sugar to sweeten apples and dust pancakes.

    Method:

    Place flour and salt in bowl and add the egg and beat together with a wooden spoon.

    Gradually add the milk, beating well until all lumps have vanished.

    Leave the batter to rest for at least 30 minutes. Use this time to peel, core, slice and stew the apples with a little water and sugar to taste.

    The trick to cooking pancakes is to ensure that the pan is really hot and that there is only enough oil in the bottom to grease the surface. This can be achieved by pouring off surplus oil from the pan before adding the pancake batter.

    Pour just enough batter into a seven-inch pan to coat the surface, turning it all ways until the base is lightly covered.

    Cook for about two minutes, or until the bottom begins to brown, then carefully turn over. Cook the second side until begins to brown and then transfer onto a warm plate while you cook the next one.

    Repeat, oiling the pan each time, until all the batter is used up, piling the pancakes on top of each other, with a sheet of greaseproof paper between to stop them sticking together.

    Serve by folding each one in half, adding a spoonful of the cooked apple and folding once more.

    Scatter a little caster sugar on top and serve two per portion.

  • St Valentine breakfast
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 03/02/2010

    You don’t have to spend a fortune when serving up a St Valentine breakfast, but as love can be expressed through the gift of food, it’s worth seeking out fresh local ingredients and making a bit of an effort to get it right.

    This recipe is a very simple twist on the classic eggs Benedict which calls for hollandaise sauce, muffins and grilled bacon. Should you wish to glamorise this dish even further, hollandaise sauce would pep it up nicely.

    For two people you will need:

    2 local free range eggs

    One 225g bag baby leafed spinach

    Salt to season

    One heart shaped pastry cutter (available at Eynsham Emporium).

    Method:

    Wash the spinach leaves in cold running water and place in a saucepan with a small pinch of salt. It will not be necessary to add further water.

    Allow the spinach leaves to simmer for a few moments until wilted.

    When the spinach is cooked, drain and keep warm while you poach the eggs.

    Heat an inch of water in a frying pan. (Do not salt the water as this tends to affect the look of the egg white – sprinkle the egg with salt once it is cooked).

    When a steady stream of bubbles can be seen rising to the surface of the pan, place the heart shaped cutter into the water, holding it in place while you break the egg into it.

    Place a lid on the pan and cook for 2 minutes, or until the egg is done.

    Place the egg onto the spinach and serve with toast and hollandaise sauce if you want to make a real effort to serve a really romantic breakfast.

  • Broccoli and blue cheese soup
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 15/02/2009

    Traditionally it should be broccoli and Stilton soup, but actually this classic can be made with most blue cheeses, except perhaps gorgonzola which is rather salty. If you are looking for some exceptional blue cheese, do try Eynsham’s amazing deli Cornucopia - you will not be disappointed.

    For 4-6 people you will need:

    12oz (350g) broccoli

    One medium onion - rough chopped

    2pts (1.1ltrs) vegetable or chicken stock

    2 large potatoes - peeled and diced small

    Sunflower oil

    4fl oz (115ml) milk

    4oz 125g) blue cheese

    Cream to garnish (optional)

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.

    Method:

    Rough chop the broccoli, reserving a handful of small pieces for garnish.

    Cook the broccoli intended for garnish in a small pan of salted water, until reasonably soft, remove from the water and reserve.

    Using a pan large enough to contain the soup, gently sweat the rest of the broccoli, the chopped onion and potato in a little sunflower oil, until soft (but not cooked right through) then add the stock.

    Bring to full heat them simmer for a further 15 minutes then remove from the heat and puree in a liquidizer when cool enough to handle. (For an extra smooth finish pass the soup through a sieve).

    Return to a clean pan, add milk, crumble in the cheese and take it back to full heat.

    Taste, adjust seasoning and serve, garnishing each bowl with the small pieces of broccoli and a swirl of cream if you have some to hand.

  • Lancashire hot-pot
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 02/02/2009

    This is one of those really easy recipes that doesn’t take a moment to put together if you have all the ingredients to hand. I like adding masses of fresh herbs to the pot and as many vegetables as I can find, because at this time of the year, we need the nutrients that they provide. So take the vegetables listed as a guide only and use your imagination, by adding if you have them.

    For 4 people you will need:

    4 thick lamb chump chops - trimmed of excess fat

    2 carrots - diced

    2 sticks celery - rough chopped

    2 onions sliced

    1 leek – rough chopped

    4 large potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled

    Handful of fresh herbs if you have any - chopped fine

    1½ pts ( 900ml) lamb or vegetable stock

    1 oz (25g) butter

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season

    Parsley leaves chopped fine as garnish when cooked.

    Method:

    Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F or Gas Mark 6

    Prepare the vegetables, cutting the scrubbed potatoes into slices aprox an 1/8th of an inch thick. (I keep the peel on for extra roughage, but you can peel them if you wish).

    Place the chops in the bottom of a casserole dish, then add the chopped herbs, carrots, celey, onions and leek and season.

    Top up with stock, until all are covered. Now layer the potatoes on top of the vegetables, overlapping them as you go.

    Cut the butter into small cubes and scatter on top of the potatoes, scattering a little salt and pepper on the top too.

    Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

    Place in the oven without a lid and allow to cook for about an hour, or until the potatoes are a delicious golden brown and the liquid is bubbling.

  • Steamed black cap pudding
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 09/02/2010

    As the cold weather continues, even though the snowdrops are beginning to bloom, warm, filling puddings should still be on the menu. This sponge pudding is so easy to cook, that it is well worth making while this chilly weather persists.

    You will need:

    1 tbspn black treacle

    6oz (175g) self raising flour

    6oz (175g) soft light brown sugar

    1 rounded tspn baking powder

    6oz (175g) softened butter

    3 free range eggs

    Small pinch salt

    4oz (125g) currants

    3 tbspns golden syrup

    Butter to grease pudding bowl.

    Method:

    Grease a pudding basin with butter and pour the golden syrup into it, also the currants.

    Place the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk together with an electric mixer if you have one, until you have a really smooth creamy mix and thoroughly blended. Remember it is important that the butter is really soft before adding it to the other ingredients or you will be in trouble.

    Spoon the sponge mixture into the bowl on top of the golden syrup and currants.

    Place a circle of greaseproof paper on top of the sponge, then a sheet of tinfoil, making a pleat in the centre, to allow the sponge space to rise as it cooks.

    Secure the foil in place with a piece of string, making yourself a handle from the string so that the pudding is easy to remove when cooked.

    Place in a saucepan filled with enough warm water to go half way up the bowl and steam over a gentle heat for about two hours with a lid secured in place. Check the water level every half an hour and top up with more water if needed.

    Remove pudding from the pot when cooked and having loosened it from the bowl with a palette knife, invert onto a warm plate.

    If you want a really syrupy pudding, pour a little more warmed syrup over the top before serving.

  • Poached eggs with winter vegetables
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 14/02/2009

    This is a supper dish I cooked up quickly when an unexpected guest turned up who was obviously hungry. It’s actually a very good way of using up those vegetables stored in the bottom of the fridge that have been stored a little too long. I have listed the vegetables I used that night, but obviously others can be added if you have them to hand.

    For one hungry visitor you will need:

    2 free range eggs

    Half a large potato

    Half a large carrot

    One large mushroom or several small ones

    2 sprigs of purple sprouting

    Half an onion

    Oil to fry

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper to season.

    Method:

    Slice the potato, carrot, mushrooms and onion into thin strips.

    Cut away any stem from the purple sprouting so that only the floret remains.

    Add enough oil to cover the bottom of small frying pan and toss in all the vegetables except the mushrooms.

    Season the vegetables and fry over hot heat until the vegetable strips begin to soften, stirring often as you go.

    Stir in the mushrooms and allow them to cook for a moment, then make a well in the centre and break two eggs into the dish.

    Place a lid onto the pan and allow to simmer until the eggs are cooked.

    Serve with warm bread.

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