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Eynsham Parish Council

Dishes for March

  • Crunchy spring salad
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 09/03/2014

    After putting up with those wretched winter storms when hot soup, casseroles and pies were the order of the day, the weather patterns appear to be changing. It’s time to turn to salads once more. Using batons of celery as the base for this crunchy spring mixture you have a good base for a salad that celebrates the arrival of spring and to which almost anything crunchy can be added. The mouth-feel of this salad is wonderful, particularly if you enjoy munching your way through a bowl of crisp crunchy flavours. Serve it as a lunch dish, or an accompaniment to a main meal - either way you will enjoy it, especially if you serve it while some of the ingredients are still warm.

    To serve 2 people you will need:

    4 sticks of celery

    4oz/1250g sugar snap peas

    4 slices back bacon

    2oz/ 50g pine nuts

    ½ oz/ 10g butter to fry pinenuts

    ½ oz butter to cook the croutons

    ¼ red chilli chopped fine

    2 thick cut slices sourdough bread

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Vinaigrette sauce.

    Method:

    Slice the celery sticks into thin batons about 2 inches long and place into a large bowl.

    Melt ½ oz of butter in a small pan and gently fry the pine nuts and the red chilli pieces, stirring until the nuts turn a delicious golden brown. Remove from the pan and add to the celery.

    Immerse the sugar snap peas in a small pan of boiling water and allow to cook for just a couple of minute – just long enough to soften very slightly but not too much. Cool under the cold tap to stop them cooking further and add to the salad bowl.

    Grill the bacon slices until brown and crunchy, cut into small pieces and add to the salad bowl.

    Cut the bread into small squares and gently fry in butter over a medium heat, stirring from time to time until they are golden brown. Turn out onto kitchen paper to absorb the butter and toss into the salad mix.

    Stir all together, season with freshly ground black pepper and salt, then coat with a little vinaigrette sauce.

  • Banana cake
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 19/03/2013

    Almost 100 million metric tonnes of bananas are consumed every year, making them the fourth most important food staple in the world. Sadly, only about 20% of the prices paid by consumers in supermarkets reach the exporting country and only a small fraction of the total revenue generated by this crop goes to the farmers who produce them. However farmers whose crop bears the Fairtrade certification are guaranteed a minimum price to cover the cost of sustainable production. Given the glorious taste of these superb fruits - that’s not much to ask, is it?

    You will need:

    8oz (225g) self raising flour

    4oz (110g) soft butter

    1lb (450g) ripe bananas

    6oz (175g) caster sugar

    2 large eggs

    4 oz (110g) sultanas

    ½ tspn mixed spice

    Pinch salt

    Method:

    Turn the oven to 180°C / 350°F or gas mark 4 and prepare a 1 ½ lb loaf tin for baking, either by placing a paper baking case in the tin or by oiling it inside and tossing flour on the oiled surface to enable easy release when cooked.

    Place flour, butter, sugar, mixed spice and salt into a large mixing bowl and work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sultanas.

    In the food processor place the skinned bananas along with the eggs and mix until you have a moist paste. (The softer the bananas, the better the taste - this is a fantastic way of using up soft overripe bananas).

    Stir the banana mix into the dry mixture to form a dough of dropping consistency then spoon into the cake tin and cook for an hour and 10 minutes.

    Remove from the oven and allow to settle for at least ten minutes.

    This cake tastes particularly good when spread with butter.

  • Green leaf stir-fry
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 11/03/2012

    While visiting Charlbury Farmer’s Market I found myself filling my shopping bag with Swiss chard, Cavolo Nero, which is the strong flavoured Italian cabbage, a savoy cabbage and a bunch of purple sprouting - because they looked so fresh. I had no idea what I was going to do with all these glorious green vegetables, but knew I would sort that out when I got home.

    I ended up creating a stir-fry flavoured with fresh chilli, ginger and garlic, allowing the Cavolo to be the dominating vegetable, and served it alongside a grilled pork chop. It was delicious.

    To serve 4 people as a side dish you will need:

    1lb (450g) assorted green leaves to include Cavolo Nero, Swiss chard, Savoy cabbage - also a few heads of purple sprouting.

    1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped fine

    1 clove garlic - chopped fine

    Lump of fresh ginger the size of a walnut, peeled and chopped fine

    1 dspn sesame seeds

    Vegetable oil to fry leaves

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.

    Method:

    Slice the green leaves really fine, chop the purple sprouting.

    Pour enough oil into a large frying pan to cover the bottom and toss in the chopped chilli pieces, allow to fry at a gentle heat for about a minute, then remove the chilli pieces with a slotted spoon and discard. This will add a sense of heat to the oil which is tasty but not overpowering.

    Add the garlic, sesame seeds and ginger to the pan and fry gently for another minute, then stir in the sliced green leaves.

    Do not leave this pan, but continue to stir until the green leaves soften which really doesn’t take long - certainly no more than five minutes if you have chopped them really fine.

    Season with a little salt and ground black pepper corns and serve with hot or cold meat or fish, as an extra vegetable.

    This recipe is destined for publication in the Oxford Times on 22 March - you saw it here first!

  • Rhubarb & orange meringue pie
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 26/02/2012

    Who can possibly resist those first pink shoots of rhubarb that are pushing themselves through the soil at the moment - irresistible especially when flavoured with oranges. This recipe is inspired by Delia Smith who turned a meringue classic into a spring treat. My mistake in my enthusiasm to photograph it while it danced with life was to cut into the dish before the filling had set properly - but it still tasted superb.

    You will need:

    8oz (225g) short crust pastry made with butter

    1 ½ lb (700g) rhubarb

    Juice and zest from 3 oranges

    3oz (75g) caster sugar

    3 tbspns cornflour

    3 egg yolks - beaten

    3 egg whites for the meringue

    6oz (175g) caster sugar for the meringue.

    Method:

    Prepare the pastry and place in the refrigerator for half an hour.

    Grease a 9" (23cm) baking tin and turn the oven to 190°C / 375°F or gas mark 5.

    Line the tin with the pastry and prick the base with a fork to prevent the pastry from rising. Bake for about 20/25 mins or until it begins to brown.

    Cut the rhubarb into finger sized chunks and cook gently with the juice and zest of one orange and 3oz of the sugar until soft but still whole. Remove from the heat.

    Squeeze the juice of the remaining two oranges into a saucepan, along with the zest of one (you need the zest of the second one to garnish the meringue).

    Pour a little of the orange juice into the cornflour and mix to a paste.

    While the pastry is cooked, bring the orange juice to simmering point and gently stir in the cornflour until the mixture thickens.

    Strain the juice from the cooked rhubarb into the mixture and then whisk in the egg yolks with a balloon whisk to reduce the possibility of lumps. Now tip the cooked rhubarb into the mix and stir again. Remove from the heat.

    Whisk the egg whites until they form peeks and then gradually add the caster sugar, stirring as you go, until all the sugar has been absorbed and the mix is smooth and glossy.

    Assemble the dish by pouring the rhubarb mix into the cooked pastry case, then top with the meringue. Grate the zest of one orange over the top for garnish and extra colour.

    Return the dish to the oven and cook for about 20 minutes or until the meringue begins to brown and set. Allow at least two hours before cutting.

  • Rhubarb sorbet
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 24/02/2012

    March is the month when rhubarb begins pushing its way through the earth. If you are a gardener and have covered your rhubarb crown with a tall rhubarb forcing pot, you will no doubt be picking some delicious pink shoots by now.

    Because the early shoots are so succulent and such a treat, being the first of the season’s fruits, this sorbet recipe is an ideal way of using them.

    To serve 6 people you will need:

    1½ lb (650g) rhubarb stalks

    1lb (450g) granulated sugar

    Juice of one orange

    Juice of two lemons

    1 tsp vanilla extract.

    Dash of grenadine (optional but it does add extra colour if needed)

    Method:

    Begin by making the sugar syrup, which needs to be cooled before used for this recipe. Do this by placing the sugar into a saucepan along with 600ml warm water and slowly bring the liquid to the boil.

    Boil for a couple of minutes and allow to cool.

    Prepare the rhubarb by cutting into short strips and simmering them with the orange juice, keeping a lid on the pot as it cooks.

    Allow to cool once it is tender, then zap through a blender along with the sugar syrup to obtain a smooth mix. You can strain it at this point if you want to, but it tastes just as good with little bits in it.

    Add half the lemon juice and the vanilla extract, taste, adjust with more lemon juice to suit your palate - do be cautious with the lemon juice as frozen foods are best if slightly over-sweet. This is the point where you can add a drop of two of grenadine if you want to improve the colour.

    Pour the mix into a plastic container and freeze for a couple of hours, then remove from freezer and beat with a hand mixer until all broken up.

    Place back into the freezer and repeat the process a couple of times more or until you are happy with the texture.

    Keep stored in the freezer until needed, removing it about 20 minutes before required to allow it to soften slightly.

    Looks great if served with a little poached rhubarb on the side and a sprig of mint to garnish.

  • Almond Soup Elizabeth II
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 12/03/2011

    This is one of two soups with an Anglo Indian influence that will be served at the Oxford Literary Festival Dinner at Christ Church this year.

    It is the soup that was served to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II on her inaugural visit to India in 1962 at the Ashoka Hotel, New Delhi. The Chef de Cuisine at the time was Monsieur Moncourt who adapted this ancient recipe for the occasion.

    Almond soup is found in both Persian cuisine and ours, first appearing in our cookery during the reign of Elizabeth 1. This recipe has been adapted for the dinner by food historian Anne Menzies. I was not sure it would work when I first began cooking it up, but it does. I was so delighted with the flavour I decided to add it to the Eynsham collection - with due homage to Anne of course - as leeks are particularly abundant at this time of the year.

    To serve 6 people you will need:

    6oz (170g) white of leeks, washed and finely chopped

    6oz (170g) ground almonds

    1 ½ pts (850ml) good chicken stock

    1oz (28g) butter

    4 - 6 fl oz (112ml) Madeira to taste

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season

    Snipped chives, parsley or coriander to garnish.

    Method:

    Wash, then finely chop the leeks and fry gently in the butter until they become transparent. Do not allow to brown as this is a white soup.

    Add the ground almonds and chicken stock.

    Simmer gently for at least 45 minutes, maybe more, until the almonds are soft and no longer gritty.

    Put through a blender and then a sieve so that it becomes really smooth.

    Return the soup to the pan, adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black peppercorns and Madeira. Garnish with snipped chives, parsley or coriander.

    Serve with Melba toast and butter.

  • Omelette Arnold Bennett
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 09/03/2010

    The Arnold Bennett omelette first appeared on the Savoy Hotel menu in the 1930’s and is named after the novelist of the same name who stayed there while writing his novel Imperial Palace. He enjoyed this fluffy open-faced omelette so much the Savoy chefs served it to him every day. He then demanded it wherever he travelled, which is why it appears on menus throughout the world.

    Thanks to Rodger Wydall's fish van that visits Eynsham every Wednesday morning, standing opposite the post office from 9 am, smoked haddock, the prime ingredient needed for this delicious omelette is readily available once a week. Yes - it is a bit more complicated than ordinary omelettes but I believe that the extra effort is worth while, particularly if you are cooking for an elderly person whose taste buds yearn for really tasty dishes that are easy to eat.

    To serve two people you will need:

    8oz (225g) smoked haddock - skin and bones removed

    3 tbspns crème fraiche

    5 free range eggs

    ½ level tsp cornflour

    2oz (50g) grated cheese

    1 tspn vegetable oil

    Teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper corns to season

    Method:

    Heat the crème fraiche gently in a saucepan, add the haddock and simmer for about five minutes or until haddock is cooked. Remove the fish from the liquid with a slotted spoon and bring the liquid back to simmering point

    Break one egg and separate white from yolk and beat the corn flour into the yolk. Pour the fish liquid onto the yolk, stir then return to the saucepan and stir again over gentle heat until it thickens. Remove from heat and fold in the haddock having broken it into pieces.

    Whisk the egg white until it begins to thicken and fold carefully into the fish mixture and lightly season the mix.

    Beat the other four eggs. Heat oil in an omelette pan, swirling it round so that it coats both base and sides and is at full heat, then add the beaten eggs. Stir for a moment then drop the heat a little and allow the omelette to set.

    Spread the haddock mix over the firm surface of the omelette then sprinkle cheese and chopped parsley on top.

    Place the omelette under a hot grill and allow it to cook for about two minutes or until it bubbles and turns a delicious golden brown. Serve warm, having let it settle for a moment.

  • Cake for Mothering Sunday
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 24/02/2012

    Although you could buy a ready-made cake to celebrate Mothering Sunday, most mothers would be thrilled to discover that the cake set before them on their special day had been cooked by the family.

    You will need:

    2x7″ baking tins for sponge sandwich

    4 free range eggs

    4 oz (120g) caster sugar

    4 oz (120g) plain flour

    2 oz 50g) melted butter

    Jam for the filling

    450 ml double cream

    4 oz (100g) quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces.

    Method:

    Turn the oven to 180°C / 350°F or Gas mark 4.

    Line the cake tins with a circle of grease-proof paper.

    Using an electric hand beater whisk together the sugar and eggs until the mix becomes thick enough to lay a trail on the surface. If beating them by hand, it is best to do this in a bowl suspended in a saucepan of simmering water, as this speeds up the process which will take about 10 minutes.

    Place the flour in the sieve and shake it over the mixture to dust the top, pouring a little of the melted butter in too.

    Fold the flour in gently and continue adding flour and butter until all absorbed.

    Divide the mixture between the two tins and cook until they turn golden brown and the cake is beginning to shrink away from the edges.

    When cooked allow them to settle in their tins for about five minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and remove the greaseproof paper.

    Spread a generous layer of jam on one slice and whip up 300 ml of the cream and spread that on top of the jam and sandwich the two pieces together.

    Pour the rest of the cream into a saucepan, bring to the boil then remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate pieces.

    Gradually pour the warm chocolate mixture on top of the cake. It should settle to a smooth finish without need to do anything more. Do try and let the chocolate pour down the sides for special effect and decorate with sugar roses.

  • Cauliflower soup spiced with Thai green curry paste
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 25/02/2012

    This delicious soup was inspired by the Women's Institute book Soup for all Seasons, which is a glorious collection of easy-to-make soups using seasonal ingredients and home cooking skills. The beauty of this soup is it uses cauliflower as the basic vegetable as it lends itself to being spiced up with Thai ingredients. An ideal soup for the chilly days leading up to spring.

    To serve 4 people you will need:

    A little oil to fry onions

    1 medium onion chopped fine

    1 tbspn Thai green curry paste

    1 medium potato diced fine

    1 medium cauliflower broken into florets

    400ml can coconut milk

    ½ pt (300ml) vegetable stock

    Half bunch fresh coriander leaves - chopped fine

    Pinch salt

    Spring onions to garnish.

    Method:

    Gently sweat the onion in a large saucepan with a little oil, stirring now and again to stop it sticking.

    Add the green Thai paste, stir well and cook for about a minute, enjoying its aroma as you wait.

    Pour in the coconut milk and the stock, stir and bring to the boil.

    Add the diced potato and cauliflower florets and simmer for about 15 minutes.

    Cool the soup a little, add the coriander and zap half of the soup in a liquidizer to obtain a smooth finish. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly.

    Stir this liquid back into the pan and heat through. What you will now have is a very tasty smooth soup with chunky bits too that makes much of a very versatile winter vegetable. Serve garnished with coriander and / or spring onions.

  • Turkey slices and mushrooms
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 17/03/2011

    By using chestnut mushrooms for this dish you are ensured of a firm tasty mushroom which will add much to the dish.

    To serve 4 people you will need:

    8 slices of turkey breast

    1 medium onion - chopped fine

    2 cloves garlic - chopped fine

    8oz (250g) chestnut mushrooms - quartered

    Small bunch fresh parsley - chopped fine

    10oz (300g ) crème fraîche

    Tbspn brandy (optional but nice)

    2 tbspns vegetable oil & a slither of butter to fry

    Flour to dust turkey breasts

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season

    Method:

    Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan, and fry the turkey slices, having dusted them with seasoned flour first.

    When the turkey slices begin to brown, remove from the pan and keep warm , and add onions and garlic to the pan, adding a little more oil if needed (but only a little). Cook until the onions begin to soften.

    Add the mushroom pieces to the pan, and cook gently, stirring often – they will not take long to cook.

    Add the crème fraîche to the dish, stir in well, allowing it to bubble before turning down the heat. Add the parsley too.

    If you would like to pep the dish up a little carefully stir in a dash of brandy, otherwise just season with salt and freshly ground black peppercorns.

    Return the turkey slices to the pan, allow them to heat through, then serve. If served with curly kale pieces or other green vegetables you will achieve a fine balance of colour and flavour.

  • Mushroom potatoes
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 17/03/2009

    This recipe is a great way of adding flavour to a mashed potato mix. It can work as a main vegetarian course, or as a side dish to go with main course. You will notice I have created a mashed potato shell filled with chopped mushrooms, also a large mushroom filled with mashed potato. Make both or either, as they taste great and add a touch of colour to a meal.

    To serve 4 people you will need:

    4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced

    4oz button mushrooms, chopped fine

    4 spring onions chopped fine

    1oz butter for the potatoes

    1oz butter to cook mushrooms

    1 egg yolk

    Milk to soften mashed potato mix

    One beaten egg for egg wash

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.

    For the stuffed mushrooms

    One large mushroom for each person

    One dessertspoon mashed potato per person

    Egg wash.

    Method:

    To create the mushroom potatoes, boil the sliced potatoes in salted water until well cooked, drain the water and mash with the butter, egg yolk and as much milk as needed to make a soft mix. Taste and season.

    Using a piping bag fitted with a star shaped nozzle, filled with the potato mash, pipe out a ring of mashed potato on an oiled baking tray and build it up to form a nest approximately 3 inches in diameter.

    Gently brush the nest with egg wash and bake in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes, or until the potato begins to turn golden brown.

    While the potatoes are browning, cook the chopped mushrooms and spring onions in one ounce of butter until soft, season and keep warm.

    Remove the potato nests from the oven when cooked and fill with chopped mushroom mix.

    To create the mushrooms stuffed with mashed potato, simply rub oil into large mushrooms, season, fill with mashed potato and gently brush the potato with egg wash. Cook on baking tray alongside the potato nests until golden brown.

  • Mushroom soup
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 21/03/2010

    One of the wonderful things about soup is that you really can make it up as you go, but as Sophie Grigson famously said: “A soup is only as good as the ingredients that go into it, you can use up the various left over bits at the back of the fridge - but only if they are still fresh and full of taste.”

    At this time of the year, when the temperature rises and falls continually, and you suddenly need to come up with a warm nourishing meal a basic soup recipe can become a satisfying meal in seconds if you have a few slices of bacon that can act as a garnish.

    To serve 4 people you will need:

    8oz (250g) mushrooms

    1 medium onion

    1 clove garlic

    3oz (75g) butter

    1oz (25g) flour

    ½ pt milk

    ½ pt chicken or vegetable stock

    Handful fresh parsley - chopped fine

    Few sprigs marjoram - chopped fine

    4 slices bacon - grilled to a crisp and chopped

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.

    Method:

    Chop mushrooms as fine as you can, reserving 4 for garnish.

    Chop onion and garlic fine.

    Melt 2oz (50g) of the butter in saucepan, add onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook gently over medium heat until onions are soft.

    Stir in the flour and then gradually stir in the milk and the stock, toss in the chopped parsley and marjoram, season and simmer over a low heat.

    While the soup is simmering, (will only take a few moments to cook), grill the bacon until crisp and chop into small pieces.

    Slice the reserved mushrooms fine and cook gently in the remaining butter until soft.

    At this point you can either keep the soup as it is, or zap it into a puree in a liquidizer.

    Serve garnished with the bacon and sliced mushrooms and serve with crunchy bread.

  • Lamb noisettes on minted cabbage
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 05/03/2009

    Noisettes of lamb are the eye of a lamb loin that has been trimmed of all fat and formed into miniature lamb fillets.

    They are a little more expensive than other cuts of lamb, but well worth seeking out as they look good and taste absolutely scrumptious. Ask Richard Golsby, Eynsham’s family butcher about them, he will certainly agree and be more than happy to cut and prepare them while you wait.

    Because there is a glut of exceptionally good cabbage around at the moment, and because cabbage goes particularly well with lamb, this is one way of putting the two together.

    To serve 2 people you will need:

    4 noisettes of lamb

    1 small cabbage

    1 tspn of mint sauce - preferably home made

    Two dspns redcurrant jelly

    Flour to dust the noisettes

    Oil to fry

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.

    Method:

    Slice the cabbage thin, retaining small outer leaves for garnish.

    Toss the noisettes in seasoned flour and fry gently in a little oil.

    While the lamb is cooking, gently boil both the sliced cabbage and outer leaves if you wish to use them, in salted water until cooked - taking care not to overcook as cabbage tastes better if it still has a bite to it.

    When the noisettes are cooked, remove to a warm place to rest for a moment while you make the sauce.

    Do this by adding two tablespoons redcurrant jelly to the reside of the pan in which you fried the noisettes and bring to full heat.

    Add about a wineglass full of water to the pan, bring to full boil and allow to bubble until reduced by a third. Taste and adjust seasoning.

    Strain the cabbage, remove the outer leaves and mix the rest with the mint sauce, taste and add a little more mint sauce if you feel it is needed.

    Assemble the dish, by first placing the outer leaves on each plate, then divide the sliced cooked cabbage on top.

    Place the noisettes on top of the cabbage, and gently pour the sauce over each one.

  • Breast of lamb with apricots
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 27/03/2010

    Breast of lamb is one of the cheapest cuts of meat you can buy, yet it roasts easily and is simply delicious.

    For this recipe I have used verjuice to provide that extra flavour. Verjuice is a flavour enhancer based on the juice of unripe grapes, thinned from the vine to encourage the remaining grapes to flourish. It became popular in medieval times, but was eventually superseded by lemons: read more >>

    As verjuice shares the same acid base as wine it is a perfect alternative to vinegar when cooking lamb dishes, particularly if serving wine with lunch.

    To serve 2 people you will need:

    One breast of lamb weighing approx 1lb - bones removed

    4 oz (125g) dried apricots

    1 clove garlic - chopped fine

    100 ml verjuice

    1 tsp flour

    Several sprigs rosemary

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season

    Method:

    Chop the apricots in half, mix with the chopped garlic, place in a bowl and cover with the verjuice and leave to marinate for a couple of hours or overnight.

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

    Trim any excess fat from the breast of lamb, lay it flat, skin side down, strain the apricots (retain the liquid) and scatter them over the meat, and roll tightly, securing with string both ends of the joint.

    Lay in baking tray on top of the rosemary sprigs, rub salt into the skin and cook for about an hour, or until the meat begins to golden and crisp up.

    Remove rosemary and lamb from the pan, allow the meat to rest while you make the gravy. Do this by placing the baking dish that contains the residue of the cooking juices over a high heat, then stirring in the flour until it begins to brown.

    Add the marinade juices and the same amount of water, bring to the boil, check seasoning then strain.

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