All About Blackberries

 

Recently it has been all about blackberries in our household. My little boy loves them; he is surprisingly good at spotting even the smallest blackberry patch and despite the thorns he is able to pick them himself. Every walk we go on he is looking out for blackberries! I’m pleased he likes them as they are packed full of vitamin C. In fact, this blog is inspired entirely by my boy, who suggested to his Nanny and I that blackberries and ice cream would be a good idea, we were suitably impressed – 2 years old and a chef in the making. His first own contribution to my blog.

If you want to have some fruit for free use blackberries, they are growing everywhere at the moment. If you do get out and pick some here are some ideas for your blackberries:

  1. Heat blackberries with a few teaspoons of water and sugar in a saucepan til soft, pour over ice cream.
  2. Add berries to breakfast cereal.
  3. Make blackberry jam.
  4. Stew apples and blackberries in a saucepan, add custard to make delicious fruit fool.
  5. Mock Trifle – this recipe of mine combines chocolate and blackberries.
  6. Cook rich meat such as duck or venison and add blackberries to the pan with red wine for a delicious sauce.
  7. Add berries to both plain and fruit yogurt to add some extra vitamins.
  8. Use blackberries to top a pavlova.
  9. Blackberries are great added to a pear or apple crumble.
  10. Whiz blackberries in a blender with yogurt and milk to make a smoothie.
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Spaghetti with Fried Eggs

Necessity is the mother of invention. After I had been on holiday in Norfolk and had no meal plans to fall back on. Instead, I looked in the fridge and my store cupboard and found two useful ingredients – spaghetti and eggs. Well, a quick search on google and I found a recipe for spaghetti and fried eggs, at first I thought this was a crazy idea! However,  I needed to put lunch on the table and eggs are really healthy for you – read about that here.  It was delicious! My little boy loved it, whereas he normally shies away from eating egg, served like this he ate it all.

Here’s the recipe:

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 150g spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • Large handful of chopped parsley
  • Ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta as per instructions on the packet, meanwhile prepare the sauce.
  2. Heat the oil and garlic in a large frying pan for approx 2 mins.
  3. Crack the eggs into the frying pan and cook until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny.
  4. Pour cooked and drained spaghetti into the frying pan, mix well and break up the egg white as you stir.
  5. Mix in chopped parsley and black pepper.
  6. Serve with some freshly grated Parmesan.

You could serve this with a tomatoe and rocket salad if you want to add some vegetables to this meal.

Original recipe from the New York Times.

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Easy Chicken Curry

Here is a recipe which is popular at home. You can cook this in a saucepan or try using a slow cooker; you can prepare your meal early and have a tasty meal ready when you get home from work.

Chicken Curry

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 3 sliced chicken breasts (or use any left over chicken from the Sunday Roast)
  • 1 finely chopped celery stick
  • 1 carrot finely chopped
  • 1 large potato chopped in small chunks
  • 1tsp curry powder
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 200ml plain yogurt

Method:

  1. Fry chopped onion with chicken breast, garlic, chopped vegetables and spices until browned.
  2. Add tinned tomatoes simmer on low heat for approx 20 mins. Check chicken and potato are cooked through and turn off heat.
  3. Stir through yogurt.

Serving suggestion:
Rice & green beans
Added 5 a day:
Try adding a bag of fresh spinach between stage 2 & 3 or some frozen spinach at stage 2.
Ways to make this dish quicker:
– After stage 1, add the tinned tomatoes and place in a slow cooker. At the end of the day you will have a quick, tasty meal, adding yogurt to serve.

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My New Header

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Marguerite Pattern

Marguerite born 1915 became a home economist for the Ministry of Food during World War II. She provided ideas for rationed food and became well known when her ideas were broadcast on BBC radio in a programme called Kitchen Front and a show entitled Woman’s Hour.

Following on from this she went to work at Harrods for their Ministry of Food Advice Bureau, where she worked giving demonstrations on cooking and household appliances.

Her first TV cookery show began in the late 1940s and she continued to present on television for many years. Her work started with a show called Designed for Women and continued to the 21st Century with Carlton’s show Taste.

Marguerite has written over 100 books spanning an vast range. She has written several books with recipes to benefit health such as her recent book entitled ‘Eat to Beat Arthritis’.

My brief synopsis of Marguerite and her work does not do justice to her prolific career. Many call her the first ‘celebrity chef’ and you will find her recipe books on the shelves of many grandparents. At over 90 Jamie Oliver claims Marguerite as a close friend and she worked with him on his school dinner campaign. All in all a very impressive lady!

Photography taken from The Daily Mail.

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Spiced Plum Chutney

This week my brother and I took Baby G to our local fruit farm. We picked lots of plums and my husband and I turned these into chutney.

Our recipe is taken from Marguerite Pattern who, despite being a British food legend, is unknown to almost everybody I’ve mention her to. So, tomorrow in my next blog entry you can read all about Marguerite.

Here is the recipe for Spiced Plum Chutney:

Ingredients:

  • 2lb plums (weight when stoned)
  • 1lb cooking apples (weight when peeled and cored)
  • 1lb onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 600ml white malt vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 120z sultanas
  • 1lb light brown sugar

Method:

  1. Half all plums and remove stones, peel and core apples, then dice into small chunks.
  2. Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic.
  3. Put fruit, onions and garlic into a large pan with half the vinegar and all the spices.
  4. Simmer gently until fruit is soft, add sultanas, sugar and remaining vinegar.
  5. Stir over a low heat until sugar has dissolved, then boil steadily until the consistency is that of jam.
  6. Spoon into hot jars* and seal with lids.

* For instructions on how to prepare your jars read my jam making post.

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Easy Meal Plan

A few weeks ago I wrote a really basic meal plan but it worked so well for me that I had to share it. I found everything I cooked quick and easy to do, nothing was expensive and I had complements after every meal!

The basic structure for to use is this:

  1. Jacket Potatoes with fillings
  2. Pasta
  3. Pizza
  4. Rissoto
  5. Frittata
  6. Stirfry
  7. Pot Roast

Here is how it worked out in more detail for me:

  1. Jacket Potatoes with Ragu and grated cheese (Ragu sauce frozen from leftovers a few weeks ago)
  2. Tomato and chorizo pasta
  3. Frittata
  4. Risotto
  5. Pizza (shop bought £1.50 at Iceland)
  6. Prawn Stirfry
  7. Pot Roast Chicken (a whole chicken cooked in the slow cooker and served just as a roast chicken)
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Cauliflower Cheese for Dinner

Last week I cooked cauliflower cheese for dinner. My Mum used to cook this for us when I was little and she made it into a whole meal by adding bacon, tomatoes and serving it with toast. I always think of this as a bit of a retro dish, especially since my Mum cooked this for my Dad as their first meal as a married couple back in the 60s!

When I told my husband we were having cauliflower cheese for dinner I got the impression he thought it wasn’t really a whole meal and just a side dish. Then, when I served it with lots of bacon, roasted tomato and toast he really enjoyed it, as did Baby G. In fact, we couldn’t even finish it all! I’m pleased it was such a hit as it’s an easy and cheap midweek meal. I made my cheese sauce from scratch but you could buy a white sauce and add grated cheese, or even buy a packet cheese sauce. Here’s my recipe:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 300ml (½ pint) milk
  • 110g (4oz) grated cheddar cheese
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 50g (2oz) butter
  • ½ tsp mustard
  • 4 rashes bacon
  • 12-16 cherry tomatoes
  • Plenty of toast

Method:

  1. Trim the cauliflower boil in salted water for 10-15 minutes or until just tender.
  2. Meanwhile, add the butter to a hot saucepan and melt, stir in flour to make a thick paste, then slowly add the milk stirring continuously until the sauce thickens, boils and is smooth*, simmer gently.
  3. Add grated cheese and mustard, cook for further minute stirring well.
  4. Grill bacon and tomatoes, once bacon cooked chop into small pieces.
  5. Place cooked cauliflower into a large shallow dish pour cheese sauce over, sprinkle bacon on top and place tomatoes around the edge.
  6. Serve with toast.

*If your sauce is lumpy push through a sieve to make smooth.

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Avocado

Mmmm I love avocado. Not just because it tastes great but because it is so good for you. I think there is nothing better than eating something you love and knowing, rather than it being a naughty treat like cake, you are actually eating something healthy.

Avocado is packed full of goodness. It has vitamin C, B6, E, K, magnesium, folic acid, lutein and potassium as well as other health giving properties. Here a few of the health benefits these nutrients provide:

  • Maintaining healthy blood pressure.
  • Good eye health in the eldery.
  • Supports proper muscle function.
  • Healthy skin.
  • Helps produce antibodies to support our immune system.
  • Provides folic acid an essential part of a pregnant woman’s diet for the healthy growth of her baby.
  • Healthy source of fat.

Here is a way I like to serve avocado as a starter or lunch served with crusty bread:

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 rashes bacon, chopped into small chunks
  • Handful of chopped chives
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Black pepper
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Mixed salad leaves

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan, add bacon and fry until crisp.
  2. Add chives, black pepper and lemon juice, stir.
  3. Set saucepan aside to cool a little.
  4. Remove skin and stone from avocado, slice thinly*.
  5. Place mixed salad leaves on two plates, divide avocado into two portions and serve on top of salad.
  6. Pour the warm dressing of oil, bacon and lemon juice over the avocado.

* This youtube video is really helpful if you’ve never chopped up an avocado before or find it fiddly.

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Honeymoon Rice

I often cook stir-fry rice dishes; they are quick and easy. Normally I use chinese flavours, but I wanted something different. In my freezer I had some prawns and remembered some delicious prawns with garlic I had on honeymoon in Paris. Whenever I’ve visited France I’ve found they often serve plain rice to compliment the main flavours of a dish. This inspired me to put these flavours together, as well as adding one of my favourite ingredients – watercress. I’ve found that prawns and watercress work well together. Here is my new quick easy recipe to add to my meal plans; made with fresh herbs and lemon juice to make this rice dish light and zingy. This dish is cooked in a wok and stir-fried, so just like an oriental stir fry keep all the ingredients moving fast around the wok to prevent burning.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 chopped spring onion
  • 1 level tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 200g cooked white rice
  • 150g frozen mixed vegetables (defrosted)
  • 150g prawns
  • 1 salad bag watercress, chopped
  • large handful of chopped fresh parsley and thyme
  • half a lemon

Method:

  1. Heat a wok with oil.
  2. Add spring onions, garlic powder, pepper, mixed vegetables and stir quickly for about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add prawns, watercress and herbs stir quickly for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add half the rice* and stir, mixing in with all the ingredients.
  5. Add remaining rice and stir again.
  6. Squeeze juice of half a lemon over rice, stir and serve.

*Adding rice gradually distibutes rice more efficiently without it burning.

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