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Cardamom and Pistachio Meringues


 

(Well today I am on way back to the UK.  I have a long journey ahead so won't be doing an awful lot of cooking in the first few days, but with out.  As soon as I get my mojo back, watch out!  I have tons of s rum mines planned!  This is a post from last year, but with strawberries coming into season it's the perfect time to make meringues!  They are wonderful with fresh summer berries!  Enjoy!)

Sometimes as I am creating something in my kitchen, I ponder the alchemy of cookery . . . I wonder things like . . . who was it that discovered that eggs were good to eat . . . and then . . . having discovered that they were indeed very good to eat . . . who was it who discovered that if you beat them together with flour, butter, sugar and leavening . . . you ended up with cake???



And then, having pondered that . . .  and in the nature of what I was making today . . . who was it that discovered that if you separated the white and yolks . . . the yolks could be beaten light and fluffy . . . and that having done so, if you beat sugar into them and then baked them . . . the result was lovely sweet, crunchy and light meringues???

 

Yes, I do have an enquiring mind . . . and sometimes I really do wonder about these things . . . perhaps it's just in my nature.

 

Today, having use the yolks for another purpose, I found myself with a surplus of egg whites.  I decided to make some lovely light and sweet meringues.  Lightly spiced meringues . . . redolent of ground cardamom and cinnamon . . .  and then scattered with coarsely chopped raw pistachio nuts before baking . . .



Some people are afraid of meringues, but they're really not all that difficult to execute, if you follow a few simple rules.  Room temperature whites.  Clean,  grease-free glass or metal  bowl and clean beaters.  If you add the sugar slowly, it will kind of melt into the egg whites and you will get a nice smooth texture, not gritty at all, and lovely volume.  Oh . . .  and don't use really fresh egg whites . . . you want them almost to the sell by date . . .for some reason, that's how you get lots of volume.  The older the egg white . . . the larger the meringues.



These are beautiful served with sliced berries anda  bit of whipped cream . . . kind of like a de-constructed Eton Mess . . . and every bit as lovely.  Today I added a bit of lemon juice and icing sugar to the cream . . . so I got a kind of whipped lemon posset cream.  You don't need much lemon juice, only a squirt.  Your cream thickens up very nicely.  If you find it a bit too thick . . . then just stir in a bit more cream.

 

D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!!  The perfect light dessert for a warm "late" summer's day . . .with the last of the strawberries of the season . . .



*Cardamom & Pistachio Meringues*
Makes 4 to 6
Printable Recipe

Honey coloured, crisp sweet meringues. lightly spiced with cinnamon and cardamom and sprinkled with chopped pistachio nuts.  Perfect for serving with poached or fresh fruits.

200g of golden caster sugar (1 cup)  (plus a bit extra)
3 large free range egg whites
a generous pinch of each ground cinnamon and ground cardamom
a handful of raw pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Line two baking sheets with some nonstick baking paper.  Set aside.

Measure the egg whites into a large grease free glass bowl.  Whip with an electric whisk until they are firm and fluffy.  Fold in the sugar and spices.   Continue to whip with an electric whisk until the mixture is glossy and thick. 

Sprinkle the lined baking sheets with some caster sugar.  Place into the heated oven to warm.  Remove from the oven and then using two spoons scoop 8 ot 9 huge dollops of the whipped egg whites  onto the baking sheets, leaving plenty of space in between for spreading.    Sprinkle with the chopped pistachio nuts.

Place into the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 140*C/275*F/ gas mark 1.  Bake for about an hour until they are pale honey coloured, reducing the temperature if they begin to brown too much.  At the end of that time, turn out the oven (turn it off) and leave the meringues to see in the oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, remove and cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.  Serve with sliced fruit, or poached fruits.  Berries are especially good with these.

A few more tips for perfect meringues:
  •  Make them on a dry day.  A humid day or rainy day means there's a lot of moisture in the air and this can adversely affect your meringues 
  • Cold eggs separate more easily than room temperature ones.  Separate them fresh out of the refrigerator, and then let them come to room temperature before whipping.
  • Separate your eggs into a small  bowl, one at a time, and only adding them to the main bowl when you have done so successfully.  The least little bit of egg yolk in the whites means they will not whip.  Rather than spoil a whole bowl of whites, better that you only spoil one.  You can try to fish it out with a piece of the egg shell, and that will often work, but don't try to use your fingers, as the oil from your fingers will also work adversely against them whipping properly.
  • Use superfine sugar if you can.  This ensures that it melts better during the whipping process, giving you a smoother textured meringue.  Rub a bit of the meringue between your fingers.  If it feels gritty, keep beating.  Your mixture should be thick, glossy and quite smooth to touch.
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Buttermilk Scone Muffins




Kinda like a muffin.



Kinda like a scone.



A delicious quick bread that is shaped like a muffin and as easy to throw together as a muffin is . . . but has the lovely short texture of a scone.

Light, fluffy and buttery, and oh so scrummily crunchy on the outsides.



These are fabulous served straight from the oven with plenty of cold butter and fruit preserves.

Great for breakfast, lunch and even a wonderful teatime treat!



Easy peasy and yummy scrummy!!




*Buttermilk Scone Muffins*
Makes 12
Printable Recipe

Slightly sweet and as easy to make as stirring together some ingredients and dropping them into muffin cups. They take a bit longer to bake, but you are rewarded at the end with delicious muffin shaped scones that are meltingly tender inside and crisply scrummy on the outsides! Delicious served warm with some cold butter and fruit preserves!

360g of plain flour (2 1/2 cups)
2 TBS caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp of baking soda
10 TBS chilled butter, cut into bits
250ml of buttermilk (1 cup)

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a 12 cup medium muffin tin well. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and soda. Drop in the butter and rub it into the flour mixture until the mixture is mealy. Add the buttermilk and stir it in with a fork, stirring it in until the dough is slightly firm. You may need more buttermilk. You want it stiff, but of dropable consistency.

Drop by dessertspoonfuls into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it equally amongst them.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until golden brown and crusty. (Check frequently near the end to make sure they aren't over browing!)

Serve warm
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Cinnamon Butter Buns




(It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since I originally posted this recipe.  At that time, I had just arrived home from Canada, having gone to my eldest daughter's much anticipated wedding, and here I am almost ready to return to the UK (3 more sleeps) from an unexpected trip to Canada to help my mom through her recent health problems.  Just goes to show you how very different one year can be from the next, and how we never know what lays around the corner for any of us.  Well. One thing for sure . . . These tasty buns are always delicious no matter what, no matter when!)

Well., I'm back from my daughter's wedding and I hate to say it, but I am literally exhausted. Thirty-five hours on the trott to get back home and by the time we hit the sack last night we were both so over tired neither one of us slept much at all.



I got up this morning with great intentions . . . unpacked, did two loads of laundry and then I baked these for breakfast with what I had in the house.



And then . . . I crashed. Blah . . . I have no energy at all. I'm just pooped . . .



Sad to say I don't think there will be much cooking from me for a few days. Perhaps an early night tonight will fix that. We'll just have to wait and see.



These were fabulously good though . . . just sayin is all . . .



*Cinnamon Butter Buns*
Makes 6
Printable Recipe

Quick, easy and oh so scrummy. The perfect weekend morning cinnamon fix!

1 tin of refrigerated croissant rolls (I used the Jus Rol ones, with six in the pack)
softened unsalted butter for spreading
100g of soft light brown sugar (1/2 cup packed)
3 heaped teaspoons of ground cinnamon

To glaze:
130g of sifted icing sugar (1 cup)
milk
few drops vanilla

Preheat your oven to 190*c/375*F/ gas mark 4. Butter six muffin cups well. Set aside.

Unroll your croissant rolls. Divide into 3 segments, pressing the diagonals together in the middle to seal. Spread with the softened butter to cover. Stir together the brown sugar and the ground cinnamon. Sprinkle 1/3 of this mixture over each rectangle, covering completely and pressing to adhere. Roll up the diagonals from the long side, tightly. Cut each into 6 equal pieces with a sharp knife. Place one each of three into each buttered muffin cup, with the cut sides down.

Place into the heated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until nicely risen and browned. Turn out onto a wire rack. Allow to cool slightly. Whisk together the icing sugar, a few drops of vanilla and enough milk to give you a drizzable icing. (about 1 TBS) Drizzle this over the top sides of the still warm buns. Serve immediately to your lucky family along with some hot drinking chocolate or cafe au lait!! Scrummo!



She was an incredibly beautiful bride though . . . from left to right . . .

My daughter Amanda (Matron of Honor), Eileen, her step sister Krysta (Bridesmaid).


and the cutest little flower girl ever . . . my Granddaughter Maryn.

Nighty night.
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Warm Blueberry And Almond Breakfast muffins


 

(Normally in mostly bake at the weekends.  These delicious blueberry muffins make a tasty treat no matter the day of the week you bake them.  Another repost from my archives.  Happy Victoria Day in the UK and in America, Happy Memorial Day!)

Yayy!! It's the weekend!!  I love the weekend.  I know I don't work full time anymore and don't really have all that many pressing issues in my life during the week, except for whatever work I make for myself and my church duties, but I still like to pull out the stops a bit at the weekend, like anyone.



Of course Sunday is reserved for church, but on Saturday I like to do a few things that I normally wouldn't do the rest of the week . . . like visit stately country homes (weather permitting) or go for country walks, the seaside, etc.  That kind of thing.



It's also the day I like to have a bit of an extra treat for breakfast.  Something special you know . . . it's no fun watching the calories all week, if you don't have something special to look forward to at the weekend is it?  All work and no play and all that stuff!

 

I like to bake something special at the weekend, like these delicious Blueberry and Almond Muffins!   (And you know how very much I love, LOVE blueberries!)



There was a special on blueberries at the grocery store when I went there yesterday, a HUGE punnet of them for only £2.  What can I say . . . I loaded up on them!  My freezer is stogged full as we speak, and I am drooling over the future cakes and goodies I am going to be baking with them!



But . . . I digress  . . . Blueberry and Almond Muffins.  Moist with buttermilk deliciousness, and lightly spiced with mixed spice . . . that lovely combination of warm baking spices that makes all those baked goodies taste that little bit scrummier . . .

 

Stogged to the hilt full of lovely blueberries . . . they get almost jammy and even sweeter when they are baked.

 

Lovely almond flavour . . . both through the use of ground almonds in the batter and through that crunch sprinkle of almonds that you sprinkle over top before baking . . .

 

I was almost tempted to drizzle a lemon glaze over top . . . but then I thought . . . why mess with perfection.

 

These babies . . . well . . . they are perfect just as they are.



*Warm Blueberry and Almond Muffins*
Makes 12 medium muffins
Printable Recipe

Quick and easy to prepare for a weekend breakfast or brunch.  Especially lovely served warm with a hot drink, or cold orange juice.

200g of plain flour (a generous 2 cups)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground mixed spice (see recipe to make your own
in my right hand side bar)
50g ground almonds (generous 1/2 cup)
175g of sugar (1 scant cup)
1 medium free range eggs
300ml of buttermilk (1 1/4 cup)
50g of butter, melted (3 1/2 TBS)
250g of fresh blueberries (about 2 cups)
15g of chopped almonds to top (2 TBS)

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.  Line a 12 cup medium muffin pan with paper liners.  Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder and mixed spice into a large bowl.  Whisk in the ground almonds and sugar.  Beat together the egg, buttermilk and melted butter in another bowl.  Stir this into the dry ingredients, mixing only to combine.  Fold in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it evenly amongst them.  They should be roughly 2/3 full.  Sprinkle some of the chopped almonds on top of each.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until well risen and golden brown.  Remove from the oven and turn out onto a wire rack to cook for several minutes before serving.  Serve warm.
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Lemon and Jam Slices


 

( A repost and one of our favourites.  These would be a great take along to a picnic or holiday weekend barbecue!)

I had some lemons that I needed to use up today. I always buy too many. I just love the sight of a bowl of lemons on the counter top . . . I often pick them up and have a smell as I walk past. Lemons just look so cheerful to me, and homey.



I am very fond of lemon flavored anything.  I think if I had to choose between any kind of pie and a Lemon Pie . . . I'd take the lemon pie ever time!  And Lemon Cake, Lemon Loaf, Crisp Lemon cookies, Lemon pudding . . . you name it.  I just love, Love, LOVE Lemon!

 

I decided to make some of my favourite slices . . . Lemon and Jam slices.  Or Squares if you would rather call them that.  I like to call them slices . . . sounds even more delicious when you call them slices.  A rose by any other name and all that . . .



I love these slices because they encompass three of my favourite things . . . a buttery, crisp shortbread base . . . sweet strawberry preserves . . . a tangy lemon topping.

 

Oh my . . . but these are heavenly bliss.  I love to enjoy them in the middle of the afternoon along with a hot drink.  They're so good.  These are the type of slices that you have  a hard time walking past without picking at them . . . and I confess . . . I can never wait until they completely cool before I dig into them.



You're supposed to wait until they are completely cold to cut them . . . but they are awfully good warm . . . just sayin is all.  They bring out the glutton in me.  The tang of the lemon is soooo very good with the sweet fruitiness of the jam . . . and that buttery crust.



Of course you could use another flavour of jam if you wished.  I just particularly love them made with strawberry jam.  Cherry, raspberry or apricot are all rather good too . . . and then there is wild blueberry preserves, another favourite of mine.

 

I confess . . . I sometimes use limes and ginger jam.  Those are awfully good too, especially if you add a little bit of ground ginger to the base.  Mmmm . . . mmm . . . good.



 *Lemon and Jam Slices*
Makes  15 squares
Printable Recipe

 A butter, almost shortbread type of base, topped with sweet strawberry jam and a tangy lemon topping baked on top.  Delicious.

For the base:
200g of plain flour (2 cups)
225g of cold unsalted butter (1 cup, or 2 sticks)
42g sifted icing sugar (1/3 cup)
1/4 tsp fine sea salt

For the jam:
6 heaped dessert spoons (about 3/4 cup)

For the Lemon topping:
281g of granulated sugar
the finely grated zest of one un-waxed lemon
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 TBS plain flour
3 large free range eggs
the juice of 2 1/2 lemons (1/3 cup)

Icing sugar to dust


Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Butter an 11 by 7 inch baking dish,  Dust with flour, shaking out any excess.  Set aside.  (Alternately you can line with foil and butter and dust the foil, leaving an overhang to lift the slices out when done.)

Whisk the flour, icing sugar and salt together in a large bowl.  Cut the butter into cubes and drop it in.  Rub it into the flour mixture with your fingertips until you have coarse crumbs.  Press this mixture into the prepared baking tin.    Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, just until it is firm.  Remove from the oven.

Whisk together the granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder and flour for the lemon topping.  Beat in the eggs and lemon juice until smooth.  Set aside.

Stir the jam together in a bowl with a fork to loosen it.  Spread this over the warm base.  Pour the lemon mixture over top and return the pan to the oven.  Bake for an additional  25 to 30 minutes, until it is set and lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely before removing from the pan.  Dust with icing sugar.  Cut  into squares to serve.
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Summer,Salad,of Peas, Beans and Asparagus




(Another tasty salad to enjoy on this Bank Holiday weekend! A repost from an earlier date.)

One of the problems of having as many cookbooks as I have, and subscribing to as many cookery magazines as I do . . . is that you oft-times see a recipe that you want to try and then when you have the ingredients all in to do it . . . you can't find the darned recipe!! That is always happening to me and it's quite maddening in the end . . . I think I need to have a notebook that I write down the ones I want to try in, along with the name of the book or magazine and the page number . . .



Somewhere over the past several weeks, either here or in Canada, I had seen a salad recipe that had lovely fresh peas, snow beas, beans and asparagus in it . . . I couldn't remember if there was any couscous or another grain in it or not . . . or even what the dressing was. I could only remember that it was beautiful to look at, and sounded delicious.



I could not find the recipe . . . and so I kind of winged it and came up with this one here today, which turned out to be totally beautiful and totally delicious too!! I loved the colours and the flavours . . . this is a new favourite for us. I love it when that happens!



I had some really lovely fresh vegetables . . . some which I had grown in our garden, and others which I picked up at the shops yesterday. (I've been shopping at Aldi lately and they have vastly improved in their quality of goods since I moved over here 12 years ago. Their produce used to be minging . . . but it's now very good. Bonus! You can save money and eat pretty decently at the same time! Result!!)



I simply steamed my vegetables lightly, once I had prepared them . . . keeping that beautiful green colour . . . I love my veg crispy tender. Todd actually likes his a bit more well done . . . but in a salad . . . you do NOT want well done veg! (Actually you never want them really well done, unless you are cooking a stew . . . but tell that to the man. He was brought up on school dinners during WW2 and has a must be cooked to death mentality when it comes to veg. I am still trying to convert him after 12 years.)



I created a beautifully flavoured lemon and mint vinaigrette to toss them in and it all went so beautifully together . . . wonderful flavours, textures and colours. You don't want the veg to sit in the dressing for too long, or it will change the colour somewhat. It will still taste good, but not be as pretty.



I just loved this . . . and Todd . . . well, he ate all his up, so it couldn't have tasted all that bad to him! Seriously, he did like it too! This is a most delicious way to get in some of your five a day!



*Summer Salad of Peas, Beans and Asparagus
with a Lemon & Mint Vinaigrette*

Serves 4
Printable Recipe

This is such a pretty green colour and the dressing is fabulous. This is something I threw together with what I had to hand and it's become a true favourite. The flavours are delightfully fresh and moreish.

For the dressing:
1 small shallot, peeled and minced
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
2 TBS chopped fresh mint
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the vegetables:
1 small packet of snow peas, washed and strings removed
(about 3/4 cup)
1 small packet of haricot verts, washed and trimmed
(about 1 1/2 cups)
1 bunch of thin asparagus, trimmed and washed
a handful of fresh or frozen peas (thawed)

Whisk together the salad dressing ingredients. Set aside. (You can also shake them together in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.)

Have a steamer basket ready over fast simmering water. (You will need a lid)

Slice the snow peas on the diagonal into two or three pieces, depending on the size. Slice the haricot vert diagonally into several pieces as well. Slice the asparagus and trim off the pointy bits on the stem.

Drop the haricot verts into the steamer basket. Cover and steam for about 2 minutes. Drop in the asparagus. Cover and steam for a further minute. Drop in the snow peas and fresh peas. Cover and steam for 1 to 2 minutes longer. You want vegetables that are bright green and crispy tender. Drop all into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process, and then drain well. Hold until you are ready to serve the salad.

When ready to eat, toss the crispy tender vegetables in the dressing and serve immediately.

Note: do not let the vegetables linger too long in the dressing as the colour will be compromised. They will still taste wonderful, but not be as pretty.
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