Raspberry & Blackcurrant cobbler

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It is that glorious time of year again, when after putting in exactly no effort (baby, job, blog, new book, telly to watch, socializing… the list goes on) the garden is teaming with fruit.

In 2009 I bought special-offer, nearly-dead fruit trees in Aldi. They had lost their labels, so nobody was entirely sure what type of fruit tree they were, plus the bucket that was meant to be keeping them in water (and alive) fell over hours before I got there (I swear!) so the manager made my day and told me I could have the last few that were left for the price of one – otherwise he was going to throw them in the bin anyway.

One euro and one very-happy definitely-repeat-customer later, I brought them home to show my husband, who promptly laughed at me as though I had bought some magic beans. But undeterred I planted them anyway – what’s the worst that could happen – and like the beans, after a few days, out grew shoots and shoots of green saplings. These things were definitely not dead. And like Audrey II in the Little Shop of Horrors, they took on a life of their own. They grew tall, they grew strong, and my god, was there lots of fruit.

It turned out I had two raspberry, two blackberry and one black current plant, which I collectively called the Audreys.

Now, we had the garden landscaped this year (because, you know, the Celtic tiger is back and what else do yuppies do) and that claimed the two blackberry bushes which were out of control, but the black current and raspberry bushes survived. So on a sporadically sunny day a few weeks back I decided to harvest the fruit I did very little to earn and make a raspberry and blackcurrant cobbler using a recipe from BBC Good Food.

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This recipe was adapted from the BBB’s GoodFood

Ingredients

  • 200g blackcurrants
  • 500g raspberries
  • juice 1 orange (80ml)
  • 2-4 tbsp caster sugar

For the cobbler

  • 85g cold butter, cubed
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 150ml full-fat milk
  • 2 tbsp demerara sugar

Method

  1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. If the redcurrants are still on their stalks, run each stalk through the tines of a fork to release them. If you have the time and inclination, pinch the little end stalks off – this will make them nicer to eat.
  2. Put the redcurrants and raspberries into a 1-litre baking dish, add the orange juice and shake over most of the sugar. Taste a raspberry first to gauge whether you will need all the sugar or not.
  3. To make the cobbler, whizz the butter, flour, soft brown sugar and a pinch of salt to fine breadcrumbs in a food processor. Mix in the buttermilk or milk to make a very soft, spoonable dough.
  4. Dollop the dough over the fruit in blobs and sprinkle with demerara. Bake for 55 mins or until the top is golden and cooked through and the berries bubbling.

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Guest Blog: Maire Brophy with Vegan Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is a delightful way to add a touch of class to any party. We are big fans of it here at A Home Made By Committee and it is something that we have discussed previously in our coverage of Galentines Day. However, the task of hosting such an event is made a little more difficult if your guest of honour has strict dietary requirements, such as being vegan. Some creativity and inventiveness is required to fulfill these requirements without losing the look and feel of a traditional Afternoon Tea. Here is how Maire rose to the challenge …..

 

As a special celebration for a vegan friend of mine, I decided to make us some afternoon tea.

 

Menu

Finger sandwiches with hummus, rocket and red onion

*

Bruschetta

Basil and plum tomatoes

Roasted red peppers and avocado

*

Raspberry scones with coconut cream and jam

*

Pinwheel cookies and chocolate brownies

*

Tea and Prosecco

 

 

Vegan Finger Sandwiches and Bruschetta

As a baker I knew there was plenty of recipes that would work. The hardest thing, as it happens, was to find the fillings for some lovely finger sandwiches. I think these ones are much superior to the traditional cucumber sambos. Make these just before serving.

Vegan Brushetta

  1. Spread hummus on to two slices of fresh white bread, add leaves of rocket and thin slices of red onion. Cut the crusts off and cut into finger sandwich sizes
  2.  Get some fresh, Italian bread, or some other crusty bread, cut into bite size servings (we’re being civilised here remember). Toast lightly.
  3.  In a bowl mix diced fresh tomatoes with some finely chopped red onion, finely chopped fresh basil, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt and half a teaspoon of sugar. Spread this on half of your toasted bread, and heat briefly under the grill.
  4.   Chop some avocado into small cubes, mix with roasted peppers and add some olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread on to the other half of your toasted bread and grill briefly. Serve warm.

 

Raspberry Scones

My usual scone recipe is egg-free anyway, so this was just a matter of substituting the regular milk to soy milk

scone Collage

Ingredients

  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 120g dairy-free margarine (stork or similar)
  • 100g sugar
  • 300ml soya milk
  • small punnet of fresh raspberries, washed

 

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C
  2. Rub the marg and flour together, or just use a mixer… I used a mixer. Stick it on for a bit and check that the flour and marg are evenly mixed together – and there aren’t any large lumps. Then add your sugar and mix again.
  3. Next add the soy milk and mix. When the mixture is uniform, you can add the raspberries. The raspberries are fragile and will break as you mix. If you want large raspberry pieces, don’t mix for too long.
  4. Flour a clean work-surface and put your mix on it. Knead the mixture gently until it forms a smooth dough, this should only take a minute or two. The fresh raspberries will make your mixture wetter so you might need to use a bit of extra flour at this point.
  5. Flatten it out to about 1 or 2 cm thick and use a glass or cutter to cut out the size you want.
  6. Put your scones on floured baking trays and bake for about 15 minutes – until they’re turning a little golden on top. The cooking time will depend on how big your scones are. Larger scones will take a little longer
  7. This mix makes 10-12 medium to large scones. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. And then have at least one just to check that they’re ok, and not because you want to have greedy scoffingtons.

 

 

Pinwheel cookies

vegan pinwheel cookies

Ingredients

  • 275g plain flour
  • 200g dairy free margarine (stork or similar) room temperature
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C and grease some flat baking trays.
  2.  Cream the butter and sugar together – again I just through them in the mixer. It helps if you leave the margarine out for a few hours before using it. Add in the flour and mix into a manageable dough.
  3.  Divide the mixture roughly in half and add the cocoa powder to one have.
  4.  Roll out each mixture between two sheets of greaseproof paper or parchment. Try to make them roughly the same size. When done place one on top of the other. Trim the edges to make a rectangle (trimmings also make delicious cookies), roll it up ala a swiss roll and then put it in the fridge for half an hour or so.
  5.  When it’s had a chance to chill and harden a little bit, take it out and slice it to give you the pinwheel cookie shape. Place on the greased trays and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  6.  When out of the oven leave to cool on the trays for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

 

 Vegan brownies

These are very good, although they do lack the chewy edges you get from usual brownies. The original recipe called for 250ml of oil, although I saw a suggestion that you could lower the amount oil by using apple sauce or chocolate pudding. I found vegan chocolate pudding in my local supermarket, and so replace 100ml of oil with two chocolate puddings.

 

Ingredients

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 350g brown sugar
  • 65g cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • 250ml water
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 2 vegan chocolate puddings (or just use 250ml oil)

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a rectangular baking tin with parchment
  2. Mix all the dry ingredient together and then add the wet ingredients and mix until everything is combined.
  3. Pour into your tray and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until the top is no longer shiny. Allow it to cool in the try before cutting it into squares.

 

Obviously taste one… quality control you know.

You might have to have a second one, just to be sure.

 

Vegan Tea

Make sure you scald the pot first (that’s not especially for vegans, that’s just being a civilised human being!)

Use soya or almond milk instead of cow’s milk

 

Vegan Prosecco

Just use regular prosecco…. add some fruit, because you know, 5 a day and all that.

 

 

 

End results:Scoffingtons!

vegan tea the end

Galentine’s Day: Beginners guide to throwing an Afternoon Tea party

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Inspired by Leslie from Parks and Recreation, this bespoke day is an annual celebration of your female friendships, which is supposed to take place the day before Valentine’s Day. However, I think such a wonderful idea should not be limited by calendar dates, but instead be allowed run free throughout the year, to land of any day of your choosing. The day of my choosing was last weekend, when I threw an afternoon tea-party for six of my very favourite gal pals.

 

Now, it’s all very well to decide to throw afternoon tea, but as the date drew closer and the realisation dawned on me that not only would I have to feed these people without giving them food poisoning (I and my husband have built up a digestional resistance to my cooking but I worry when I have to inflict it on the innocent) but they would also be in my permanently-partially-decorated home, free to roam and open doors and drawers at will. This required a strategy.

 

Food:

First thing was the menu. I need something that I could easily prepare, would earn me a shot at the domestic goddess title, without actually requiring too much effort. The golden rule from Ms Delia Smith is that you should buy something and make something, so I decided on:

  • Three types of sandwich cut into triangles

These are easy, make as normal, cut into triangles held together with toothpick, arrange nicely on display stand

  • Scones with jam, cream and butter

For the scones you could make from scratch, but I bought a ready-mixed Odlum QuickMix packet and added what was needed. My special touch was using my heart shaped scone cutters to make heart shaped scones – so cute. Jam, cream and butter I just served in cute little dishes

  • Croissants

Bought a Bake-it-fresh JusRol pack, rolled and popped in the oven

  • Brioche

This I just bought in a packet from Tescos. Took from packet and placed artistically on plate, job done.

  • Brownies with cream and strawberries for dessert

I bought a ready-mixed packet and once I had cooked them, I simply arranged on a pretty plate

  • Tea
  • Champagne with strawberry icecubes

C28. GD 2

 

 

Getting Ready. The Timeline:

 

Three or Four Days before G-Day

  • I cleaned the house top to bottom. I scrubbed bathrooms, hovered, cleaned and put away clothes, emptied bins: the works. I gave it the full mother-in-law-about-to-visit treatment.
  • I also did the shopping, and got in all the supplies that I needed.

 

Night before G-Day

  • Cleaned again, but this time it only needed a light spruce, the heavy work having been already completed.
  • Made heart-shaped strawberry ice-cubes, by dicing strawberries into a heart-shaped ice-cube tray.
  • Picked out and tried on clothes for tomorrow – when you are in a rush it is not the time to discover your skinny jeans no longer fit.
  • Make sure you have enough display plates and stands for the amount of food you will be serving, and that you have enough delph and cutlery for all the courses, and all your guests.

 

G-day morning;

  • Up out of the bed at 7am.
  • Set alarm to 12pm, two hours before arrival time of 2pm.
  • I started cooking at 8am by turning on the oven to preheat.
  • I checked all the cooking instructions, and the first things made were the scones as they took the longest to cook.
  • While they were cooking I made the sandwiches.
  • Once the scones were done, I put them on the cooling rack and started the croissants: they were rolled and put in the oven.
  • While they were cooking I set the table and laid out the brioche and sandwiches.
  • Once the croissants were ready they went onto the cooling rack and the brownies were next.
  • As the brownies cooked, I finished laying the table.
  • Then I cleaned dishes and started to clean the kitchen when alarm went off – 2 hours to go. I decided to finish cleaning the kitchen, which took a half hour, before going and getting washed and dressed myself.

Point to note: It is always better to be dressed long before guests arrive, in case somebody arrives early. You can always get an early bird to help you with the set-up, you cannot invite them to help you apply your makeup. And you certainly don’t want to run over time and have all your guests arrive when you are only half dressed.

  • Once dressed, I laid out the scones and croissants on the table, and put the brownies to one side for later.
  • I cleaned dishes again (because I did not want the dishwasher whirling away while we were eating), and was just pouring a glass of champagne when bing-bong, the doorbell rang to signal the arrival of the first guests.

 

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