In Harvestime Britain has an abundance of amazing produce which is really fresh, full of goodness and flavour because it hasn't had to travel halfway round the world to get to us. We should all take more advantage of these crops, as they also have low food miles and support British Farmers, and in times when food come into season the price drops - or if we're very organised, we can harvest the crops we've grown ourselves.
We have loads of fantastic regional recipes that take advantage of local produce. Around here in North Manchester we're famous for our Black Pudding, which I won't be using on this occasion, and the main farming is vegetables. Hotpots and roast dinners are very popular, and very welcome when you get in from yet another rainy grey Manchester day. Yorkshire is barely a step away from me, so fairly local and I'll be making a Yorkshire Pudding.
OXO have challenged Bloggers to cook for their family in support of British Food Fortnight. To help me they've sent a new 11" Silicone Balloon Whisk and a Serrated Peeler.
I've decided to make Toad-In-The-Hole with Roast Potatoes and seasonal local vegetables, and the dessert with the most humorous name - Spotted Dick.
Toad-In-The-Hole is a real favourite in our house, so I've blogged about it with a recipe before in this post.
I tested the OXO 11" Silicone Balloon Whisk to mix my batter and I have to say I was really impressed. The soft handle is lovely to hold and the whisk was great - it was really light and worked incredibly well, genuinely noticeably quicker and better than a metal whisk. It also washed very well, and I'm able to put it in the dishwasher if I wish.
On this occasion I added a 1/2teaspoon of Sage and some quartered Lancashire mushrooms to the mix with my spoon of Thyme and 2 Lancashire red onions cut into wedges. Britain has a huge array of native herbs that really do add a lot of extra taste to our meals. I used Lincolnshire style (probably cheating) meat free sausages because the black pepper taste goes really well in this dish.
Creamed Carrot and Swede is an excellent vegetable accompaniment, and one that makes good use of the plentiful home-grown root veg at this time of year. It has a little sweetness and a complete change of texture. I like to add half an onion, which gives depth to the flavour.
I used the Oxo Serrated Peeler to peel the carrots and then cut off the outer layer of the swede with a knife. Slice, dice and then boil your veg in just enough water to cover them. When they soften let the water evaporate and you won't be pouring away all the remaining water-soluble vitamins. Season with salt and pepper and maybe a drop of cream if you're spoiling yourself. Mash to a pulp.
Crispy Roast Potatoes can be virtually guaranteed by taking a few simple steps.
Preparation takes the same amount of time whenever you do it, so a good few hours before you're going to need them peel, chop and boil your potatoes.
I used the Oxo Serrated Peeler to peel my spuds. It was magic. It really did glide through the peel and was a joy. The handle is again soft and feels really nice in your hand. The peeler isn't really designed for potatoes, the serrations are there to catch hold of the skins of soft and waxed fruits, and they're incredibly sharp so the included blade guard is an excellent thing.
When you boil your spuds don't add anything to the water - no salt, nothing. You need the potatoes to boil to the point they're soft and delicate, but not actually falling apart. You can tell they're ready when they start 'feathering' around the edges.
Immediately, and very gently, pour away the hot water and refill the pan with cold. Do this 2 or 3 times to cool your spuds quickly, but don't let the potatoes turn to smush. You can even ice the water if it's a warm room as you want your potatoes to stop cooking. Leave your spuds in the water in the fridge until you need them.
When you're ready to cook get the oven nice and hot (at least 200/400/Gas Mark 6, slightly higher if you can, or put the potatoes on the top shelf of a non-fan oven) and put a little oil in the tray. You need to be able to use a teaspoon to pour the oil over the potatoes, but you don't need a ladleful. Carefully tip out your potatoes into your tray and drizzle over a little oil seasoned with Salt, Black Pepper and plenty of Rosemary.
After 10 minutes, 20 minutes and 40 minutes use a spoon and baste your potatoes using the oil in the pan with them. Cook them for around 50 minutes to an hour, depending on just how crispy you want them..
Spotted Dick is a real English classic nursery pudding. Stodgy and filling, yet very cheap and easy to make.
I used a recipe that is freely available on the BBC Good Food Website.
Although it wasn't entirely necessary I wanted to try out the Oxo Serrated Peeler for it's proper purpose. The serrations are vicious, and they are there so that the peeler can grip onto the peel or skin of soft fruits and fruits with a waxy skin. It worked a treat on lemon and orange peel to chop and add to my mix.
A lot of the old-fashioned steamed puddings are made with a basic stodgy recipe to which you add whatever fruit you desire, wrap and steam. You can also add spices such as Nutmeg, Cinnamon or Cloves to give a more seasonal feel during Winter.
When you wrap your pudding in greaseproof paper place the pudding in the middle of the paper and bring the two edges together and roll, then tie the ends like a cracker. This way there is room for the pudding to expand during cooking.
Make sure your pudding never touches the water, or you'll end up with mush. Mine was actually a little dry. When you make your dough it should be soft, but not sticky. I also didn't have anything long enough for a 20cm pudding, so I bent it a little....
|And naturally we served it with custard....|
I've linked this post with At Home With Mrs M's Potato Recipe Linky, which you can find here...