Monday, 9 November 2009
There is nothing like a squidgy, fluffy, soft and bouncy pink marshmallow.
Really, nothing can compare.
Floating in hot chocolate, toasted to a crisp and gooey mess in front of the fire, or simply stuffed into your mouth four at a time, they are one of my all time favourite sweeties.
And I think they are a wonderful pressie to take to a friends house, a brilliant confection to have in your home at this time of the year - and a perfect stocking filler for next month.
Go, on be brave, have a go at cooking them and discover the love that is a gentle, bouncy rose pink mallow.
2 tablespoons of cornflour
2 tablespoons of icing sugar
1oz/25g powdered gelatine (about two sachets)
1lb 2oz/500g granulated sugar
2 eggs whites
Pink food colouring
1. Sift the icing sugar and cornflour together into a small bowl.
2. Rub a shallow cake tin of about 20x20cm with a few drops of vegetable oil and shake a little of the icing sugar mixture around the tin to coat the base and sides.
3.Heat the water until hand hot and then sprinkle the gelatine over the top. Stir until all of the gelatine has dissolved.
4. Put the sugar into a medium-sized saucepan with 250ml of water. Warm over a low heat, stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved, then place a sugar thermometer in the pan and raise the heat, allowing the mixture to boil fiercely without stirring until the thermometer reads 122°C. Remove from the heat and pour gelatine mixture into the hot sugar syrup, stirring until everything is well blended.
5. Pour the egg whites into the large bowl of a mixer and beat until stiff. With the mixer going at a low speed, slowly pour in the sugar mixture in a steady, gentle trickle. After you’ve added all of the syrup, leave the machine to carry on beating until the mixture turns really thick and bulky but is still pourable – when you lift up the beater, it should leave a ribbon trail of the mixture on the surface which takes a few seconds to sink back down into the mix.
6. Pour the marshmallow into the prepared tin. Leave to set in a cool place (do not refrigerate) for an hour or two.
7. Dust a chopping board with the rest of the cornflour and icing sugar mixture. Coat a knife with a little oil. Carefully ease the marshmallow out of the tin onto the board, helping it out where necessary with the knife. Make sure all of the surfaces of the marshmallow are entirely dusted with the icing sugar mixture. Cut the marshmallows into squares, oiling and dusting the knife as needed. Store in an airtight tin lined with baking parchment.
(You can see Jacqueline's hands here as she made these lovely babies in a Cookery Lesson with me.)
Friday, 16 October 2009
Whoopee! I've found another way to use up some of the many apples scattered across my lawn.
I've had to, as I can't fit another jar of jelly or jam in my shop and I'm sick of the sight of my jelly bag.The spilt sugar on my kitchen floor is also a bit irritating - the way it collects on my bare feet and then disperses itself onto the carpet in the sitting room.
I do sweep - honest!
It's just that sugar seems to find a way to hide then leap out and attach itself to my toes just when I least expect it. Along with the odd shard of glass that I thought I'd cleared up last month and the earing that dropped off a couple of weeks before.
There's a place where these things exist - another dimension where odd socks, postal rubber bands, old cracker toys, keys and nail files go and then appear yards away from where you swore you'd left them. Sugar is in there somewhere...
So... my yummy Apple Turnovers.
You won't use much apple, but you will feel better for using it in a different way. It's very simple. You poach them gently, flavour and cool them. Roll out some puff pastry and wrap the apple up in a cosy way.
Deep fry and then toss in cinnamon sugar.
Eat hot and eat more than one - I insist you do.
It's Lotte's law.
225g/8oz eating apples - peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 tablespoons of water
25g/1oz soft brown sugar
Grated zest of 1/2 orange and 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp of caraway seeds
1/2 tsp of rosewater
225g/8oz puff pastry
Sunflower oil for frying
Caster sugar for sprinkling
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1. Put the apples into a pan with the water, sugar, cloves, zest and caraway seeds.
2. Simmer very gently for about 10-15 minutes or until the apples are just cooked.
2. Leave to cool and then remove the cloves. Stir in the rosewater.
3. Roll out the pastry and divide into 12, 7.5cm/3inch squares.
4. Divide the apple mixture over the pastry squares, moisten the edges of the pastry with some water, and then fold over the corners to form a triangle.
5. It is really important to seal the edges well with a fork to prevent the apple escaping. Chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
6. Fill a large, deep saucepan 1/3 full of oil and heat. Test the heat by popping a crust of bread in the oil; it should sizzle quite quickly when the oil is up to heat.
7. Fry the pies a couple at a time until crisp and golden on both sides.
8. Drain well, sprinkle with caster sugar and cinnamon.
Monday, 5 October 2009
My office is in the pink room. A room all my friends claim as their own when they come to stay.
'Am I sleeping in MY pink room Lotte?'
'Of course, where else but your very OWN room in my cottage.'
I don't have the heart to confess to them all that the room isn't just THEIRS, I don't want to crush their dreams.
For some reason people sleep so very well in the pink room. Friends who have been losing sleep through worry or other various reasons, spend a night in the pink room and sleep like babies. Some don't come out for hours. One friend woke up after we had served lunch. I didn't like to disturb her, she was shattered from work. I'm kind, so I saved her a chicken leg!
I work from the pink room and my desk is by the old window. Through the window, I see the garden change as the seasons draw on.
I watch the cherry tree bud, it's dark pink flowers blossom and fade, the bulbs spring to life, the herbaceous do their thing over the summer and the lilac deliver their stunning flowers and perfume. I like nothing better than smelling the lilac as I go to bed on a warm spring night. It makes me feel all secure and lovely that another summer is on it's way.
I know it's autumn now, the signs are there.
The air has a nip, there's a fat pigeon eating my crab apples, the leaves are scattered around the fallen apples and.... the Mad Robin Redbreast is back.
He really is a bit loopy. He spends all day attacking his reflection in the old window by my desk. Tapping at his own head, fluttering in a more than aggressive manner at his own wings. He's really very stupid.
Robin's are very territorial - this one is bonkers.
Every time he goes in for the kill, he hits glass (not hard, so don't worry), he hasn't yet learnt, that there isn't another robin - it's him!
I do love his tenacity though, and I do love his song. The robin will sing all through the winter, especially if he is near a street light. If you hear bird song in the middle of the night, in the winter, it'll probably be a robin.
Saturday, 19 September 2009
I've been a busy bunny!
Winter Tonic Jelly – Small £3.00, Large £4.50
Sloe Gin Jelly – Small £3.00, Large £4.50
Plum Jam – Small £3.00, Large £4.50
Garden Chutney – Small £3.50, Large £5.00
Lotte’s Boozy Christmas Mincemeat – Small £4.00, Large £6.00
(Available from October 1st)
Winter Tonic Jelly – Sugar, Apples, Damsons, Elderberries, Blackberries, Star Anise, Cinnamon, Cloves.
Sloe Gin Jelly – Sugar, Apples, Sloe Berries steeped in Gin for two years, Lotte’s Sloe Gin, Pectin, Cloves.
Plum Jam – Plums, Sugar, Lemon.
Garden Chutney – Marrow, Apple, Onion, Tomatoes, Runner Beans, Sugar, Malt Vinegar, Cornflour, Turmeric, Black
Lotte’s Boozy Christmas Mincemeat – sultanas, raisins, dried apricots, dried figs, dried dates, glace cherries, dark rum, brandy, orange marmalade, orange, apples, soft brown sugar, Demerara sugar, ground mixed spice, freshly grated nutmeg
All the jams, jellies, chutney are hand-made by me using the fruit and vegetables from my garden.
The Boozy mincemeat contains apples from the garden and a slug or two of my home-made sloe gin!
They are for sale at the cookery demonstrations, one to one cookery days and food and wine matching evenings.
Or... just give email me firstname.lastname@example.org and come by and pick some up.
I can send them by post too - email for price of P&P.
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
No, I haven't got a cure for the common cold or a comedy routine to while away the dark afternoons.
Nor do I have a concept to keep Swine Flu at bay.( a little tip here, don't tell anyone - Drink Sloe Gin - I think it works!)
What I do have for you, is a recipe for the most wonderful, delicious, yummy autumn jelly that is packed full of vitamin C and scrumptiousness. Allegedly. Have to say that, otherwise I'll get letters!
However, it must have SOME Vitamin C in it as it is made with elderberries (brimming), blackcurrants (cascading), apples, (quite a lot), blackerries (I know there is some in there), damsons (gotta be a little bit), and sloes (well, see above.)
I've picked them, cooked them, jelly bagged them and steeped them in sugar and spices. Boiled the jelly and filled twenty eight jars. I'll be selling it at my Cookery School Demonstrations this Autumn and Winter.
See my website www.lotteduncan.com
For those of you who can't make one of my days (shame on you!), here is the recipe. You're getting a bit of a preview. It's in my book, however since that's not out until the spring, I thought it wouldn't be fair if you missed another year without my Winter Tonic Jelly.
By the way, I wish I could say I came up with the name - but my friends Pete and Sue did. Fabulous.
Winter Tonic Jelly
1 large saucepan or preserving pan
Windfall apples - cut into quarters. Don’t peel or core, it all goes in
Damsons or plums
Blackcurrants left over from the summer
2 lemons – cut in half
3 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
A small piece of muslin and some string
1. Fill a large saucepan or preserving pan two-thirds full of apples, blackberries, elderberries, damsons, plums and blackcurrants. Squeeze the juice out of the lemons and add them.
2. Fill the pan with water – enough to cover the fruit.
3. Bring up to the boil and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until all the fruit is soft and pulpy.
4. I put mine in the simmering oven of the AGA all day stirring occasionally to prevent the top drying out.
5. Cool the fruit for about 10 minutes then put through a jelly bag over-night. Don’t push it through the bag as you’ll make the jelly cloudy – just let it do its own thing.
6. The next day, measure the liquid and for every 570ml/1 pint, add 450g/1lb sugar.
7. Wrap the star anise, cloves and cinnamon sticks in the muslin and tie with string. Add to the sweetened liquid.
8. Dissolve the sugar over a gentle heat and then bring up to the boil.
9. Simmer the jelly until setting point. Use a sugar thermometer or drip some jelly onto a plate straight from the freezer. If the jelly wrinkles on the plate when you put the end of a teaspoon through it, it’s at setting point. Remove the spices; pour into some sterilised jam jars and seal.
Another wonderful addition to this jelly is a sloe berry. But not just any sloe – no, these are sloes that have been steeped in gin for a year or two. When I finally get around to straining my home made sloe gin, I add the sloe berries to my jelly at the initial cooking stage, with all the other fruit. It really does add quite a zing to the jelly and goes beautifully with the spices. I hate to see good food go to waste and even though they’ve done their job with the gin, they still have something else to offer; and that... is to make this Winter Tonic Jelly just a little bit naughty.
Monday, 24 August 2009
What a plummy year it's been.
So many on two trees I didn't know I actually had.
My old plum tree had babies and I let them grow over the years, without realising they were there.
I just thought they were part of a shrubby area and a hedge. And this year? Well, they have cropped enormously and I am literally plummed out.
Plum jam is bubbling away,plum ketchup and jelly next on the list.
I recently made my plum and pistachio tart for the fire pit evening. We were doing some photography for my book. It went down a storm and my neighbour Robyn has twice made it since.
I've stripped the low branches of the trees and left the rest for the birdies and the insects.
I've got to work on the damsons, blackberries and elderberries next, along with the apples that keep falling from my other four trees. I've nearly been taken out a dozen times recently by low flying apples as I hang the washing out. It's a dangerous chore - who'd have thought I would dice with my life as I hung out my knickers!
I'm about to make some plum vodka. You might think that I spend a lot of time adding various fruits and cordials to vodka. And you might be right.
It's a little hobby - and after the plum vodka? Sloe Gin, Damson Gin and perhaps Blackberry liquer.
1lb/450g plums to 570ml/1 litre of vodka
4oz/110g caster sugar
Heat the plums and the caster sugar together with 2floz/55ml water. Place over a gentle heat and cook until the sugar has dissolved and the plums are tender.
Pour the vodka over the plums and stir. Transfer to a couple of wide mouthed kilner jars and steep in a dark place for 2 months. Strain and then bottle and drink ... it's lovely with tonic and a slice of lime or just neat.
Thursday, 20 August 2009
If so, Marcia Waters www.mw2wines.com and I are (due to popular demand!!) holding our Food and Wine Matching evening again.
I demonstrate the food, Marcia talks about the wine and how we match it - and you drink and eat!
Sounds pretty good!
In fact, it sounds so lovely you should book as soon as you can!
Friday October 23rd at 7.30pm
£50 per person (bit of a bargain)
Please email me email@example.com to book.
Sunday, 2 August 2009
I woke up today, pulled the curtains and I do believe I saw an old friend.
There he was - the prodigal sun.
About time too.
No, I won't kill the fatted calf and indulge you Sunny Jim, you should have been here for the last three weeks.
Please stay this time and ripen my tomatoes, sweeten my corn and plump my courgettes. I won't moan about the heat or complain about you ever again. If you'll just stay. Please.
The only good thing about the last few weeks of miserable weather is the fact that I've been less grumpy about all the work I've been doing. Often, just the thought of being office bound when the garden is beckoning is enough to turn a happy Lotte into a sour faced old bag!
I've been run off my feet, it's been great (I love working and being busy) and I've not missed out on the sun.
This is the reason I haven't blogged in ages - all my writing has been going in another direction - my cookery book.
It's being published in Spring 2010 by Absolute Press and I am so excited about it. I'm really enjoying the process and looking forward to the next photograpy day.
This will involve me, food, wine, a fire pit and lots of friends. It's happening next sunday - so I really am doing a sun dance in the hope that it is fine.
Fire pits don't usually stay alight for long in the rain!
I've also been to Dublin for a research trip and an amazing thirteith birthday party - with my wonderful, wonderful friends The Brownes. Always fun and usually messy! The research was for another project I'm working on - bit of a secret at the moment, but all will be revealed soon.
In the last few weeks I've also been writing recipes for Prestige (I do the recipes for their twice yearly customer magazine - Eat Drink Live!), and I did the food photograpy for it last friday.
I've recorded radio interviews with a lovely chap called John Clowes - gardening consultant for Miracle Gro.(see photograph) We spent a day locked in a recording booth together talking about the new website. www.lovethegarden.com
Brilliant for gardening tips.
Have to say, couldn't think of a nicer person to be locked into a booth with!
I also had a fabulous lunch at The Angel Restaurant. www.angelrestaurant.co.uk
The owner, the lovely Trevor Bosch asked me and Marcia Waters, (master of wine www.mw2wines.com) my friend to develop a lunch and wine menu (theme PINK, of course!) for some ladies. He regularly holds these Ladies Lunches and they are a great success.
Guess what - it absolutely poured with rain and crashed with thunder on the day, but it was great fun and the food and wine went down a treat. Pink wines with pink food.
(Apologies for the photo of this day - off my phone - forgot my proper camera - duh! I did have more of them, but managed to delete them - double duh!
In between the work I've dressed up as Doris Day, and attended a party escorted Wonder Woman where I cuddled Captain Scarlett. As you do.
So, rain aside - it's not actually been a bad few weeks. Hope you are enjoying your summer too.
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
They arrived together. Shovels in hand, boots on feet.
Grunting, posturing, swaggering and beating their chests to the rhythm of Neanderthal man.
'Woman, beer!' is all they could say as they stood over the mole-ruined pit and surveyed their potential work.
It was a warm summer's evening. The midges were out. Danger was all around.
Their primeval instincts took over as they re-dug the fire pit and bickered about where to put the stones.
Man has been building fire for thousands of years.
These men were no different.
Well, actually they were.
It all fell apart towards the end when no one could decide where to put the stones. Bits caved in, tempers, although not frayed, were a little taught and when they had left, I had to re-build a small part of it!
However, I would like to point out, that Nick, Simon and Dave are total stars.
They all live in my lane and are married to some of The Husseys.(for definition of Husseys, you need to read my archive) They are fabulous fun, lovely chaps and always there to help.
So thank you gentlemen. The fire pit has recovered from it's mole infestation. It is now ready to cook up a storm.
Here's to all the future, fabulous fire pit nights we'll have over the summer!
Monday, 29 June 2009
The Date: Saturday 27th June 2009
The Venue: My Gaff
The Guests: Ten Hens
The Theme: English Country Garden (That's lucky then!)
On Saturday we started early.
Sue (my friend, neighbour and 'Cheeky Gin Friday co-conspirator') and I erected the pergola in searing heat - with only a few choice words exclaimed at various intervals - and started decorating it with the saris I bought from Kolkata and pink and green flowers and candles.
We then moved to the kitchen to finish prepping, where my AGA - the most expensive radiator in the world - was pumping out a molten-lava-temperature that transformed my face from English rose complexion to puce, verging on a stroke, red.
A quick cold shower, a change into grown up I know what I'm doing clothes and the Hen's arrived at 4.30 for their early supper. This was to be followed by a trip into Oxford for a night at The Comedy Club and some slick moves on the dance floor.
My daughter Daisy (in between her shifts at the pub) welcomed the ladies at the door and steered them in the direction of the garden where Sue was there to pour them some extremely chilled and rather delicious English sparkling wine.
This wine was care of Chapel Down in Kent - a place I have filmed at in the past for the series Dial a Mum on ITV. Fabulous vineyard and the wine is quite frankly better than some champagnes, as are a lot of English Sparklers - cue large bolt of lightening from France!
So the Hens roosted themselves under the shade of my apple trees and clucked enormously.
Women are very good at that. We may have only just met each other, but we quickly find a common ground.
This patch of earth generally includes the ability to multi-task, the dissapointment of our husband's DIY (and perhaps 'other') skills, schools, children, sex, food, wine, bit more sex...more wine....sex...a little more wine...and yes, you've guessed it...sex!
Yes gentlemen, when you think we are talking about flowers, children, school grades, recipe swaps and cleaning - what we are really conversing about is sex. Lots of it, lack of it and more of it! Hah!
Right back to the food.
The starter was my English Herb and Flower Salad with Goat's Cheese, Bacon and Beetroot in a rapeseed and Alegar Dressing, spiked with wholegrain mustard and sweetened with a little maple syrup. (Alegar vinegar is made my my friend Alan Coxon..go on google it!) I served this with some home-made bread and butter.
Main was Pork with Green Peas. Originally this dish was Duck with Peas and a favourite dish of Queen Anne, a renowned glutton. I have tweaked it, removed the fatty duck and added tons of mint to freshen the dish. I also have apples and cider in my version. In fact when you look at it, the only resemblance to the original dish is the peas! Tastes delicious though and will be in my forthcoming book, along with all the other recipes.
Sue worked like a trojan, serving and clearing the table, pouring wine and generally being bloody marvellous. Absolutely couldn't have done it without her.
Pudding raised a few sighs and lusty comments. I didn't know a pink meringue covered in glitter and served with local raspberries, strawberries and clouds of whipped elderflower cream could invoke such an emotional reaction.
Actually of course I did, which is exactly why I made them.
Gentlemen, once again I want to open your eyes to girl life.
If you were present at a pink meringue feast, we would hold back, not wanting to look gluttonous or out of control.
But without you there, we turn into she-devils with lustful meringue intentions that would bring tears to your eyes. We bury our faces in the marshmallowy centres, smear the fluffy elderflower cream over our lips and tumble handfuls of berries into our mouths a rapid intervals. We are primeval, rabid and completely gorge-ous!
We won't do this in front of you though, we want you to think we're ladies.
Nicky was chief Hen and organised the whole event for Cat who's getting married in Norway in July. Cat, with her future husband own the 'Little Italy' cafes that are at Bicester North and Haddenham and Thame Parkway railway stations and in the village of Haddenham in Buckinghamshire. If you are lucky enough to arrive or leave from one of these stations, you'll always get fabulous friendly service from truly lovely people.
Nicky really did pull off a fabulous day for Cat and rallied the troops or should I say herded the birds together, after the coffee, into the taxis to finish off the party in Oxford.
Sue and I polished off the unfinished bottle of fizz while we cleared and then some of my other neighbours arrived and we sat under the pergola, whilst it rained and had a barbecue, cooked by Simon and Robyn.
The thunder clapped, fork lightening cracked on the horizon and we were only mildly concerned about the pergola's metal frame surrounding us (wine does that!).
It was such a lovely day and it proves that when the sun shines, the wine flows and you have a gathering of good friends, there really is no where I would rather be than in England.
The pictures above show the Hen party, followed by the BBQ... please click on each photo for a close up