Strawberry Feast

We had a lovely relaxing barbeque in the garden with family this weekend.

It was great to bask in the sunshine and simply relax and enjoy being at home.

After the compulsory burger and sausage we enjoyed bowlfuls of fantastic British strawberries. Mmmmm. They have to be one of my all time favourite fruit. I love them served simply with just a tiny sprinkle of brown sugar.

There are many recipes which make the most of this precious seasonal favourite but I particularly like the Courting Cake (see recipe below) from Around Britain Dairy Cookbook. It looks so impressive and well as tasting amazing. I might have to make this again before the strawberry season finishes. It would originally have been baked by young ladies for their betrothed so I had better be careful who I bake it for!

Try this fabulous Courting Cake recipe.

Any suggestions for wonderful strawberry recipes are gratefully received!

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Courting Cake

Courting cake

Courting cake

This attractive cake was originally baked by young ladies for their betrothed.

It is a real summer treat.  Bake it in August, when strawberries should be good value.

Suitable for freezing
Prep time 10 mins
Cook time 25 mins

Makes 16 slices

Butter 225g (8oz)

Caster sugar 225g (8oz)
Eggs 4, beaten
Self-raising flour 350g (12oz)
Milk 2-3 tbsp
Double cream 300ml (10fl oz)
Strawberries 225g (8oz), sliced
Icing sugar to dust the cake

1 Grease and line three 18cm (7in) round sandwich cake tins.  Preheat the oven to 190C 375F gas 5.

2 Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition.  Fold in the flour, and then add enough milk to give a dropping consistency.

3 Divide the mixture between the three cake tins and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until well risen and firm.  Turn out and leave to cool on a wire rack.

4 Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks.  Sandwich the cakes together with the cream and strawberries, reserving a few for decoration.  Dredge the top with icing sugar and decorate with strawberries.

Cook’s tips

If you only have two sandwich tins follow the method using 175g (6oz) each of butter, sugar and flour, 3 eggs and 2 tablespoons of milk.  Cook at 180C 350F Gas 4 for 20-25 minutes.

Decorate just before serving before the strawberry juices start to run and discolour the cream.

Freeze cakes before decorating.

Taken from Around Britain Dairy Cookbook

Marvellous Mash

I think I am obsessed with mashed potato! As mum to a young son (who is 18 months old) I try to cook food that will appeal to both of us.

My staple at the moment seems to be potato mashed with Laughing Cow cheese and butter, served with baked beans. Not a culinary masterpiece but Isaac loves it!

It is now my mission to make some new variations on mash and to serve it with other things for a change. I have looked back at some of our previous books and found some unusual suggestions. In fact one of our recipe writers has suggested a lovely twist on mash for our next cookbook – you will have to wait and see what that is!

The quality of potato makes a huge difference to taste. I had a delicious variety a while back called Anya. Anya was specially bred on the banks of the river Tay just outside Dundee and is a result of a cross between Pink Fur Apple and Desiree potatoes. Lord Sainsbury’s gardener grew the new variety for the first time in 1995, and liked it so much that he suggested it be called Anya after Lady Sainsbury!

How delightful and how many of us can say we have had a potato named after us?!

Have you tasted Champ mashed potatoes? Try it, I think you’ll love it.

Can you suggest your favourite potato variety for mash, and what do you add to yours?

Champ

The ultimate mashed potato recipe

Wonderful Champ mashed potatoes

Spring onions transform ‘ordinary’ mashed potatoes into something rather special.

Serves 2

Potatoes 450g (1lb), peeled and quartered
Spring onions 5, trimmed and finely sliced
Milk 150ml (1/4 pint)
Unsalted butter 50g (2oz)
Double cream 60ml (2fl oz)

Potatoes 450g (1lb), peeled and quartered
Spring onions 5, trimmed and finely sliced
Milk 150ml ( ¼ pint)
Unsalted butter 50g (2oz)
Double cream 60ml (2fl oz)

1 Boil potatoes for 15-20 minutes in salted water until tender when tested with a knife.

2 Soften spring onions in simmering milk for 2-3 minutes, drain.

3 Drain and dry potatoes over a low heat. Cover with a lid and shake to start breaking up.

4 Add butter and cream, a little at a time, while mashing the potatoes. Season and mash until fluffy and creamy. Stir in spring onions and serve.

Find more scrumptious recipes in the Dairy Cookbooks.

Hand-made Birthday Cards

Hand-made birthday card

Hand-made birthday card

One of this week’s tasks for the Dairy Diary was great. I escaped copy-writing and management for a day and got my teeth into some card-making.

It was hard to believe I got paid for having so much fun!

For the 2011 Dairy Diary I am putting together a feature on how to make inexpensive cards. I managed to make use of old ribbons, buttons and even wool that I have leftover at home. They looked pretty good when I had finished them (if I do say so myself!)

In the future I am going to try and be really thrifty and save lots of odds and ends in a craft box to use on hand-made cards. Whether I will actually find to time to make another card who knows!

As I was working from home I took to opportunity to test one of the recipes for the 2011 Dairy Diary too – Tasty Tomato Potatoes – easy, healthy and yummy. Try it and tell me what you think.

Do we have any budding card-makers out there and what inexpensive (or free) materials do you use for your craft projects?

Tasty Tomato Potatoes

Tasty Tomato Potatoes

Tasty Tomato Potatoes

Baked potatoes filled with a delicious tomato, onion and cheese filling. Mmmmm.

Time 35 mins
Serves 4

Baking potatoes 4
Butter 25g (1oz)
Tomatoes 4, skinned and finely chopped
Spring onions 6, trimmed and sliced
Cheddar cheese 175g (6oz), grated
Double Gloucester cheese 50g (2oz), grated
Eggs 2, beaten

1 Preheat the oven the 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Cook the potatoes in the microwave for 5 minutes. Then bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

2 Melt butter in a small pan, add tomatoes and onions and cook for 5 minutes until softened, stirring, until most liquid has evaporated.

3 Mix cheese and eggs together, add to pan and stir continuously over a low heat until thickened.

4 Split open each baked potato and top with cheese mixture.

Find more scrumptious recipes in the Dairy Cookbooks.

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