January Jottings

Butternut squash and shallots
roasted with smoked paprika and caraway seeds

Puffed Up with Pride

My first new recipe of 2017 was from Norfolk's Own Cookbook: Everything Stops for Tea. The book practically fell open at "Sausage rolls with roasted vegetables." There were some unused shallots and carrots in the fridge, smoked paprika, and a few of the other listed ingredients in our cupboard. At the butcher's I asked for sausagemeat and was given the choice of having the meat removed from prepared sausages or a lump of frozen meat. I chose the former but not happily. 
Sausage and roasted vegetable rolls

Butternut squash - the tough nut of vegetables. You have to batter through the skin with a sharp knife. Then the dicing begins. Carrots are grated. Oh, the anxiety! Will I sever a finger or break a nail? Phew! I got through the prep work with no mishaps. 

I can't remember when I last used puff pastry. I thawed out a packet for the sausage rolls - who has time to make puff pastry from scratch? Although I used more than the quantity specified in the recipe, I didn't think I was going to have enough. I needn't have worried. The end product was really tasty. A little fiddly but worth the effort. 

Re-Pearing the Damage

Chetna Makan provided me with the first sweet recipe of 2017: pear and cardamom caramel upside-down cake. In April 2016 I had difficult time with a different pear and caramel cake: the caramel was too hard and the batter refused to cook. On this occasion I was much more successful. 

Crushing the cardmom seeds - the aroma is indescribable but the sight and smell reminds me of my childhood and my parents' delicious curries. The cake was very good. Not too fiddly. I would have like the sugar in the caramel to have dissolved but the spouse and the younger offspring were happy with the caramel as it was. The spouse has put this cake on the "make again" list. 

Pear and cardamom caramel upside-down cake

A day later the cake is still lovely and moist and the cardamom has worked even more magic into the caramel and beyond. 

My second Chetna cake in January was her carrot and banana spiced cake. One of my colleagues asked to bake something for her to cheer her up so I agreed. She wasn't the only one to benefit. People may be cautious about the butter and sugar but it hasn't held them back from sampling the finished products. 

Soups to Try

This recipe for green peppercorn and lemongrass coconut broth by Anna Jones sounds good. It was published in The Guardian (7th January 2017) and I found it on line on The Sunday Times website (3rd January). 

Dipping back into The Soup Book for inspiration, I made sausage and bean soup and Mexican chilli bean soup again. Very good. 

Yeast is Yeast 

Right. To overcome my fear - a slight exaggeration - or nervousness about baking with yeast, I've decided to start reading about it. The spouse and I were on the brink of culling our cookery books as our kitchen shelves are overflowing with them. The spouse has four books by Elizabeth David, one of which is entitled English Bread and Yeast Cookery and was first published forty years ago.  In the chapter about yeast there is a section on buying and storing dried yeast. I was amused by her comments on the American custom of date-stamping dry yeast packages with the recommended final date of use and the cavalier attitude of some British bakeries to the stocking of yeast: 
Although this doesn't necessarily mean that the yeast isn't still active ... the system does provide a useful protection for the customer. Given our [British] traditionally carefree attitude to such matters, it would be surprising if any similar rule were ever enforced here. Even without it, to have a supply of dried yeast in store gives a welcome sense of security and of liberation from those bakery ladies who sometimes will and more often will not sell fresh yeast. 
I have now bought a small supply of dried yeast and a bag of strong flour. I should take it from there.

Scandi Treats

Another new cookery book on my shelves is Fika and Hygge by Bronte Aurell. The first recipe I tried was for brownies. Instead of walnuts you can substitute dried fruit, chopped Daim bars, liquorice allsorts ... I chose coconut ice which made the brownies a little too sweet. Still, no one complained. 

So, that's it. I've already started on my February baking. It's a short month. 

Bye for now. 



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