Over the land (and in the kitchen) is April

Over the land is April 

Coconut and pine nut cookies

Over the land is April,
Over my heart a rose;
Over the high, brown mountain
The sound of singing goes.

Thanks to Robert Louis Stevenson for the title of this entry.

April activity

This month I made Chetna Makan's coconut and pine nut cookies. Distracted by something, I left them in the oven a little too long. Even so, I quite liked them but I'm not sure that my tasting audience was hugely impressed.

Easter bark with Smarties
I haven't bought a copy of Good Housekeeping for a long time so I treated myself to the April 2017 issue. There were lots of tempting chocolate cake recipes but I opted for the fairly straightforward Easter bark recipe. I made two batches: one with the suggested chopped mini eggs, the other with chopped up Smarties. These were very much appreciated by my tasting audience.

Sometimes I have to remind myself of why I started writing this blog: to encourage myself to work through The Soup Book. Starting in December 2009 I worked my way through 170 of the 200 recipes. Nowadays I dip into the book occasionally. My most recent dip was into the fish recipe section. I made cotriade again (previously made in 2010 and 2014). When shopping for fish, the young man in the supermarket guessed I was going to make a fish soup and tried to persuade me to buy some pre-packed fish mix. I can't say I liked the look of the packs so I persuaded him to let me choose my own whole pieces of fish. The recipe in The Soup Book is quite simple but if anyone is interested in a more complex version here's a link to the French Country Food website recipe.

Scandinavian banana cake
My star bake this month was Bronte Aurell's Scandinavian banana cake. Absolutely luscious. Anyone who is scared of butter and sugar, look away now. 

Spiced quails eggs

The May bank holiday weekend began in April. The spouse and I invited the mother-in-law and an old friend for supper. Himself having been rather unwell lately, I was in charge of the menu and the cooking. Flicking through some of our older cookery books, I chose to make spiced quails eggs (Jane Dupleix's Simple Food), Rick Stein's jambalaya (Fiona Beckett's Sausage and Mash) and Nigella Lawson's ginger passionfruit trifle (Nigella Express). What a celebrity line-up! 

Tracking down quails eggs proved tricky. I have often seen them on display in the butcher's shop we go to. Of course, when I wanted to buy some they weren't available. The spouse put in a query and the butcher kindly checked with another branch: no, none there either. It was also proving difficult to get hold of ginger wine for the trifle. A local off-licence didn't appear to understand what I was talking about. The spouse rang a few other off-licences and found a few suggestions for substitutions. Eventually I bought low-sugar ginger beer in good old M&S. I also found an abundance of quails eggs in a butcher's shop in Moore Street. 

Ginger passionfruit trifle
Spiced quails eggs are very simple to make: hard boil then chill the eggs; peel (the fiddly part); slice the rounded end off so that the eggs will sit up; dip in smoked paprika and top with a flake of sea salt. 

If you can find the recipe for the ginger passionfruit trifle (I found the US version on line. NB, pound cake = madeira cake and heavy cream = double cream), I would advise you to use more of the ginger wine (or ginger beer) than stated. For a less horrifyingly calorific version, I used half double cream and half low-fat creme fraiche. A very simple and impressive dessert. 

Over and out. 



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