Savoury scones – for a change!

Everyone thinks of scones as a Devon tea time treat with jam and clotted cream, but they are equally delicious with cheese and in this case bacon – dead easy to make and these were very well received!!

Bacon and cheese scones

  • 250g Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 60g cold butter
  • 120g diced cheese
  • 70g or good handful of fresh chives
  • 220g cooked bacon
  • 200ml double cream (plus extra for brushing)

Preheat oven to 220ºc (200ºc fan).

Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Add the butter and use your hands to make a coarse crumble mix. Add the cheese, chives and bacon and mix, then add the cream until the mixture comes together.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and use your hands to press the dough down to about 1 inch thick, then cut about 12 rounds using a cutter, brush the tops with the extra cream, place in the oven and bake for about 30 mins.

 

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Delicious light, savoury bites

Most of the time I tend to show you sweet things, so I thought we should redress the balance with something savoury! These smoked salmon and cream cheese bites are delicious and easy to eat if you are balancing a glass in one hand – or if you tend to have more casual family gatherings as I do –they can just be arranged on a plate as part of a cold meal. But do give them a try!

I also ended up making some tiny chocolate éclairs – for the simple reason there was too much choux pastry just to make the salmon bites… and my mind obviously went to chocolate (oops)!

Savoury choux buns

Choux buns:

  • 75g butter
  • 200ml cold water
  • 125g plain flour
  • 3 eggs

Filling:

  • 200g cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives
  • 50g smoked salmon (diced)

Preheat oven to 200ºc.

Melt the butter in a pan with the cold water and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour, using a wooden spoon, until well combined (about 3 mins). Add the eggs a little at a time whisking constantly. Put the mixture into a piping bag/gun and pipe 3cm balls onto a non-stick baking tray, leaving a space double that size between each one. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 mins.

For the filling combine cheese, chives and smoked salmon then once choux buns are completely cooled cut off the tops and pipe in filling.

Mini éclairs:

As I had enough choux mixture left over I made some mini éclairs, I piped 5cm lengths instead of balls and baked for the same time, then once cooled filled with fresh cream and topped with chocolate.

 

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A summer soup…

My foraging friend Julia Horton-Powdrill is always introducing new seasonal recipes for either things she’s grown in her veg garden or foraged from some passing hedgerow, beach or field margin.

She currently has an excellent pea crop and, while they are delicious cooked and cooled and added to a green salad, she has also used them in a lovely soup that can be enjoyed hot or cold. It combines the sweetness of the peas with the zing of wild mint! As you will know, mint is a terribly over-enthusiastic plant, so either grow in a pot to try and contain it, or find some growing wild, as Julia has done here.

Wild mint & pea soup

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + extra for serving
  • 25g butter
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced or/and wild garlic leaves
  • 750g fresh peas, shelled (frozen peas are great!!)
  • 75g wild mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preparation:

Gently heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan, add the chopped onion and cook on a gentle heat for 10 minutes or until the onion is soft but not brown. Add the garlic (if using) and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Add 3/4 of the peas, the chopped mint leaves, the wild garlic leaves (if using) and 3/4 stock. Cover the saucepan with a tight fitting lid and cook on a medium boil for 10 minutes.

Blend the soup in a food processor; you will have a thick purée. Return the purée to the pan, season with salt and pepper and add the remaining peas and stock. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

Serve with crusty, fresh bread.

This soup is absolutely delicious hot or cold.

You can find out more about Julia’s foraging courses here.

 

 

 

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Peonies & clematis… a little bit different!

Much as I love looking at my flowers in the garden, it seems a shame that so many of them are out of sight when you are in the house and so I really enjoy bringing them indoors even if they are likely to be short lived.

I have this arrangement on my desk and it brings me huge pleasure every time I look at it. Peonies are such an amazing flower – and the stems of clematis wrapped around the arrangement just bring a careless country feel to it.

Start with a glass cube vase – they’re endlessly useful and can be bought from garden centres, Ikea and numerous other household type places. Soak some green Oasis in water for an hour or so while you are picking the flowers. Then place the well soaked Oasis in the cube and top up with a couple of inches of water. Take a large wide leaf – it could be a fern, an exotic plant in the garden like a banana leaf or a palm. We are lucky down here and the temperate climate (sometimes!) allows these plants to flourish.  Fix it with a folded hairpin of wire. Then place the peonies low and spread across the vase – in this arrangement I used six. I would usually stick to an odd number but I just couldn’t fit the seventh one in so put it in a bud vase!

The freesias in the arrangement were not from the garden, I cheated as I saw a small bunch in the supermarket and couldn’t resist! Finally cut some long strands of clematis and wind around the vase, again holding in place with wire. I made the clematis into a sort of mini wreath and then lowered it over the flowers and tucked just one long wire hairpin into the oasis to make sure it didn’t slip.

Just something pretty and a little bit different!

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My Top 10 TV Series…

Richard and I seem to watch a fairly small amount of TV – it’s the old problem of nothing being on when we want to sit and watch and then missing really good things because we are away or working. So we have started buying whole TV series or recording them to watch when it suits us – here are my Top Ten TV series that I have been watching lately – all of them are available on DVDs so you can buy them fairly cheaply on eBay or Amazon!

  1. Castle – a detective series where the two detectives fall in love…. the actor Nathan Fillion is rather nice looking too!
  2. Nashville – a relatively new series based in Nashville about country music – lovely actors and the soundtrack is wonderful – can you tell I am a country fan?Well it seems lots of other people liked it too as they have commissioned a second series.
  3. House – a medical puzzle series with Hugh Laurie. I have long been a fan of his, and this is just wonderful!
  4. The Good Wife – a series about a strong woman. Lovely actress Julianna Margulies plays a lawyer and we were fascinated by this one.
  5. The Big Bang Theory – if you have a geeky husband and relations as I do, this makes me laugh over and over, far too close for comfort on some of the characters! It’s about a group of scientists that share a flat and friendships, while working at a university in the research departments.
  6. Grey’s Anatomy – another medical drama. I am watching this one currently and really enjoying it, another good looking actor to spot, Patrick Dempsey. There are umpteen (well nine) series so far, so it must be well-loved.
  7. Game of Thrones – when Richard first started watching this I thought I would do some crafting and keep out of the way but I found myself drawn into it and really enjoyed it.
  8. Merlin – the best ever portrayal of the Arthurian legend in my opinion – I just love it! 
  9. The Inspector Morse series – I know these are quite old, but they were beautifully written, filmed and acted and I still enjoy them. Wasn’t John Thaw an amazing actor?
  10. The Blackadder series – last but not least! I have to include Blackadder – old and often watched, but I still laugh and the comedians are all such world-class talented guys. Very British humour and priceless!

Do you have any favourites?

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