Friday 30 November 2012

St Andrew's Day - Scottish Fayre

30th November - Saint Andrew's Day

Apparently, shortbread is the traditional bridal cake in Scotland and it's one of the easiest and most satisfying sweets you can make. It only has three ingredients so what are you waiting for?

Get a large bowl and sieve 9 oz of plain flour into it. Add 3 oz of caster sugar and mix well.  Then add 6oz of best butter, rub it in and knead into a smooth paste. Divide into two pieces and press each one into a 7 inch tin.  It should be about half and inch thick (that's just over a centimetre).

Bake in a moderate oven, 180°C, 350°F, gas 4 for about 20-30 minutes until pale gold.

When you remove the shortbread from the oven, mark it into portions whilst it's still soft and you can prick it with a fork too. Sprinkle with caster sugar and leave to cool.

Enjoy your delicious shortbread with a nice cup of tea whilst you read all about Saint Andrew:

Saint Andrew

Around the middle of the tenth century,  Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland and has his feast day on 30th November. 

As Scotland developed as a nation, it needed a national symbol. The early Picts and Scots modelled themselves on Saint Andrew and so this was the country's choice. 

Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter, by which it is inferred that he was likewise a son of Jonah, or John.[Mt. 16:17] [Jn. 1:42]  He was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee.[Jn. 1:44] Both he and his brother Peter were fishermen by trade, hence the tradition that Jesus called them to be his disciples by saying that he will make them "fishers of men".  At the beginning of Jesus' public life, they were said to have occupied the same house at Capernaum.[Mk. 1:21-29]
John's Gospel states that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him and John the Evangelist to follow Jesus.[Jn. 1:35-40]  Andrew at once recognised Jesus as the  Messiah, and hurried to introduce him to his brother.[Jn. 1:41]  From then on the two brothers were disciples of Christ. On a subsequent occasion, prior to the final call to the Apostolate, they were called to a closer companionship, and then they left all things to follow Jesus.
Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras (Patræ) in Achaea which is on the northern coast of the Peloponnese. Early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew, describe him as being bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified; yet a tradition developed that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called Crux decussata ( an X-shaped cross, or "saltire"), now commonly known as a Saint Andrew's Cross — supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been.

The flag of Scotland, and consequently the Union Flag and the arms and flag of Nova Scotia, feature St. Andrew's saltire cross.

St. Andrew’s Day:  30th November
Let's all have a wee dram and raise a glass to St Andrew

 For a fabulous Advent Calendar packed with facts and recipes, please click here

Thursday 29 November 2012

Lemon Fridge Cake

The other day I was asked for a recipe for a dessert which had never before graced the tables at Fancy Pans. I always used to make this pudding on Christmas Eve - no idea why as it is really a light, summery pudding - perhaps it's because it can be made the day before and is so quick and simple it doesn't mean spending hours in the kitchen - and you can't burn it.

Lemon Fridge Cake will definitely be on the trolley this year for our Advent and Christmas fare.  If you would like to give it a go, here's what you do:

Lemon Fridge Cake                          

This is a ‘make it the day before’ recipe.

You’ll need a 1lb loaf tin for this yummy dessert. You can grease it with butter or I find it easier to line it with cling-film (leave plenty of over-hang to cover).
Take four fresh eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. Put the whites to one side (you can make meringues later). Whisk the yolks up a bit.
Now take two lemons, un-waxed if possible, and pop them into the microwave for about thirty seconds. This makes them more juicy. You will need both the juice and the zest from said lemons, so which way round you prepare these is entirely up to you. Juice first then zest, or zest first then juice.
Hopefully, you will have left some butter out of the fridge so it’s at room temperature. Put 4oz of said butter into a bowl and pour on 4oz of caster sugar. Give them a good pounding so that they are creamed together nicely.
Then add the beaten egg yolks, lemon juice and zest and beat the mix really well. An electric mixer works wonders here (unless you want  biceps and triceps like footballs). The resultant mix should be fluffy and very pale (and so would you be after such a beating).
Now, hopefully you have been to the shops and bought some sponge fingers, or been baking fat-less sponges and have a ready supply. Place a layer of the sponges into the base of the loaf tin. Spoon on half the mixture until fingers are covered (the sponge fingers, not yours) then add another layer of sponge, top with the rest of the mixture and put a final layer of sponge on the top of that.
If you have used cling-film, pull the film over the top to seal it in all snugly and pop into the fridge overnight.
You may now lick your fingers.
Before you serve this gorgeous lemony, sweet, heavenly dessert, you will need to whisk up about half a pint (285 gm) of cream – whipping or double.
Then, turn the cake out onto a serving plate, pull off the cling-film and cover with the whipped cream. To make it extra naughty you could sprinkle the top with chocolate (break up a flake) or you can use something clever like strips of lemon zest or some toasted nuts – but I prefer the chocolate.
Et voila! 
 Individual ones look good too:
 If you aren’t going to serve it immediately, keep it in the fridge.

Ingredient re-cap:

4 fresh eggs – separated

4oz butter (unsalted is best)

2 packets of trifle sponges (or home-make fat-less sponge)

2 lemons (un-waxed if poss)

½ pint double cream (around 285 gm)

Chocolate flakes

Now for that lemon meringue pie.  To see the Lemon Fridge cake with meringue topping instead of cream - click here - it will also take you to the Lemon Meringue Pie recipe.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Rabbit Stew and Dumplings (or not)

This recipe has stirred up a childhood memory of mine:
My brother wanted a rabbit.  He had made the usual promises to ‘look after it’ – feed it, clean it out, - as you do, so Gran took him to a local farmer and rabbit breeder to choose one. 
 He brought home a lovely doe, white with brown markings, and kept his promise to look after her. What he hadn’t known though, was that she was pregnant and shortly after her arrival, there was soon a writhing nest of fluffiness at the back of her hutch.  She produced eight beautiful kittens (yes, baby bunnies are called kittens) and most of them found homes.

 One lunch-time, when Dad said all the rabbits had now gone and just mother rabbit (Mabel) was left, Mum had made stew for dinner. It smelt delicious and Mum began to serve it with new potatoes and green beans - fresh from the garden. I looked at my plate, and then at Mum and asked what kind of stew it was, to be told, as I had feared, ‘Rabbit Stew’. I said I wasn’t hungry and would just have the vegetables, but  my brother declared:

            “It was my rabbit, so I want the most!” – which he has never been allowed to forget.

 As Mabel was thereafter a solitary soul, she never did meet the buck of her dreams (again) and remained a celebate rabbit for the rest of her life - for which I actually think she was grateful. My brother discovered football so Mabel became mine and lived out her days feasting on dandelions and lettuce.
Rabbit Stew (or not) and dumplings at FancyPans
Colder days at FancyPans call for warm, comforting dishes and chef decided Rabbit Stew would be served. If you can't get  here to try it, you can have a go at making it yourself.

To make (Rabbit) Stew, you will need a casserole dish large enough to contain the ingredients, leaving three to four inches between the stew and the lid.

Take the pieces of rabbit (or not – chicken is a good substitute, or you can use any meat, beef, lamb – but then it becomes more of a hot-pot – or a selection of root-vegetables like swede, parsnip, sweet-potato, if you prefer a meat-less treat) and coat them in seasoned flour.

Melt a good scoop of dripping in a large casserole dish (or use vegetable oil if preferred) and fry the meat to seal it.  Remove from the dish for a moment whilst you chop an onion and fry that until it is soft (but not brown). Put the meat back into the pan (or vegetables if you are no carnivore) and add two sliced carrots and a couple of sticks of chopped celery.

You then need to add enough stock to cover the meat and veg – you can either buy stock or use stock-cubes and make the correct quantity up with boiling water. Chicken stock is best, (or vegetable if you are veggie - obviously). Add a few sprigs of thyme, put the lid on and pop it into the oven at around 160C for about an hour-and-a-half.

Whilst the casserole is simmering, make your dumplings:

Take 4oz self-raising flour (remember this is an old recipe when pounds and ounces were used), add 4oz suet  (you can get vegetarian suet too)  and season well (a good pinch of salt does the trick). At this point, you can add some chopped thyme if you would like ‘herby dumplings’.  Add about five tablespoons-full of cold water and bring the mixture together with your (clean) fingers. It needs to be a firm, but pliable, dough. Split the mix into eight and make each piece into a ball.  After the casserole has been in the oven for about an hour add the dumplings and replace the lid so that they cook in the steam as they sit on top of the stew – about twenty – thirty minutes from when you would like to eat it.

Serve with potatoes of choice (new, mashed, roasted) and some green vegetables (cabbage, green beans).


Ingredient recap:

For the stew:

Prepared rabbit (or chicken, beef, lamb or root vegetables)

Dripping (or vegetable oil)

2 large carrots – sliced

1 large-ish onion – sliced

2 sticks of celery – de-stringed and chopped

Stock (chicken or vegetable)

Chopped thyme (or a few sprigs of thyme tied together for easy removal)

For the Dumplings:

4 oz self-raising flour

4 oz suet

Salt – good pinch

5 tablespoons of cold water

(chopped herbs if desired)

© Karen Ette 2014