Theme Layout

Boxed or Wide or Framed

Theme Translation

Display Featured Slider

Featured Slider Styles

Display Grid Slider

Grid Slider Styles

Display Trending Posts

Display Author Bio


Display Instagram Footer

The Science of Cake Bakery . . .

  photo SAM_8190_zps2bc9bd69.jpg
(A Simple Butter Cake)

From time to time readers ask me why their cake sank in the middle when baking. They always say something along the lines of: "I followed the recipe perfectly, but it still sank. What did I do?!" While it's impossible for me to know exactly what happened in any specific occasion without my actually being there, and I can't pretend to be an expert baker myself, these are the top 5 things you should look out for which may help to keep your cake from sinking the next time you bake:

1. Old Baking Powder:   Baking powder may only account for a tiny percentage of your entire cake ingredients, but it can ruin the whole thing if you're not careful! Remember that baking powder only stays fresh for about 6 months to a year, so date them when you buy them, and toss and replace any containers that have been hanging around too long.

Not sure if yours is still good? Take 5 seconds to test it before you start baking by placing a teaspoon of baking powder in about a 1/2 cup of hot water. If still good, it should start to bubble rapidly. If nothing (or barely nothing) happens, it's time to head to the store.

2. Too Much Leavening: 
As counter-intuitive as it might sound, adding too much baking powder, baking soda, or yeast to a cake will cause it to sink as the amount of air that is created within the cake will be more than the structure can support and the whole thing will come crashing down.

Never add additional baking powder or other leaveners to self-raising flour or cake mixes (they already have it mixed in), and always be sure to read a recipe clearly and measure carefully.

When in doubt, remember that the average ratio for baking powder to flour is 1 to 1.5 teaspoons per cup of AP flour; so if you read a recipe that calls for something way above that, it's probably an error.

3. Overbeating:   this is probably one of the most common reasons why cakes sink. I'm not sure what it is, but we all seem to have a natural tendency towards overbeating cake batter until it is smooth and creamy. This is even easier to do when we rely on the trusty old Kitchen Aid or food processor to do our mixing for us. But beating in too much air into the batter once the dry and wet ingredients are combined will only cause the batter sink.

Go ahead and work the air in when creaming the butter, sugar, and eggs, but as soon as you add the flour mixture, remember that it's ALL about the light hand. Fold the dry ingredients through the wet only until they are just combined, then delicately divide and pour into your cake pans. If adding anything at the end (food coloring, chocolate chips, nuts, etc.), continue to work the addition through the batter as gently as possible in a flowing folding motion.

4. Oven Temperature: an oven that isn't properly calibrated and runs either too hot or too cold, could easily make for a falling cake. If possible, spring for an external oven thermometer (you can find them in the $15-$30 range at stores like Bed, Bath, and Beyond) to make sure that when it says 350 on the dial, it's really 350 inside the oven.

Also, don't be tempted to peek inside that oven for at least the first 80% of the suggested baking time. Remember that each time you open the oven door, the temperature inside can drop as many as 10 degrees. These tiny fluctuations in temperature can affect the even rising of the cake. 

5. Timing Unless a recipe specifically calls for it, don't let a finished batter sit for very long before baking. 20-25 minutes while the first batch bakes is fine; a few hours while you run out to pick up the kids and finish some errands is not. I always strive to have my cakes in the oven as soon as I have finished mixing them, unless of course I have been otherwise instructed in a recipe.

Remember that the minute the wet and dry ingredients meet, a chemical reaction starts to take place (like those baking soda volcanoes we all made in 7th grade science class). To get a light, fluffy, and beautifully raised cake, you want that chemical reaction to take place inside the oven as the cake bakes so that the air that is created gets sealed into the baking cake. If your batter is sitting on the counter or on the fridge, the air created inside will just escape into the room, and come time for baking, there will be less to lift the cake up.

(Irish Apple Cake)

And... a few bonus tips!

Preheating IS important. Depending on your oven, it can take as long as 30 minutes for it to reach the optimal baking temperature. Always be sure to do that first before getting on with your recipe or you'll end up with an uneven, lumpy cake.

Baking Powder and Baking Soda are NOT interchangeable. Though baking powder contains baking soda, it also has other components that act as a catalyst for all that good air-creating cake-rising action, and is used in recipes that don't have acidic elements. Baking soda usually works along with an acid (lemon juice, buttermilk, yogurt, chocolate, etc.). Some recipes call for both, but that doesn't mean that you can skip one or the other; if it calls for both, be sure to use both.   

(A Lemon and Pistachio Cake)

Center your oven rack. Unless otherwise told, position your oven rack in the center and place the cake pans right in the middle of the rack. If baking two cake layers at once, place them on the same rack side-by-side; don't put one on top of the other; they won't bake evenly that way.

As much as possible have all your ingredients at room temperature. I know it is very tempting to want to be in a rush and to think that it can't possibly hurt if all of your ingredients are at different temps.  When it comes to the science of baking however, this variance in temperature between ingredients can make a really big difference when it comes to the end result. Bake a cake with frigid butter and eggs and you may end up with something resembling a pancake. That’s why some recipes call for “room temperature” ingredients, a frustratingly general concept, especially from a scientific point of view.  Baking with room temperature butter helps to create "fluffiness."  Too warm or too cold butter can result in either too few air bubbles, or air bubbles with don't hold their shape and flatten quickly. 

Eggs are also crucial in giving loft to baked goods. The white of the egg is 90 percent water and 10 percent protein; when you beat an egg, it’s the protein that traps the air bubbles, and when incorporated into baked goods, these bubbles expand in the heat of the oven. Egg whites can be whipped up to eight times their volume, but this maximum air-trapping happens only when the eggs are warm; in warm eggs, the whites and yolks are looser, so it’s easier to incorporate air into them (which is the whole point).

Warmer eggs are also better when you’re mixing batter for cakes and cookies, because if you introduce cold eggs to a warmer butter-sugar mixture, the fat in the butter could harden. That would impede integration of the butter and eggs, which is why you’re creaming them to begin with.

But you do want your eggs to be cold if you need to separate the whites and yolks. Cold eggs are easier to separate, so if your recipe calls for the yolks and whites to be separated, do it before warming the eggs. 

So now that I have told you all that I can about the science of baking and shared all of my wisdom in great cake bakery, I think it's only fair that I share my absolute favourite cake recipe with you.

 It's a deliciously buttery sponge, filled with fresh raspberries and baked into two moist layers. Sandwiched together with a lovely vanilla butter cream icing and some seedless raspberry jam, and then drizzled with more sweetness. This is one very moreishly scrummy cake.

 photo RaspberryCelebrationCake_zpse7f09bfd.jpg

 *Raspberry Celebration Cake*
Cuts into 12 scrummy slices
Printable Recipe

This is the cake I always bake for summer birthdays.  A light moist sponge, filled with lovely raspberries, butter cream icing and seedless raspberry preserves.  Top with a sweet glaze and serve with more raspberries.

For the Cake:
175g of caster sugar (3/4 plus 1/8 cup)
175g of butter, softened (13 TBS)
4 large free range eggs, separated
100g self raising flour (a scant 3/4 cup)
1 tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds (1 scan't cup)
a few drops of almond extract
125g of fresh raspberries (a heaped cup)

For the buttercream:
75g of butter, softened (1/4 cup approx.)
125g icing sugar, sifted (about 3/4 cup)
few drops vanilla

For the glaze:
100ml icing sugar sifted (1/3 cup approx.)
water to thin 


Also about 4 heaped dessertspoons of seedless raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/Gas mark 4.  Butter two 8 inch sandwich cake tins.  Line the bottoms with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolks.  Sift the flour and baking powder over the creamed mixture and then fold in using a metal spoon.   Fold in the ground almonds and exract.  Fold only until all traces of the flour have disappeared.

Beat the egg whites until they just hold their shape.  Fold them in gently, by thirds, being careful not to overmix and lose the lightness of the whites.  Lightly fold in the berries.  Divide between the two prepared cake tins and level off carefully.

Bake in the heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, just until they test done.  A toothpick inserted in the centre should come out clean and they should spring back when lightly touched on top.

Remove from the oven.  Let cool in the tins for five minutes, then tip out onto wire racks, peel off the baking paper and allow to cool completely.

Make the buttercream by beating together all the ingredients until smooth and creamy.

Place one cake, bottom side up on a cake plate.  Spread completely with all the buttercream.  Spread the raspberry jam over top of the buttercream and then top with the other cake layer, placing it right side up.  Whisk together the icing sugar for the glaze and enough water to make a smooth drizzable mixture.  Drizzle decoratively over the top of the cake.  Allow to set, then dust with more icing sugar if desired.

Have a great weekend!
Marie Rayner
Share :

Sun Dried Tomato, Rocket & Goats Cheese Pasta

   photo SAM_0212_zpsef5f973d.jpg

Right about the time this gets posted today, the Toddster and I will be heading on down to Sommerset to the Yeo Valley Farm for a day which we hope will be informative and fun.  So . . . I'm not really here at the moment.  I'm probably somewhere in the middle of the UK on a train in transit.

One of my favourite things about blogging is having the opportunity to try out new things.  I was recently sent some gluten free products from Orgran to try.  I was quite excited to do this.   We have some friends with a son who is gluten intolerant and I know how much they struggle in trying to conform to his diet.  It's not been very easy for them.

Orgran is known to be a Pioneer in the Gluten Free Industry, offering products that are not only gluten free, but also healthy and nutritional.  Not only are their products gluten free, but they are also wheat free, dairy free, GMO free, egg free, yeast free and vegan.

I was sent a package of their Buckwheat Pasta Spirals to trial and a package of their Buckwheat Pancake Mix.

I have to say upfront, I don't like buckwheat pancakes.  At least not the kind that used to come in the Aunt Jemima packet back home.  It had a funny flavour, which I wasn't all that fond of and I was a bit skeptical when it came to these things, but I was willing to give it a go.

My sister is very pro-raw-healthy-gluten-sugar-GMO-etc free.  She made me some buckwheat grawnola clusters when I was home in April and I loved them.  I loved them so much that when I came home to the UK I sourced and found myself a bag of buckwheat to sprout.   (Haven't done it yet sis, but it's in the planning stages!!)

I love pasta as you know and so the first thing I tried was the pasta.  I developed a tasty sauce to have with it.  This sauce would be tasty on any kind of pasta and I am happy to say that it tasted really good on the buckwheat pasta.

The pasta cooked up nicely, was perfectly al dente in the time on the package directions,  and other than it being a tiny bit darker than normal pasta, it pretty much tasted the same as any pasta.  In fact if you didn't know it was made from buckwheat you could never know the difference.  It was really good.

 Buckwheat Pasta Spirals

Buckwheat Pasta Spirals
Orgran Buckwheat Pasta is a nutritious quality product naturally wheat free and gluten free. Buckwheat is not related to wheat in any way and actually belongs to the rhubarb family of plants. It is known to have the best source of high biological proteins in the plant kingdom and is highly valued for its nutritional benefits.

  photo SAM_0230_zpsd7d9215b.jpg

I chose to make a gutsy healthy sauce using sun dried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, Parmesan Cheese, Balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  I wanted a thick sauce that would tuck itself into all of those nooks and crannies.

 photo SAM_0211_zpsb508565e.jpg

I added fresh baby rocket . . . both for colour and for punch.  I love the peppery meaty flavour of rocket.  We grew some in our garden this year and it grows like a weed, which makes me a happy camper.  It can be pricey in the shops.  Stuff you grow yourself is always tastier, I think . . .

 photo SAM_0216_zps1705e30d.jpg

I added a tasty sprinkle of crumbled goats cheese, which added a depth of richness to the dish and a pleasant tang.   You could of course use another soft cheese if you are not fond of goats cheese.  We are, but ricotta would work well as would farmers cheese . . .

This was really, REALLY tasty!  And healthy too!

 photo SAM_0213_zpsc79c4657.jpg

*Sun Dried Tomato, Rocket and Goats Cheese Pasta*
Serves 4  

With it's delicious tomato pesto-like sauce, combined with the meaty pepperiness of wild rocket and the tangy richness of the goats cheese, this is a winner/winner!    

10 sun dried tomato halves, packed in oil
(you want about 3/4 of a cup)
(drain well, rinse and pat dry)
two heaped dessert spoonfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 TBS pine nuts, toasted
2 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
85ml of extra virgin olive oil (1/3 cup)
1 pound of pasta twirls
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
a couple large handfuls of wild  rocket
(wash well and spin dry)
170g of crumbled goats cheese (about 3/4 cup)  

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions.  While the pasta is cooking make the sauce, by combining the sun dried tomato halves, toasted pinenuts, cheese, balsamic vinegar and garlic in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until they are finely ground.  With the motor still running drizzle in the oil until well incorporated.  

Drain the pasta, reserving 225ml of the water (1 cup).  Return the pasta to the pot.  Add the sun dried tomato mixture along with half of the reserved pasta water.  Toss to combine.   Add the rocket and stir just to wilt, adding more pasta water as needed.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour into a large serving bowl.  Scatter the goats cheese over top and serve.  

 photo SAM_0218_zps43c7a069.jpg

They also sent me a box of their Buckwheat Pancake Mix.  I was rather skeptical about this really . . . gluten free pancakes????  Would they be any good???

It is also gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, vegan and has no added sugar.

Buckwheat Pancake Mix
Cooking and Baking
Orgran Buckwheat Pancake Mix is wholesome and contains no added cane sugar making delicious and nutritious pancakes the whole family will enjoy. Buckwheat, the main ingredient, is part of the rhubarb family of plants and considered to be the best known source of high biological protein in the plant kingdom.  

 photo SAM_0222_zps65038b5d.jpg

I was well surprised actually.  They rose up nice and beautiful . . . there was none of that horrible taste I remembered from the Aunt Jemima buckwheat pancakes that I had not been fond of . . .

  photo SAM_0224_zps5e485c31.jpg

Take a look.  A picture says a thousand words.  We enjoyed them with lashings of  pure Canadian maple syrup.  You gotta have maple syrup with pancakes don't you?  Oh, and I did add a nice little pat of butter on the top of each of our stacks.

 photo SAM_0229_zps0fe6336c.jpg

They really were quite impressive.  Light and fluffy . . . and tasty too.  Call me well impressed.

Orgran has a whole host of products which you can see here.  In the UK they are available  at most good health food stores and online via Amazon.uk as well as the Eco Green Store.  The prices are fairly reasonable too, so that's another bonus, with the pancake mix selling for £2.80 for a 13.2 oz box, and the pasta spirals selling at £1.99 for a 250g package.

In the world of specialized foods, that's not half bad.

Many thanks to the people at Orgran for affording me this opportunity to try something new!  It's nice to know that gluten free and healthy can also be tasty!
Marie Rayner
Share :

Corn and Pasta Bake

  photo SAM_0171_zps367bb303.jpg

One thing I really miss at this time of year is fresh corn on the cob.  They call it Sweet corn here . . . not sure why that is, only that it is.  You can get corn on the cob here in the shops . . . but it really isn't very good.  They don't seem to understand that corn begins to turn starchy as soon as it's picked . . . or that you shouldn't completely husk it.

 photo SAM_0168_zpsa15967de.jpg

The  shelves in the grocery shops have sweet corn, already husked, or partially husked . . . been sitting there for days.  It's not good.  Having eaten corn right off the waggon and fresh out of the fields for most of my life, I am spoilt as far as corn goes. 

 photo SAM_0167_zps15a48b0f.jpg

We tried to grow our own one year.  Peaches and cream.  You would think that would have been relatively easy enough . . . just plant the seeds, but . . . it just didn't work.  We got only a few cobs . . . and they were very small.  Tasty, but hardly worth the effort.

 photo SAM_0169_zps179d62bc.jpg

I keep saying that some year I am going to go home to visit during corn season . . . so that I can enjoy a good feed of it, and one year  I will. It's a promise I have made to myself.  Back home you know your corn is ready to pick as soon as the raccoons help themselves . . . that's one things raccoons know well . . . perfectly ripe corn.

 photo SAM_0174_zps4d787003.jpg

Here I make do with tinned sweet corn.  It's better than any you can buy fresh, or perhaps I should say any that you can buy in the shops fresh.  I have never seen it for sale at the side of the road like we do back home.  It might be different if they did.  Perhaps it would taste just as good, fresh picked as the stuff I am used to.

 photo SAM_0175_zpse72b3d69.jpg

I fear I will never find out.  In any case this casserole today is a beautiful side dish which makes good use of tinned sweet corn, two varieties . . . and cheese.   The pasta cooks in the corn, soaking up all of it's flavour.  that makes for one mighty tasty casserole.  Your family will eat this one up.  I promise!   If they like corn, they'll love this.

 photo SAM_0165_zpsf9a52cbf.jpg

*Corn and Pasta Bake*
Serves 6 to 8
This is so simple and yet so delicious.  It's great to bring to pot lucks, and is always one of the first things to disappear.

1 (285g) tin of sweet corn, undrained (15.25 ounce tin)
1/2 pound small pasta shells, uncooked
1 (418g) tin of cream corn(16 ounces)
1/2 tin of milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
(reserve a handful for the end)
finely crushed buttered cracker crumbs

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*f/ gas mark 4.  Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking dish really well.  Set aside.
Stir together both tins of corn, remembering not to drain either one of them.  Add 1/2 tin of milk, some seasoning to taste and most of the cheese, reserving a small handful for the end.  Pour this mixture into the prepared baking dish, spreading it out.  cover tightly with aluminium foil.  Bake for 45 minutes, stirring it every fifteen minutes and uncovering for the last ten minutes.  At that point you can sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top and the cracker crumbs.  Bake for the last 10 minutes until golden brown.  Simply scrummy.

Recipe clarification just in case there is some confusion:
You use the empty tin of creamed corn to measure the milk.  It is not tinned milk, just ordinary milk.  Also you add the pasta dry to the mix and it cooks in the oven, absorbing most, if not all of the liquid!
Marie Rayner
Share :

Browned Onion Mash

  photo SAM_0106_zpsbf8c75f3.jpg

 You would be forgiven for thinking that this isn't the  most exciting recipe that you have ever seen . . . because after all what is it, but another version of mashed potatoes.

 photo SAM_0108_zps7cc83e65.jpg

If you were to not give it a second look however, I have to say . . . you'd be missing out on something really wonderful and pretty special.

 photo SAM_0107_zps9e85f697.jpg

Creamy mashed potatoes laced with deliciously caramelized onions . . . the onions lending it a touch of moreish sweetness, that is quite, quite wonderful, to say the least.

 photo SAM_0105_zps07a657d9.jpg

It's mash . . . but it's so much more than that.  I do hope you'l try it and if you do, let me know what you think.  I don't think this could get any better, unless of course you add a tablespoon or two of finely grated Parmesan cheese.

Now that my friends .  .  . would simply be awesome.

  photo SAM_0103_zps18e0d6e1.jpg  

*Browned Onion Mash*
Serves 4 to 6
Printable Recipe

Delicious version of mashed potatoes, kicked up with caramelized onions.

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut up
lightly salted water to cover
2 medium onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 TBS butter, divided
75ml of hot milk (1/3 cup)
fine sea salt and ground white pepper to taste

Place the potatoes in a pot of lightly salted water to cover.  Bring to the boil.  Cook until tender, drain, and then mash.  Whilst the potatoes are cooking, melt one TBS of the butter in a large frying pan.  Add the chopped onions.  Saute, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until the onions soften and begin to caramelize.  Once you have the potatoes mashed, whisk in the hot milk, remaining TBS of butter and the caramelized onions, along with some salt and white pepper.   Serve hot.
Marie Rayner
Share :

Farm to Fork . . . A day on the farm

  photo EBLEX-improves-Quality-Standard-Scheme_zpsdb6a4f85.jpg

(I normally like to do these posts as soon as possible after the event, but due to having taken very ill within a few days of attending this event, I am rather late in doing so.  I hope that I am able to do justice to the very fine day that was had by both the Toddster and myself. )

Several weeks back Todd and I were well pleased to have received an invitation to a Field to Fork Day experience being held at  Gamage Hall Farm, in Dymock, Gloucestershire.  Having been sponsored by EBLEX we were keen to go.  Todd was a cow-man once upon a time ago and we both have a keen interest in how what we choose to eat and put into our bodies is farmed and produced.

EBLEX is a part of the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board for the UK, working independantly of the British Government, but liasing closely with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  It is their mandate to help to promote consumer confidence towards Beef and Lamb products here in the UK.  The Quality Standard Mark scheme champions eating quality, provenance, food safety, animal welfare and care for the environment.

The recent crisis in the meat industry with  horse-meat having found it's way onto  our supermarket shelves and in frozen ready meals and other beef products, has only served to highlight how very important traceability and provenance are when it comes to what we, as consumers want to eat, and what we expect to be provided with when we hand over our hard earned cash.  Let's face it.  Meat is expensive.

We were treated to a day on a lovely farm, Gamage Hall Farm, owned by the Westaway family, which is situated on 170 acres of beautiful farm land in the county of Gloucestershire.

 photo SAM_8257_zps5df556fc.jpg

They had the cutest Jack Russell dog named Spot, who I think was the official greeter of the day.  He had personality plus!

  photo 6-2_zpsf02e82d4.jpg

We were treated to a wonderful tour of the farm  by Paul Westaway and his family.  We learned a lot about what is involved in producing quality beef for the table.  The farm was clean.  The animals were clean and well cared for.  It was clear every step of the way that they were much more than simply stock.

 photo 10_zps1d61cb43.jpg

This is Gareth.  He is the highest ranked Angus young Bull in Europe today and amongst the top 1% of the breed globally.  He was a beautiful animal.

  photo SAM_8285_zpsa67301b5.jpg

IN order to be a part of the EBLEX Quality standard mark scheme  a producer of beef or lamb has to meet some very high specifications and quality assurances, which  cover everything from the age of the animal, to carcase specifications, maturation, eating quality and care for the environment.  All things each of us, as consumers, should be concerned about.

The quality standard mark highlights where your beef and lamb was born, raised and slaughtered, and the flag on the label should show you which country it originated in.  ie. British (Scotland, Wales, etc.) with the Union Jack or English (England) with St Georges Flag.

 photo 11_zps37d322cc.jpg

Great care was taken throughout our day to make sure we were as informed as possible about ever aspect of the process our quality standard red meats go through to get them from the field to our plate.

  photo SAM_8252_zpsf86f462d.jpg

There was a fabulous lecture given which showed us in great depth what all goes into the production of our meat.  It's not as simple as growing a steer . . . there are very strict specifications to adhere to, which I found very informative and reassuring.  You can read more about that on their page, here.  I think you would find it very interesting.  We both certainly did.

 photo 2-1_zpsca702f0c.jpg

After that we had a butchering class, which was held outside.  Here we got to see several different joints of meat and how they would be broken down for sale.

 photo 4_zps3682fac1.jpg

I found this part fascinating.   I learned the difference between aged meat and un-aged meat and why one might taste better than another.

  photo SAM_8262_zps326f4ccd.jpg

And why something which has been aged and hung for a longer time might cost more and have a greater depth of flavour.  The longer a piece of meat is hung and aged, the more concentrated the flavour becomes as moisture is lost.  It also loses size and weight, which means that a more mature steak which is the same size as a less mature one, might have started out as a much larger piece of meat.  It only makes sense that it would cost more to purchase.  I never quite understood that before, but now I do!  (and I probably haven't explained it right, but I hope you get the idea!)

 photo SAM_8280_zpse1e08cdd.jpg

There are right ways and wrong ways to cut meat.   It always really annoys me when we go to a Carvery and the chef serving the meat, slices it with the grain instead of against it.  Don't they know the difference??    It also annoys me when I buy a steak and it's very clear that whoever has butchered it has simply cut it across the joint, without having taken any notice of the different muscles contained in the piece.  You can see when that has happened when you pick up a steak and it immediately begins to fall apart, none of the connecting tissue holding it together.  That's just poor butchering non stop.

  photo SAM_8272_zps6645e74c.jpg

Anyways, we were shown a few different cuts of beef and lamb . . . and the difference between a nice piece of meat and a poor one.

 photo SAM_8276_zpsff9456d1.jpg

It was all very, very informative, and we couldn't have been treated better.

The day ended with a delicious barbeque . . .

  photo SAM_8259_zps54a4eca7.jpg

We were treated to all of the different cuts of beef and lamb which had been butchered and barbequed skillfully and a delicious assortment of salads, which unfortunately I didn't get any photos of as my camera was acting up at that point.  (I have since had to buy a new one!)  Before we knew it we were back on the train and on our way home and the day was over.

But I have to say we were very well treated by everyone involved in this event.  We were well informed about everything anyone could ever want to know about how their beef and lamb  gets from the Field to their Fork.  We got to see some beautiful animals being reared in excellent conditions and with high integrity and humanity.  We got to rub elbows with other like minded foodies and we got to eat some really decent food.

I don't think anyone can ask for any more than that.

but wait . . . it gets even  better . . .

 photo SAM_0045_zpsd522bef2.jpg

These beautiful flowers arrived about a week later, and really made my day.  By then I was in the process of recovering from that terrible tummy bug and they were just about the most welcome sight ever!

Many thanks to the people at EBLEX and Gamage Farm for having provided us with this fab day, and also to Gemma and the people at Good Relations for having invited us along.  We really, REALLY enjoyed the day and could not have been treated better by anyone.

Marie Rayner
Share :

A Goat's Cheese, Tomato & Olive Tart

 photo SAM_0150_zps4ff4d89f.jpg

I love late summer when the garden begins to share it's bounty with us . . . that is the time of year when all the hard work begins to pay off . . . the fruit ripens, vegetables are ready to be picked . . . and there is nothing tastier on earth than things you have grown yourself.

 photo SAM_0151_zps18d5ea3c.jpg

I have always loved tomatoes.  As a girl we ate ripe tomatoes at the end of the summer out of hand like apples.  It was not unsual to sit down to a complete meal of nothing but sliced ripe tomatoes, sliced ripe cucumbers . . . scattered with salt and pepper and served with buttered bread.

 photo SAM_0153_zps1dbeb8e8.jpg

Or a feed of nothing but sweet corn on the cob with lots of butter and salt.  We never felt deprived when this happened.   It was a real treat.  It still is.

 photo SAM_0156_zpsbfea6b5a.jpg

I took some of our ripe tomatoes today and used them to make a delicious tomato tart.  Tomato tarts can be as complicated or as simple as you want them to be.  This one is very simple and very rustic.

 photo SAM_0154_zps9ac2ce36.jpg

It's just a matter of rolling out the pastry into a nice round and then sprinkling it with some rich and creamy soft Goat's cheese.   You then layer that up with sliced tomatoes and chopped olives . . . you could add a few capers as well, if you are fond of them.  I am, but today I didn't have any to use . . .

 photo SAM_0158_zps671aba10.jpg

A sprinkle of coarse pepper and salt and into the oven it goes . . . until the pastry gets crisp and golden brown . . . and the tomatoes are just beginning to caramlize . . . and the goats cheese lays all rich and creamy beneath them . . .

 photo SAM_0163_zps1d29f897.jpg

I like to use the dry cured olives because they have more flavour and are usually cured with some herbs.  I love them and a few can go a very long way because they are so very flavourful!

 photo SAM_0160_zps61367041.jpg

After that you only need drizzle the tart with a bit of really good extra virgin olive oil and a few strips of fresh basil before cutting it into wedges to serve.

 photo SAM_0162_zpsfa038832.jpg

Me . . . I always like to drizzle it with a bit of balsamic dressing as well, such as the house dressing in my sandwiches of yesterday.  (It's most delicious you know!)  All in all this makes for a delightfully toothsome and flavourful light lunch or supper.

 photo SAM_0149_zps6f330ecb.jpg

Tomato, Olive & Goats Cheese Tart
Makes 1 9-inch tarts
Serving 4 to 5

This recipe is a real doddle to make and something I like to make when in late summer when the tomatoes are fast ripening on the vine.  Does anything on earth taste better than a fresh garden tomato?
1 package of  short crust pastry,or make your own
(You will want enough to make a 12 inch round)
3 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2inch wedges
2/3 of a 175g package of soft goats cheese, about 1/2 cup, crumbled
a handful of dry cured pitted green and black olives, chopped
freshly ground black pepper to taste
coarse salt to taste
about 6 basil leaves, rolled tightly and cut chiffonade
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 4.  Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Roll the pastry out to a 12 inch circle.  Place the pastry carefully onto the paper lined baking sheet.   Crumble the goats cheese in the middle., leaving a 2 inch border all round.    Remove and discards any seeds and excess juice from your tomatoes.   Arrange the tomatoes in an even layer over the goats cheese.   Grind some black pepper over top and a bit of salt and sprinkle the olives evenly over all.  Gently fold the edges of the pastry over top of the filling all the way around, crimping as need be.  You want to leave the centre open. 

Bake in the heated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden and the filling is cooked.  The tomatoes will be lightly roasted.   Remove from the oven and allow stand for about 10 minutes. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the basil strips.   Cut into wedges to serve.
Marie Rayner
Share :

Follow @georgialoustudios