life on a smallholding

not quite a business, but more than a hobby

Yorkshire pudding has its day — Sunday, 3rd February

Yorkshire pudding has its day

Curried “Yorkshire” pudding

I’ve just heard that it’s British Yorkshire pudding day.  I’ve never had much luck cooking a humble Yorkshire pud, the problem being my ancient old Rayburn.  You need a hot oven and mine likes to hover around 180 degrees C.  Anything above that only happens occasionally.

Last week we had one of those occasions.  The oven was red hot but that wasn’t the reason I chose to make my pudding.  The chickens and ducks are laying like mad and an egg mountain is starting to form.  Since we’ve had such appalling weather, no customers have been brave enough to trudge through the snow to buy any.

I was making a vegetable curry but instead of rice to accompany it, I decided to make a curried batter pudding to use up some eggs.

It turned out beautifully, not only was it a gorgeous yellow colour, it rose way above the edges of the tin and best of all – no soggy bottom.

Curried Yorkshire pudding

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A Yorkshire pudding with a twist

  • 3 medium to large eggs
  • Plain flour
  • Milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Heat the oven to 220C.
  2. Pop a bowl on the scales and crack 3 eggs into it. Make a note of the weight.
  3. Add the same weight of plain flour.
  4. Then add the same weight of milk.
  5. Add the salt and the turmeric.
  6. Whisk into a smooth batter.
  7. If it’s a little on thick side add some water to thin it down.
  8. Put the oil into an oven proof dish and put into the oven until very hot.
  9. Remove the dish from the oven and pour the batter in. Return it to the oven and leave to bake for approx 40 mins or until risen and golden.
  10. Serve with a good vegetable curry.


Yorkshire pudding with vegetable curry
Yorkshire pudding with vegetable curry

A thrifty curry — Thursday, 3rd January

A thrifty curry

Turkey, vegetable and lentil curry
Turkey, vegetable and lentil curry

I was a vegatarian for over 25 years, therefore cooking with vegetables comes easily to me, so much so that it often doesn’t occur to me to add meat to a meal.  I first starting eating meat again when we raised our own pigs and now I rarely buy it as our freezer is usually stuffed full of our own produce.

For Christmas dinner I planned to roast a joint of our Dexter beef but my mother surprised us with a hamper containing a turkey, so I thought why not?

I didn’t want to spend the big day cooking so I roasted the bird on Christmas eve and we had “leftovers” in the form of a turkey sandwich for our tea before we even got to the festive dinner.

On Boxing day, we had the usual cold meat and pickles but of course there was still plenty of turkey left and lots of recipes to choose from.

I settled on a turkey curry.  Under normal circumstances, I would make this dish with just vegetables.  It’s quick, simple and since you can use up any veg that you have laying around, usually very cheap.

Indian food was not something I ate a lot of, but in the last few years I have been experimenting with spices and this is my very favourite combination – the turmeric gives it a beautiful golden colour and if I have any goat’s cream languishing in the fridge, I add a touch at the end of cooking.  The dish goes down well with or without meat.

A thrifty curry

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This curry can be made with any vegetables or meat
  • Leftover turkey (or any meat raw or cooked)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 medium carrots
  • 2 parsnips (or any veg)
  • 1/4 cup of red lentils
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small piece of chilli (or 1/4 tsp of chilli powder)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 litre stock plus extra liquid as required
  • 50 ml double cream
  1. Heat oil in a frying pan, add the onion and fry until softened. If using uncooked meat add that to the pan now and brown.
  2. Add the carrots and continue to fry until slightly softened, then add the parsnip (or other veg).
  3. Next add all the spices starting with the garlic and chilli and followed by all the dried spices and salt.
  4. Give it a good stir and allow to fry for several minutes, making sure everything is coated. Don’t let it burn.
  5. Tip in the lentils and stir again.
  6. Add the stock, put a lid on the pan and leave to simmer for at least 15 minutes or until all the meat is cooked, vegetables are soft and so are the lentils.
  7. More water can be added if it begins to dry out.
  8. If you are using cooked meat now is the time to add it to the pan. Keep simmering and make sure it is thoroughly heated through.
  9. Add more water if necessary so that there is a fair bit of liquid in the pan.
  10. Finally add the cream, stir well and bring up to the boil.
  11. Leave the lid off the pan and simmer until the sauce thickens.
  12. Serve immediately with rice or naan bread.

My Christmas muffins — Thursday, 20th December

My Christmas muffins

Snow capped fruity muffins
Snow capped fruity muffins

We were out of cake.  It was too soon to cut the Christmas cake, which I haven’t even iced yet, so instead I made some fruit packed, Christmas inspired muffins with a good dollop of snow on top.

Christmas muffins

  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Makes 16
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 240g caster sugar
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 240ml vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 4 medium sized carrots, grated
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 30g dessicated coconut
  • 60g chopped dried figs
  • 60g sultanas
  • Zest 1 lemon
  • [b]Icing[/b]
  • 150g butter, softened
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • Silver balls
  1. Heat oven to 180°C.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, oil and vanilla.
  4. Add the liquid to the flour mix and stir until well combined.
  5. Grate in the lemon zest then fold in the carrots, apple, coconut, and dried fruit.
  6. Stand paper cases in a muffin tray and spoon mix into each one so it’s approx 3/4 full.
  7. Bake for approx 30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centres comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 10 minutes in the tray and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. For the icing beat the butter until light and fluffy and then add the icing sugar. Gently beat in.
  10. Add the vanilla and mix, then add a few drops of lemon juice. Beat well. Add more lemon sparingly, be careful not to make it too wet.
  11. Spoon the icing into a piping bag and decorate the top of each cake; alternatively spread on with a pallet knife.
  12. Finish off with a festive silver ball.
  13. Leave to set before serving.


Muffin packed full of fruit
Muffin packed full of fruit
Not so humble pie — Monday, 3rd December

Not so humble pie

Sausage pie with goat's butter pastry
Sausage pie with goat’s butter pastry

Unlike most people, we rarely have leftovers which is sad as I think they make the best meals.  However, for once I had half a pack of our Dexter sausages open in the fridge and I wanted to use them up, so I settled on this simple pie.  I am very impressed with goat butter pastry, it seems to turn out well every time and this was no exception, it was crisp and flaky.  The eggs mixed with cream, rather than milk gave the dish a luxury feel and the whole thing was not only very tasty, but it looked pretty impressive too.  Certainly one to make again.

Not so humble pie

  • Difficulty: easy
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Suits any leftovers


  • 240g plain flour
  • 120g butter (I used my salted goat’s butter)
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 tbls water (or enough to bind)


  • 6 beef sausages
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 medium eggs
  • 150ml cream
  • Pinch of mustard powder
  • Seasoning to taste
  • Milk for brushing
  1. To make the pastry, put flour and salt into a bowl, add the butter and rub into the flour. Add enough cold water to form a soft dough, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  3. Cut the sausages into pieces approx 1 inch long and brown in a frying pan; remove and put to one side.
  4. Add the onion to the pan and fry to soften.
  5. Beat eggs and cream together and add mustard powder and seasoning.
  6. Grease a pie dish and then roll out 1/3 of the pastry to line the base and the sides.
  7. Arrange the sausage pieces on the bottom of the pastry case and then add a layer of onions.
  8. Pour over the egg and cream mix.
  9. Roll out the rest of the pastry to make a lid. Lay on top and crimp the edge.
  10. Brush with milk and make a couple of small holes to let out steam.
  11. Put on the bottom of the oven and bake for 10 mins then move further up and cook for approx 30 mins or until golden brown. The eggs will cause the filling to rise and may push up the lid, but it should sink back down when you remove it from the oven and it starts to cool.
  12. Serve hot with baked beans or cut thick wedges and eat cold

This time I used leftover bacon and potato
This time I used leftover bacon and potato in layers
Better baguettes — Saturday, 18th August

Better baguettes

Fabulous baguettes

I was thrilled recently to receive a £10 voucher for Lakeland which is choc-a-bloc full of exciting things for dabbling bakers.  After a good look around the site, I settled on a baguette tray for £9.99.

Baguette tray
Baguette tray

I make bread two or three times a week, usually in my rectangular loaf tin but sometimes I shape the dough into rolls.  I like a nice baguette but have found that when I make them, they tend to spread out sideways, so I end up with a flattened loaf which isn’t great for our sandwiches.  This product looked like it may well put a stop to that problem.

When it arrived I discovered that it was floppy rather than the rigid pan I was expecting – should read the blurb properly before ordering.  I wasn’t sure how it would cope when the dough was in the grooves as when I use my silicone loaf tin, the dough tends to push the sides outwards when it expands rather than rising upwards.

It also meant I had to use a baking sheet under the tray and when I balanced it on my solid oven shelf, I came across another small problem in that the shelf is quite a bit shorter than the tray.  I realised that it may well be too long for the oven.

First batch with tapered ends
First batch with tapered ends

I decided to hope for the best, laid out my 3 lumps of dough in the channels of the tray and left it sitting on the shelf above the Rayburn to rise.

When it was ready, I carefully slid it into the oven and although it was a tight fit, I managed to get the door closed.  I glanced in a couple of times during the baking and I could see that because the dips in the tray aren’t very deep, as they were rising, the loaves were joining together at the sides.  I had visions of getting one big flat loaf.  However, when they came out of the oven and I put them on the cooling rack, they pulled apart easily into three lovely looking loaves.

Baguettes ready for the oven
Baguettes ready for the oven

The first time I used it, I shaped the bread so that the ends were tapered, which caused them to bulge outwards in the middle.  With subsequent loaves I have made the dough even all the way along the length and I’ve found that the bread rises upwards and doesn’t join forces with the one next door.  This way I end up with perfectly straight baguettes.

Overall I am delighted with this product, it has been a huge success with both white and wholemeal loaves and I have made some delicious garlic baguettes.  This loaf tin gets my vote and 5 stars.

Baguette rolls
Also excellent for baguette rolls

Milk and honey baguettes

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Milk and Honey Baguettes
  • 500g Strong white flour
  • 325g Milk
  • 1 tbls Honey
  • 10g Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsps yeast
  1. Preheat oven to 190C.
  2. Warm the milk to approx blood temperature (38C).
  3. Stir in the honey
  4. Add the yeast and leave to stand for approx 15 minutes until it starts to froth.
  5. Pour into bowl of food mixer and add flour and salt.
  6. Using dough hook mix well until a dough is formed. (Alternatively you can mix by hand).
  7. Turn out onto a lightly floured worktop and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is elastic.
  8. Oil a large bowl and place the dough in it.
  9. Put in a warm place, cover and leave until doubled in size.
  10. Tip out onto a floured worktop and cut into 3 equal pieces
  11. Roll each piece into a sausage shape using your hands.
  12. Place each baguette onto the baking sheet.
  13. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for around 30-40 minutes.
  14. When well risen, slash* the top and leave for another 10 minutes.
  15. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until well risen and golden brown.
  16. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
  17. Move to a wire rack to cool completely or enjoy warm.
Notes: *I use a razor blade to slash the bread as it makes a better cut than a knife.


The perfect baguette
The perfect baguette

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