life on a smallholding

not quite a business, but more than a hobby

Goat butter pastry — Sunday, 14th July

Goat butter pastry

Homemade goat's butter
Homemade goat’s butter

Making your own goat butter is not an option open to everyone and although you can buy it in the supermarket, I have no idea how it compares to homemade.  With it being pure white, it looks more like lard, but I have found that it makes a really lovely, crispy pastry, which tastes lighter than that made with butter from a cow.

Goat butter pastry

  • Difficulty: easy
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A buttery pasty, perfect for pie crusts

Ingredients
  • 225g plain flour
  • 170g butter
  • pinch salt
  • enough iced water to bring it all together
Instructions
  1. Sift the flour and the salt into your bowl.
  2. Cut the butter into cubes and add to the flour mix.
  3. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour leaving largish lumps. The butter should still visible throughout the flour.
  4. Gradually add the water until the mixture starts to come together and forms into a ball.
  5. Tip the mixture out onto cling film, pat into a circle, wrap firmly and leave in the fridge for about an hour.
  6. When ready to use, sprinkle a little flour on the worksurface, unwrap the cling film and take out as much dough as you need for the pie base, returning the rest to the fridge.
  7. Roll out to the desired shape and size, then place in the bottom of your pie dish.
  8. Make sure you roll out the pie lid before putting the hot filling in the dish.
  9. You may find it easier to roll out the dough on some lightly floured cling film and then use this to lift the pastry onto the dish.
  10. This is a very soft pastry and if it does break, it can be patched up easily.

 

Making pastry
Making pastry
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A wild afternoon — Wednesday, 15th May

A wild afternoon

Handmade ravioli with goat meat filling and wild garlic pesto
Handmade ravioli with goat meat filling and wild garlic pesto sauce

I have to confess that I’ve planted nothing in the polytunnel this year.  We’ve had so many ups and downs since January, planting has been the last thing on our minds.

However, that hasn’t stopped things growing.  There is a tub full of herbs, which include parsley, lemon balm, thyme, chives and rosemary and also a large and overpowering sage plant.

Potatoes I missed from previous years are popping up all over and the rocket is growing in untamed abundance.  Apart from the nettles which are never far away, there is plenty of wild garlic.

I was keen to make some pesto but I’m really not fond of pine nuts.  I did have a bag of walnuts in the cupboard, which should be a good enough substitute, they’re still nuts after all!

I fought my way through the stingers with rubber gloves on, to pick a bunch of the pungent wild garlic leaves.

In no time at all I had whisked up a jar of vibrant green pesto which tasted heavenly.  I couldn’t wait to make some pasta to daub it on.

This sauce goes really well with my Quick Ricotta Gnocchi recipe.

Wild garlic pesto

  • Difficulty: easy
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Wild garlic pesto made with walnuts and lemon balm

Ingredients
  • 80g wild garlic leaves
  • Couple of sprigs of lemon balm
  • 50g grana pandano (or parmesan) cheese
  • 50g walnuts
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 50ml sunflower oil
  • 50ml olive oil
Instructions
  1. Wash the wild garlic leaves, lemon balm and dry them carefully
  2. Chop the leaves finely in a food processor or blender
  3. Grate the cheese
  4. Chop the walnuts (I used a mini chopper)
  5. Add the cheese, salt and pepper to the wild garlic mix and blend
  6. Add the half of the oil and blend
  7. Add the walnuts and blend
  8. Add the remaining oil and blend
  9. Spoon the mixture into a sterilised jar and top up with olive oil so that the pesto is covered
  10. Store in the fridge until used

 

Wild garlic and lemon balm pesto with walnuts
Wild garlic and lemon balm pesto with walnuts
Yorkshire pudding has its day — Sunday, 3rd February

Yorkshire pudding has its day

Curried
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
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A Yorkshire pudding with a twist

Ingredients
  • 3 medium to large eggs
  • Plain flour
  • Milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Vegetable oil
Instructions
  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
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This curry can be made with any vegetables or meat
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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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Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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