Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Going Nuts in France

 Going nuts on the market in Sarlat
The squirrels around our garden would have had an amazing time if they’d been on holiday in the Lozere and Perigord areas of France.  I’ve never seen so many nuts or ‘noix’ on display in the markets. 
Nuts galore on the market
Nutty treats included the scrumptious Gateaux aux noix. It's not like an sponge cake as the texture is dense but it's certainly delicious! Here’s a recipe which a French friend gave me – tres facile!
Gateau aux Noix
100g caster sugar
100g butter (softened)
150g( chopped) walnuts
40g flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
Fold the chopped walnuts in half the sugar. Mix the butter and the rest of the sugar together. Add the chopped walnuts and sugar mixture and then the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the flour and salt. Grease a cake tin or dish (approx 20cms) and pour the mixture into it. Bake in a hot oven (Mark 7, 210-220C) for around 30 minutes. Allow to cool. 

Decoration
200g icing sugar
2 tbsps coffee granules 
Water to mix
Whole walnuts
Make the icing by sieving the icing sugar and coffee powder (grind the granules in a pestle and mortar) and adding a couple of tbsps of water. Mix until smooth and not too runny. Coat the top of the cake and finally decorate with whole walnuts. 

Grandma’s tips :
Use a food processor to chop up the walnuts.
Grind the coffee granules to a powder in a pestle and mortar.
You can add a splash of Armagnac to the cake mixture before baking.  
Laurent and Pat served some tasty aperitifs including Le Birlou, a fabulous aperitif made from apples and chestnuts in their wonderful renovated farmhouse at  La Borie d'Aubrac in the SW corner of France. It’s on the pilgrimage route to  Santiago de Compostella but you didn’t have to be one of the pilgrims to enjoy  the laughter and conviviality around the large dining table every evening with different nationalities coming together to enjoy our hosts’ fabulous hospitality. I showed them Grandma’s blog. Expect to hear of international puddings and cakes added to the RecipesBon app├ętit! 
Have you got a favourite international cake recipe?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Make the most of the hedgerows

We’re right in the middle of bumper crops of fruit and vegetables from the garden and plentiful summer fruits going cheap in the market. Here’s a chance to get out Grandma’s recipes for some homemade preserves. 

Grandma’s expertise wasn’t just limited to baking cakes and puddings; her Recipe Index was packed with ideas for jams, chutneys and various cordials and syrups.  Her approach to food was influenced over the years by cost, rationing, access to food from her garden and eagerly spotting useful recipes.
Elderflowers are turning to luscious fruits and I’ve been picking them to make Grandma’s Elderberry Syrup. It’s so simple to make and a old fashioned remedy for coughs and colds as well as a lovely warm drink at any time. Here's the recipe.
Elderberry Syrup

Stew the berries in a large pan very slowly over a low heat for the juice. When ready, strain through a sieve or cloth. For each pint of juice, add 1 lb sugar. Simmer very slowly until the sugar has dissolved. Let the syrup cool and then bottle.
We’ve been out blackberrying too so we’ll be enjoying Blackberry and Apple pie made with Grandma’s prizewinning mouthwatering shortcrust pastry!
Have you got any good recipes to make the most of these gluts of fruit and vegetables?