Tag Archives: recipe

DIY Candied Orange Peel

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chocolate dipped candied peel

My husband is from California – where Oranges grow on trees! I remember his 80 year-old grandmother giving me some of her home-made candied peel one Thanksgiving.  It was just wonderful and I was so impressed.   Last year I bought Mechanic Man some locally made, dark chocolate dipped, candied peel for Christmas – he adored it.

This year, I tried a sample from the same vendor and although the Belgian chocolate was delicious, the orange just wasn’t zingy enough.  Remembering Grandma Grace, I thought I’d have a go at the peels myself.  I found this great recipe with lovely photos on a  blog called bright eyed baker.  I used her recipe but scaled it up as I had four oranges.

This quantity makes a dinner plate of peel and filled two jam jars before I dipped some of them in chocolate. You could probably fill four jam jars if they were all choc dipped.  I elected to only dip half of each peel in chocolate as I thought they’d look prettier.

  • 4 Navel Oranges
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  1. Wash the oranges and cut the top and bottom off.
  2. Score into quarters (along lines of longitude) through the skin and pith (orange and white bit).
  3. Peel off the skin/pith “quarters”.  I put the “waste” orange on a plate and left it on the kitchen table – it all disappeared within minutes.
  4. Cut these quarters into thin strips lengthwise about 1/4 inch or 5 mm wide.
  5. Place strips in a pan of water and bring to the boil, boil for a few minutes.
  6. Drain and repeat step 5, TWO times more to reduce bitterness of the pith.
  7. Add the measured water and sugar to a pan and stir over a low heat to dissolve the sugar.
  8. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Add the peel and simmer gently for another 45 minutes DO NOT STIR.  Stirring will cause the sugar to crystallize.  You can occasionally rotate the peels gently if you feel they are not all getting equally “candied.” DO NOT let the pan boil dry.
  10. When the peels are translucent, drain the excess liquid (there won’t be much) and keep this it for another culinary use.
  11. Place the peels on drying racks and dry in the oven for about an hour at 90C.
  12. Put the peels in a ziploc bag with a little extra sugar and shake the bag to coat them (they look prettier this way and are less sticky to handle/wrap).
  13. Store them in an airtight container.

candied orange peel

You can dip some peels in melted chocolate to be extra decadent or eat them as they are (very zingy). The photo above is the jar I made for Hubby. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and lay the chocolatey peels to harden on a silicon baking mat.

I plan to use some in my holiday baking, in place of “shop” peel.  I also made little cones out of cellophane and gave some to my baking friends as little pre-Christmas gifts. (Sorry Lizzie I made yours before I raided my “bling” box and found the holly and mini bells)!

candied peel pretty packaging

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Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

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bite of chocolate raspberry muffin

Well, it’s that time of year again, Scottish raspberries abound in our very own garden – about the only thing that we can successfully grow due to our cold northern climes – so very exciting.  My kids have been complaining about the rather healthy baking lately so I thought I’d treat them to some chocolate.  I couldn’t find the perfect recipe, so I tweaked quite a few others to suit my tastes/ingredients.  I used sunflower oil instead of butter and not too many chocolate chips – I wanted the raspberries to be the stars but I like a hint of gooey chocolate.

fresh raspberries home grown scottish

Also, since I only have rather patriotic Union Jack Muffin cases we can eat them to celebrate our new future King who was born yesterday.

  • 225g Self-Raising Flour
  • 125g sugar
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 egg
  • 100 ml milk
  • 90 ml sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips or a few chucks dark chocolate chopped up.
  • 1 generous cup of fresh raspberries plus 12 extra to top each muffin.
  1. Sieve first five (dry) ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl mix next four (wet) ingredients.
  3. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry (do not over mix).
  4. Fold in berries & chocolate chips.
  5. Bake at 200C for 10 minutes then turn down to 180C for another 10 mins.
  6. Place a raspberry on top of each muffin before baking.

baked garden produce

Home Made Natural Yogurt

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scottish strawberries

I’m still on a health kick here and eating lots of natural yoghurt.  Now, I know it’s relatively cheap to buy but I hate all the plastic that gets chucked out when the yoghurt is finished.  My Mum used to make yoghurt but had one of those plug in yoghurt makers – it was jettisoned when she downsized.   A friend told me she uses her AGA to make yoghurt.  I don’t have an AGA but we have a cast iron gas stove in our kitchen which is permanently kept warm by the pilot light so I thought I’d have a go.

Well, I made a litre (1 quart USA) – easy peasy – my wee man has eaten most of it in two days – his current snack of choice.  I was able to re-use a plastic 1-litre ice cream tub to store it in so that made me feel better about reducing waste too.

home made yogurt

Here’s ALL you need:

  • 60ml (4 tbsp or 1/4 cup USA) of LIVE yoghurt (my small Yeo Valley one cost 50p).
  • 1 litre (4 US cups) milk (I used semi-skimmed/2% USA).

natural yogurt starter

What you DO:

  1. Heat the milk SLOWLY in a heavy bottomed pan (I used my Le Creuset). Stir so it doesn’t scorch.
  2. When it reaches 200F or 90C (just before boiling) take it off the heat and let cool to 90F or 45C (cool enough to keep your little finger in).
  3. Take out a little milk and mix it with the yoghurt.  Then add the mix back into the pan and stir.  Keep the pan in a warm place.  I put the lid on and a tea cosy over the pan and left it on my warm stove for a few hours and it magically turned into 1 litre yoghurt.  You could also use a Thermos flask or just wrap the pan in lots of insulating padding and leave overnight – it just takes longer if it’s not as warm.
  4. Save 60ml of yoghurt from this batch to use as a starter for the next batch so don’t eat every last bit!

My wee man enjoyed helping me make the yoghurt especially watching the thermometer for me.  This probably explained why he is wanting to eat it three or four times a day!  He says things like “I can taste the honey” and “I can taste the strawberries.” You will not buy shop yoghurt again.

chain bridge honey farm

So far, we have sweetened the yoghurt with honey (from the local honey farm) and then added sunflower seeds, raisins, rhubarb from the garden and chopped up Scottish strawberries – not all at the same time.  We have also made lots of raiita dip by adding chopped cucumber and a pinch of cumin and/or fresh mint.  The possibilities are endless and of course you can use yoghurt in lots of baking recipes, such as my carrot cake and my Irish soda farls. Let me know if you make some – or can suggest other things to add to it.

My Craft Night Lemon Drizzle Cake

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lemon drizzle cake

I made this cake for last night’s ECOZEE “Mystery” craft night – it went down very well – as you can see  – as did the mystery craft – mosaic tiling. I am so proud of my “proteges” what great works of art they produced – actually better than my sample! I promised I’d share the recipe for the cake so here goes…

It’s a Mary Berry recipe – and makes 2 half-pound loaf cakes. Mary Berry calls them “Crunchy Lemon Syrup Loaves.” I make these when called upon to donate cakes to charity coffee mornings etc and they sell well.  You could make one bigger cake but it would take longer to cook! Oh, I also won second prize in the lemon drizzle category at the village show with this cake one year – I was happy to be beaten by a legendary baker/most wonderful octogenarian – Connie.

  • 100g soft margarine (I use Stork or softened butter)
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 175g sugar (caster or granulated)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • zest or grated rind of one lemon

Topping

  • Juice of one lemon (the one you used for the zest above)
  • 100g granulated sugar
  1. Place all the cake ingredients into a bowl and beat well for about 2 minutes (electric hand mix is a great help here).
  2. Line the tins with greaseproof paper or use paper liners.
  3. Divide mixture into two small loaf tins.
  4. Bake at 180C for about 30 minutes until a skewer inserted in the cakes comes out clean.
  5. Meanwhile make the topping… mix lemon juice and sugar and stir well.
  6. When the cakes are still hot, skewer all over and drizzle lemon/sugar topping over the cakes.
  7. Leave to cool in the tin – don’t remove the paper until the cakes are cold.

ENJOY…If you make this cake…I’d love a comment.

How and Why to Make Muffins – with bonus domestic science lesson.

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blueberry muffin in union jack paper case

Why Muffins are so Brilliant…

  • You only need a spoon, a mixing container and a cup to measure – so no fancy equipment – well, apart from a muffin pan/tin. I like to picture the pioneers going across the US in their wagons with their tin cups and spoons rattling, always ready to rustle up a batch of muffins in a jiffy. Jiffy – now there’s a good name for a muffin mix!
  • You can make 12 muffins with only one egg – so great if you’re running short on supplies.
  • Muffins are more of a batter than a cake so they use less fat and rely more on milk/yoghurt.box of Jiffy brand American Corn muffin mix
  • You can throw just about any fruit/nuts in – whatever is in season, growing in the garden or needing using up. Use the recipe below but just change the fruit. I like to use tinned pineapple or peaches or a jar of cherries when I’m out off fresh stuff. A cup of mincemeat makes yummy Christmas muffins if you’re bored with/too lazy to make mince pies.
  • Muffins take only 5 minutes to measure/mix and 20 mins to bake.
  • They taste so much better than shop bought – don’t all cakes
  • They look impressive and pretty and make you feel like a domestic goddess/god.

So here’s my adaptable RECIPE:

Blueberry/Lemon or any other kinda fruity/nutty/spiced Muffins

This recipe is in “American” and uses cups to measure. For old-money Brits, this is the same capacity as 8 fluid ounces measured in a measuring jug or cup. So, find a cup which takes 8 fluid ounces of liquid and call it your “cup.” I have a lovely bone china coffee cup. For new-money Brits and Europeans (not sure what our friends down-under use) – 8 fluid ounces = 225ml. A china cup is good as you can microwave the butter in it to melt which you can’t do with metal cups.

The trick with muffins is not to over beat the “batter” – lumps are OK – in my lovely book “Granny’s Muffin House” by Susan Ashby, this is described as “mix ’till jest moistened.” Feel free to add a teaspoon or two of your favourite spice/flavouring – cinnamon – mixed spice, vanilla etc. Have fun, experiment.

My blueberry muffins

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • grated rind of one lemon
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup natural yoghurt
  • 1/3 cup melted butter/margarine/oil (I use butter but have used oil and it’s fine I just like the butter flavour).
  • 1 ½ cups blueberries (I used a whole 125g punnet)
  1. Sift dry ingredients into bowl – mix
  2. Add lemon rind – mix
  3. Stir in egg/milk/yoghurt/fat – just ’till moistened
  4. Gently fold in blueberries or other fruit.
  5. Fill paper-lined muffin tins, bake 20 mins at 200C.

OK, having said muffins are easy, there is a wee bit of kitchen science behind it, so for those with the time and the inclination, here’s more of my Muffin Baking Wisdom….possibly more info than you need but some folks like detail!

Baking Powder is the Viagra of the baking world – it’s very IMPORTANT – It makes your cakes rise.

Make sure your baking powder is “in date” or it will have lost it’s raising power. If you are buying new, Lidl sells packets of baking powder in individual paper sachets which means it’s more likely to stay fresh. It’s called Back-Pulver sachet of baking powder from Lidlwhich I assume is German! The tubs you buy in regular supermarkets go out of date before you finish them – even mine and I bake a lot. If I don’t use a whole sachet, I tape it up and use it the next time.

You can use self-raising flour instead of plain – Americans use plain flour (which they call “all-purpose” flour ) for everything and add their own baking powder/salt. We Brits tend to use self-raising flour for cakes as it is actually plain flour with the baking powder and salt pre-mixed in. That’s why it’s important to sift your dry ingredients for muffins so the baking powder/salt gets evenly distributed and it turns your plain flour into SR flour – well, almost but not quite.

In this recipe, if you used only SR flour, your muffins might not rise as much as mine as 1 cup of SR flour has the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of baking powder in it and this recipe calls for 2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon of baking powder which technically is 3 teaspoons. So using 2 cups of SR flour would leave you 1 teaspoon short on raising power. This is why some British recipe’s such as “all-in one” cakes call for SR flour and a small amount of baking powder to give extra lift.

Eggs give raising power too, but one egg in 12 muffins is not much raising power, hence the tablespoon baking powder. So, If you don’t have any “in-date” baking powder” a solution could be – use 2 cups SR flour and 2 eggs. The trade-off will be – your muffins will be more cakey and less classic American muffiny. Make sense? Also, if you do use SR flour don’t add the salt.

The yoghurt is also important as the acidity “activates” the baking powder. You can also use sour cream or sour milk or add a teaspoon of lemon juice or even vinegar to regular milk. I hated chemistry at school but am strangely fascinated by the science of baking – I like to know how things work – well things that are important to me like cakes.

If your fruit is tart – like fresh blackberries or raspberries – add more sugar (up to 1 cup).

The amount of fruit is not critical – use what you have – approx ½ to 1 ½ cups.