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     As soon as the Christmas decorations are down it's time to start thinking about Marmalade!  In January Seville oranges come to Ir...


Who taught our mothers to cook?

And is still teaching us? Mary Berry! I've been looking at her new cookbook this week "Mary Berry Cooks" Published by  BBC Books. 

          While looking through it I was reminded that Mary Berry was one of the authors of The Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook (HACC), published in 1970 it appeared in our house sometime later that decade. There was a picture of every dish, in colour! As the name implies! I suspect a lot of people had this book, but haven't realised that Mary Berry of Great British Bake Off fame was one of the authors.

                Mary reminds me of a kind, motherly, but strict teacher of Home Economics. You don't mess in class and she will bring the best out in you as if you were her own child. Her recipes are straight forward and she isn't afraid to take short cuts, in particular her use of bought puff pastry.

While Mary has grown older and wiser her smile remains the same

      A recipe for chicken caught my eye in the new book, Peppered Tarragon Chicken.

 Was there one for it in the HACC book? Yes, there sort of is a similar recipe for Chicken with Orange & Tarragon.

         The older recipe contains frozen orange juice and sour cream and is made with chicken quarters. The new one uses black pepper cream cheese, chicken fillets and crème fraiche.
To compare the recipes is not fair, but there are really no new recipes. Just a reworking of ingredients.
There are new or now easier to get ingredients in Mary Berry Cooks, which she takes full advantage of.
           Every kitchen should have a Mary Berry book and this one is going to be well used in many households. A great gift for someone getting their first kitchen, it also has sections on menu planning and how much to cook and a section on how to use your freezer properly. Something lacking in many super cool, extra beautiful, I couldn't make that in a million years, chef's cookbooks!
           Eating real home cooked food is a joy and we should take our time to enjoy real food, so this Mother's Day lets do that. No matter how simple a meal, make it with love!



Gluten-free Pizza Base

I think I've finally cracked a half decent pizza base that is wheat and gluten-free!
I love pizza and I was missing it when I reduced my wheat consumption, but recently I've been thinking about it and have a few goes at making this version. 

                                                          Gluten-free Pizza Dough

This is not like a bread dough it is more like a paste.

6tbs warm water
150g mashed potato
1 tsp sugar
1tsp Doves Farm 'Quick Yeast'

Mix together in the bowl of an electric mixer, cover and leave in a warm place until it smells boozy and is frothy.
Boozy smelling bubbles

375g gluten-free bread flour
1 ½ tsp salt
190ml milk
1tsp vinegar
2tbs olive oil

Sift the flour into the bowl with the frothy potatoes and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix with the paddle/"K" beater for 4 minutes at a medium slow speed. Cover and leave in the warm place again for 30 minutes.

The 'Dough'
Oil 4 large baking trays and put a quarter of the dough on to the centre of one. Then using a pallet knife dipped in water spread the dough out into a circle or oval as evenly as you can. Cover and leave to rise while you do the other 3 bases.

Almost round!

Leave them all to rise for 10-15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C, GM 4.
Bake the bases until dry on top, firm and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.
The cooked 'B' side

Remove them from the oven and take the bases off the trays and leave on wire racks. 

Ready to go

Turn the oven up to the highest setting and put a heavy baking tray into the oven at the top.
Brush the top of the bases with oil and turn over. Cover the bases with your favourite toppings and bake directly on the pre heated baking tray for 10-15 minutes, until bubbling and golden.
(If using a pizza stone put it into the oven before you turn it on to bake the bases.) Makes 4 bases about 27cm in diameter.

 It could have done with a minute or two under a hot grill. Next time I'll use the oven with the grill in it and turn it on to finish the top.
There is some 'dough' left... almost supper time..... 


A Spot of Brunch?

Last Tuesday was Shrove Tuesday or more secularly Pancake Day!
I love pancakes almost as much as pizza. Spread with butter, sprinkled with sugar and spritzed with lemon, folded or rolled and eaten warm with a napkin to catch the dribbles that run down the chin. Oh, sweet delight if you can eat wheat.
Sometimes I like a more savoury approach that is wheat free. The cornmeal recipe below is one such experiment. Try to find a medium ground cornmeal as the coarse polenta style ones just make very gritty pancakes.

Primroses, Spring is here!

Cornmeal Pancakes 
1 cup of medium or fine cornmeal
1 cup boiling water
½ tsp salt
1 egg
1tbs melted butter or oil
butter or oil for frying

Pour the boiling water over the cornmeal and salt and mix well, then leave to stand for 5-10 minutes.
The soaked corn meal and the egg.
Crack the egg into a half-cup measure and break it up with a fork, add enough milk to fill the measure and add it to the cornmeal mixture.
Add the oil or melted butter and mix well to a thick batter.
The batter ready to use.
Heat a frying pan or griddle and grease with oil or butter. When it is hot add blobs of the batter to the pan. (I use about 1-1 ½ tablespoonfuls per blob)
When they are dry on top flip them over and cook the other side. Serve straight off the pan or keep warm on a plate in a low oven.
Cooking the second side.

With grilled streaky rashers and maple syrup.

 For a more substantial lunch dish I added some grated cheese, a chopped scallion or two and a little chilli. I cooked larger pancakes and topped them with a salsa of tomatoes and shallot. Some avocado and coriander would make good additions too.