Sunday, August 24, 2014

Clotted cream but where are the scones? August 24th 2014

This weekend it was a good one to stay inside as I fought off winter ills that until now I have been able to avoid this year. What to do inside? Time to experiment in making clotted cream. I have been meaning to try for ages and never got around to it. It is not that difficult.
First I brought 5 litres of evening milk to 76 degrees C in a double boiler to avoid the milk burning on the bottom. I then kept it at that temperature for about 40 minutes before taking it off the heat, wrapping the saucepan in tea towels and putting in a foam box to slow the cooling process as much as possible. Next day, about 18 hours later, it was time to skim the cream off the top with a slotted spoon. That's it!
And not to waste the skim milk I was left with, I turned it into ricotta to make cheesecake.
Now I am just waiting for someone to whip up some scones to have the cream with for a true Devonshire tea Or is that Cornish?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Checking out the Czechs. August 17 2014

The last part of my overseas holiday was spent in the Czech Republic, mostly in Prague. From what I could see, Czech cuisine is similar to those of other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Potatoes and pork in various guises such as sausage, roast, steak seem to be central to most meals and when we went looking for Czech specialities that is exactly what we found.
First up, lots of places in Central Prague advertised Goulash served in bread pots so of course that was on the list to try. For vegetarians, potato soup in a bread pot was the option.
Very tasty Goulash served in a very crusty loaf of bread. It was difficult to resist eating the bread once I had finished the filling!
On street corners a tasty snack was sold. Trdelnik, dough is cooked wrapped around a stick in a spiral shape.  Sprinkled with cinnamon sugar it was lovely and crusty.
On our final day in Prague we went to a restaurant just below the castle where they advertised traditional Czech food. 
 I chose a fried carp dish

My sister chose yet Olde Bohemian platter of Smoked baked pork neck, Smoked pork sausage,Grilled ark, bread dumplings, Potoato dumplings, Bacon dumplings, red sauerkraut, white sauerkraut and potato pancakes. Needless to say, she didn't need much for dinner that evening!
And my daughter had a vegetarian goats cheese salad
Just in case we weren't already full enough, we shared an Apple strudel for dessert (but I forgot to take a photo)
As it was summer, we were also able to find plenty of fresh fruit like strawberries, raspberries and cherries to munch on as well. And then with our final few krona we bought a large bar of Czech cherry chocolate at the airport. Unfortunately I never got to taste it though, as in a rush to get to Heathrow for my long haul flight home the next day, I left it sitting in my daughter's room in Chelsea where she is living and she is still enjoying it almost two months later!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Welsh Food Adventures, August 6th 2014

It's over a month now since I got home from my overseas holiday but I have been very slack on blogposts after I wrote the 2 part Iceland adventures posts.  But there's more to tell! 

From Iceland we flew to Manchester and then drove into Wales for 3 days of exploring our family roots in mid Wales. The first thing I noticed was the huge difference between the somewhat sparse range of fruit and vege in Iceland to the huge selection on offer in Tesco's in Welshpool. We stayed in an AirBNB apartment attached to a stately home near Abermule, tucked away up a little road through the deep dark wood. It was fantastic, with baby grand piano looking out the bay windows to the lawn tennis court! Still self catering, it gave us the opportunity to find special treats in a local butchery, bakery and farmers markets. One night , after a visit to Bob the Butcher in the town of Rhayader where our dad was born, we ate home made Welsh lamb pies which were delicious. We also tried some local treats from the bakery- Bara Brith and an Elderflower and Strawberry Cake. This gave me the idea for when I got home of using my homemade Elderflower syrup in a Raspberryand Elderflower cake. Pouring the hot syrup over the cake as it came out of the oven gave it a great flavour and was so popular at a work morning tea that there were only a few crumbs to bring home!

One night we treated ourselves and dined at a one Michelin star restaurant in the tiny town of Montgomery. We arrived on time for our booking at The Checkers despite losing our way following the Google maps directions. We sat on the terrace for canapés in the lovely summer evening. The canapés were pretty spectacular and probably the highlight of the meal. Beetroot macaroons, quenelles of salmon mousse with quail eggs and prawn crackers with a delicious dipping sauce were a great start to the experience and went very well with a glass of cider.

We shared 2 entrees of a  Smoked Blaenavon cheese soufflé with a Granny Smith and almond salad  and a Duck assiete with cherry and hazelnut dressing. Oops I forgot to take a photo of the soufflé until it had almost been all eaten up!
Next we shared four main courses. I ended up choosing the best of them. It was a local pork belly with pomme mouselline, caramelised pear and braising jus. It was beautiful. The other choices were Celtic seared beef with a smoked creamed potato, braided oxtail,and antiboise sauce, Roasted Welsh loin and cutlet of lamb, smoked bacon, flageolet beans aged tomato and a garlic balsamic jus and finally fish but not the one on the menu so I can't remember what it was. They were all nice  but I think I expected something a bit more mind blowing to have earnt a Michelin star.

By the time we got to desserts, I forgot to take any more photos so you will just have to imagine the tasty praline creme brûlée and chocolate and raspberry cardinal that we finished off our meal with. It was still twilight when we left the restaurant and made our way home, not the Google maps way but a much quicker and easier route.

Still time for a little tinkle on the ivories before bed.