Wednesday 12 September 2007

Blackberry... Something

Well I promised we'd be seeing the blackberries from my last post again soon, and by chance I was messing around online when I came across this recipe at Full credit to this goes there, but I hope Ree doesn't mind if I put up the metric measurements for the recipe here.

Is this a blackberry cobbler? Well, er, not round these parts. But it's got blackberries in, and I supposed it doesn't look sort of... cobbled. So as long as you don't mind if you're not exactly sure what you're eating, try this. The smell of it baking alone is enough to knock you out for several hours ♥.

(If you're the sort of person who does mind a bit of uncertainty, you can probably get the same effect from a pair of old socks, but it's not quite as enjoyable. Then again, if you're that sort of person, you deserve it.

Blackberry Sort-Of-Cobbler
Serves about 6, probably
Preparation: 10 mins
Cooking: 50 mins (Ree said an hour, but mine needed less)
404 calories per serving (six)

245ml milk
115g butter
200 + 50g caster sugar
125g self-raising flour
120g blackberries

1. Place butter in a microwaveable dish and melt it. Put your 200g of sugar in a mixing bowl, dump in the flour and whisk in the milk. Mix it well then pour in the melted butter and whisk together. Now butter a baking dish.

2. Take your blackberries, rinse and pat dry. Pour the batter into your dish and start sprinkling the blackberries over the top of it, distributing them evening until they're all in there. Then sprinkle the other 50g of sugar over the top.
3. Pop the dish in the oven at 180C for 50mins-1hr, until it's all golden and bubbly and cor. I followed Ree's advice and sprinkled another teaspoon of sugar over it ten minutes before it was done.
4. Phwoar.

Got to say, making this was a lot less traumatic than getting the actual blackberries X__X

Sunday 9 September 2007

Indigo and the Bloody Great Blackberry Bush (and Other Stories)

I'm pretty sure I have some sort of mental problem. No need for sarcasm; it involves me getting bizarre concepts in my head and deluding myself that they're good ideas. Blackberry picking is one of those things. In my head, I had some Milly-Molly-Mandy -esque vision of myself in a summer dress with a basket on my arm, skipping down paths in the afternoon sunshine and plucking ripe, dark berries from bushes.

We used to go blackberry picking near where I live when we were little. We'd all get a bag and get as many as possible, and my mum would give us useful hints such as 'don't pick the ones near the ground in case a dog's weed there' (not very helpful as we were all about two feet high and couldn't reach any higher). This may sound idyllic (what, you mean dog piss doesn't appeal to you?) but in fact it was more a berry-picking frenzy than a peaceful afternoon in the fresh air; if we got enough my mum would make blackberry crumble icecream. Obviously we took it very seriously.

Anyway, it's been a few years since then, so a few weeks ago I decided to don my metaphorical summer dress and recreate my childhood. Perhaps this might be more successful if I tried it now, when the blackberries are actually out, but in my defence I had it on very good authority from my mother that there were some berries around. Last time I listen to her.

The first problem I encountered was a serious lack of bushes: someone seemed to have come along and chopped them all down. Right, I thought, probably someone's seen people skipping around picking blackberries and the council have come along to prevent this sort of merry-making (the council are a bit that way inclined round here). Ha! Try and stop me, killjoys!

My skipping picked up a bit after this discovery, to spite them.

The second problem was that time must have dimmed my childhood memories, because I'd forgotten one crucial berry-picking factor: blackberries grow on bramble bushes.

Well! I thought; at least my summer dress was only metaphorical and I was wearing my manly welly boots. I strode through the undergrowth, undeterred!

I then discovered that my mother had basically lied to me when she said the blackberries were out. What she really meant was that THIS blackberry was out.

That was the first one I came across (I had been striding through the undergrowth for about fifteen minutes then, and was starting to get a bit desperate). It was also the last one I came across, until about twenty minutes striding later. At this point striding had lost its novelty. As had the undergrowth. In fact I was starting to empathise with whoever had chopped down half the bushes in the first place. If I'd had an axe I'd have hacked them down myself.

No, I'd have hacked them down with a pair of scissors by that point.

...Actually, if I'd had a bloody nail file I'd have taken the bastards on.
(It was raining by this point, by the way. Just dropping that one in there).

Clutching my bag (complete with its two lonely blackberries) I decided that the time had come for a change of tactics. No more scanning the hedgerows; I tramped along, picked out the biggest, nastiest, prickliest bushes I could find and waded into the middle of them - I'd reached the conclusion that this was (typically) the only place that there were actually any berries to be found.

I don't remember Milly Molly Mandy ever having to do that.

Anyway, this led to success! ... Albeit not a lot of success. My mum's blackberry crumble ice cream calls for 500g of berries (and she usually makes double quantites), and once I'd staggered home clutching these and swearing under my breath, I found I had about 250g.

Yeah, well. It wasn't really ice cream weather, anyway.

You'll see these babies reincarnated soon, you have my word ^__^

Sunday 2 September 2007

Party Food

OK, so I'm kind of ashamed. I set up the shiny new blog... and then I went gallivanting off on a family holiday without a word to anyone, and with no regard for all the food bloggers of legend and other lovely people who left me birthday messages and comments (though in my defence, I genuinely expected people to just ignore me). So I really want to say a massive thankyou to everyone who left a comment, I was a bit shocked really touched.

What with having been in France for the past decade (if you're wondering what a holiday with my family feels like, bash your head against a brick wall a few times to get the same effect) I've not been cooking, so I'm just going to share something I made for my birthday (now an embarassingly long few weeks ago).

I don't exactly know where this recipe came from, as I got it from a handwritten book of my mum's - she writes down any recipes she uses. However she doesn't source them, so in the event of a legal battle it's my mother's fault if I go the prison. Just dropping that in there.

Salmon pesto pinwheels
Makes 18
Preparation: about 5-10 mins
Cooking: 15 mins

213g can red salmon (my mum's written to use more, but this was enough for me. Kind of fortunately, because I didn't actually have any more salmon)
Olive oil for greasing
375g ready-bought block of puff pastry
2 tbsp red pesto sauce

1. Drain the salmon, and remove the skin and bone. Use a fork to flake it. You'll probably find about a billion more bones at this point, cause salmon's a bitch like that. Heat your oven to 200C and brush two baking sheets with oil.

2. Roll out the puff pastry into a big rectangle (if you want to make this bit more interesting, you could be like me, and not let it thaw properly first). The long side should be about 25cm long, and the shorter side should be... a bit shorter.

3. Spread pesto evenly over the surface of the pastry and sprinkle the salmon over the top of that and roll it up from the long side into a sausage. Slice into 18 pieces - they should each be about half an inch (1.5cm) thick. Lay them on the baking sheets with gaps between them and bake for 15 minutes.

This is madly easy and you can do it in no time; just wander off to watch Neighbours or something while they're in the oven. They also freeze beautifully... as you can see if you look closely at the photos. I swear I will have the patience to let something defrost properly one day...