We’ve had a pot of sloes in the fridge destined for Sloe Gin but the requisite gin has yet to be bought. Needing to use them up, I wondered if baking would make these mouth-puckeringly sour fruit more edible.
So I added the sloes to an oat-based cake I’ve been trying out using Grown in Totnes oats. Surprisingly they lost much of their astringent sharpness and were a lovely addition to this cake which I’ve also made with blackberry and apple and roasted rhubarb.
If de-stoning sloe sounds way too fiddly, you could just use apple in the cake. Then make a simple syrup with the sloes and pour over the top. As the last wild fruit of the season, it feels good to use what we have growing around us.
- 150g oats
- 150ml milk (any kind)
- 175g sugar
- 175g butter
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 175g flour (I used spelt)
- 3tsp baking powder
- 2-300g apple, chopped
- 100g sloes, stones removed
- Put the oats in a bowl and cover with the milk. Leave to soak for an hour or so, or overnight
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Cream the butter and sugar
- Add the eggs and beat together
- Add the flour and baking powder and mix well
- Fold in the apple and sloes
- Pour the batter into a large prepared cake tin (22cm). Top with sliced apple or sloes.
- Bake for 1hr – 1&1/4 hrs or until a skewer comes out clean
- Leave to cool slightly before turning out
A little bit more…..
If you’ve forgotten to get the butter out of the fridge, as I frequently do, you could also melt the butter with the sugar in a pan over a gentle heat first. Leave to cool slightly before adding the eggs then continue as above
Any fruit can be used, sharp flavours work well with the oats
Vanilla, cinnamon or ginger add lovely additional flavours
This works well as a tray bake, halving the baking time to around 30mins
A very easy comfort dish to make on a cold winter’s day and the winning recipe in the Guardian Cook, this week.
- 1 medium cauliflower, broken into florets
- 1 turnip, cut into wedges
- Olive oil
- 4-5 Bay leaves
- 1 firm pear, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 100g stilton or any blue cheese
- 50g walnuts or pecans, broken into chunky pieces
- Preheat oven to 180C
- In a shallow baking tray mix the cauliflower and turnip with a generous amount of olive oil, season well with salt and pepper and add the bay
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until soft
- Mix the garlic with a little olive oil, mix into the cauliflower
- Add the pear, Stilton and walnuts
- Bake for a further 10 minutes or so until the pear soft and cheese nicely melted
A little bit more…
I used purple skinned turnips as that’s what I had to hand, and for a little colour. Any root vegetable could be substituted, Jerusalem artichoke or celeriac, in particular, would be good
I used a local Devon Blue rather than stilton
This works equally well without the cheese. I’d add a drizzle of white miso mixed with a little water, as a salty contrast to the pear
This is a soup my mum always used to make on Boxing Day with generous amounts of cream and brandy but is equally good without. I used a local cheese called Blue Bay made in Sharpham, Devon but any blue cheese will be fine.
- 1 medium celeriac (about 700g), chopped
- 1 large potato (about 200g), chopped
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 stick celery, chopped
- 1 leek, sliced
- 4-5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1.5 litres vegetable or chicken stock
- 500ml milk
- 100g soft blue cheese, eg Cambozola
- Brandy, splash or glug (optional)
- Cream to drizzle on top (optional)
- Sage leaves, (fresh or fried in butter) to garnish, (optional)
- Gently fry the onion for 5 minutes or so
- Add the celeriac, potato, onion, celery, leek, and garlic, give it all a good stir then pour over the stock
- Cook on a medium heat until the celeriac and potato are soft, about 20 minutes
- Add the milk, 90g of the cheese and brandy, if using, and cook for a further 5 minutes
- Blend with a food processor or hand blender
- Pour into bowls, crumble the remaining blue cheese on top with a swirl of cream and sage leaves if using
February has been a mix of bitter cold with hard frosts and more snow with mild weather. Hints of spring are appearing with trees budding and the first pink plum blossom.
The beginning of January was very mild, then the wind changed, the temperature dropped and the snow came. Japanese housing is not suited for the cold and life becomes a little more arduous. Yet, it is incredibly beautiful and finally it feels like winter.
Zousui translates as a hodgepodge or medley soup. It is typically prepared after a nabe, a Japanese hotpot, which is simmered throughout the meal and continuously topped up with meat or fish and vegetables and cooked like a fondue at the table with everyone helping themselves. At the end of the evening a tasty stock remains to which you mix in rice, crack an egg on top, cover and cook until the egg has set.
In our house though, it also refers to a one-pot dish we often make for breakfast (or lunch) using left over miso soup and rice. It is incredibly quick and simple, and is very warming on a chilly winter morning.
My children and I prefer the consistency of a creamy risotto, whereas my husband likes his more soupy so adjust the liquid to rice ratio as you like. If you don’t have enough soup add some water and mix in some more miso or shoyu. I like to finely slice the konbu originally used to make the dashi for the miso soup and add that in, too. Japanese often discard it but it is full of magnesium so I also eat it or make tsukudani (konbu relish) from it.
- Cooked miso soup (or you could use a sachet of instant miso if you don’t have leftovers to hand)
- Cooked rice, hot or cold, enough to serve the number of people eating
- 1-2 Eggs (obviously use more for large quantities!)
- Cubes of tofu
- Handful of green leaves (spinach, mizuna, kale etc)
- Any cooked vegetables, pulse or grain
- Chopped spring onion
- Sesame seeds
- Slivers of ginger
- Heat the miso soup in a pan
- Mix in the rice, if cold heat till piping hot.
- Crack in 1-2 eggs. You can either swirl the egg around on top as above or mix in the eggs and cook until lightly set for a creamy zousui.
- Add the green leaves to wilt, if using.
Serve hot topped with spring onion and sesame and or ginger. I also like natto on mine! Pickles on the side is also good.
The turnips in Japan are crisp and sweet and come in a creamy white or brilliant magenta pink. The latter make beautiful, colourful pickles that brighten up a winter meal. I like to add the stalks for a little contrast in texture and colour.
- 1 turnip, preferably with stalks attached
- 1/2 tsp salt
- yuzu or lemon zest (optional)
- Wash the turnip and peel if necessary. Wash the stalks week of any grit or dirt.
- Cut the turnip in half, then into quarters.
- Thinly slice into crescents.
- Finely chop the stalks.
- Place in a bowl and add the salt.
- Gently rub the salt into the turnip.
- Leave overnight in the fridge (I have also left this for as little as half an hour).
- Drain most of the liquid but do not squeeze dry, you want the pickles to be moist.
- Add shavings of yuzu or lemon zest.
Keeps for several days in the fridge.