Spice it up

Start a saucy affair

How do you fancy something hot this summer? We all like a bit of spice in our lives now and again. Well, this week I’m going to give you all the ingredients you will need to “start a saucy affair”!

Some like it hot

There are any number of sauces and marinades on the market, all winking at you from the Supermarket shelves, with their bright labelling and clever marketing slogans all begging you to “EAT ME”. Do you ever pick up one of these products and read the ingredients? In most cases you will find the second one is usually sugar! Below you will find two recipes for sultry summer days, which are quick and easy to make and do not contain huge amounts of sugar, salt and other additives. Both recipes can be made in advance and stored in the fridge:

chicken, juices, roasting, sauce, healthy eating
Reserved roasting juices

Spicy Barbequed Chicken

You will need one large fresh free range chicken, or you can use, chicken pieces, thighs, drumsticks etc. If using a whole chicken, turn the chicken onto its breast on a chopping board. Using a sharp knife. cut through the chickens back bone from one end to the other. Turn the chicken over, place in a roasting tin, flattening the chicken and make slashes into the breast and legs of the chicken, to help absorb the sauce into the meat. The chicken will cook through quicker, with this method.

Set the oven

  • 1tbspn Mustard Powder
  • 1tbspn Curry Powder
  • 2tspns Chilli powder or to taste.
  • 1tbspn Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1tbspn Maple syrup
  • 1tspn Cider Vinegar
  • 4tbspns Tomato Ketchup
  • 2tbspns Olive oil

Place all ingredients in a bowl, whisk together to emulsify.

Spread all over the chicken, rubbing well into the slashes you have made. Roast at 200c, Gas Mk6, 400f, for about 1 hour, ( or barbecue ) still thoroughly cooked through. (If you use the Barbeque for this dish, you will not have the juices for the salad).

Drain the juices from the roasted chicken into a bowl. Whisk in 1 crushed clove of garlic. (Reserve for pasta salad)

Remove chicken to a serving dish.

salad, leftovers, sun dried, olives, pasta,
Pasta & Veg Salad

Pasta and Veg Salad

Cook 1 packet of wholemeal pasta, in salted boiling water, with a drop of oil, until al dente. Meanwhile, in a large wok or frying pan gently fry for 10 mins:

  • 1 chopped red onion
  • 2 chilli’s chopped (or to taste)
  • 2 large courgettes. halved lengthwise & sliced
  • 2 large red peppers, deseeded and sliced

Drain the pasta, Pour the reserved juices from the chicken over the veg, allow to bubble for 5 mins. Remove from heat. Add the drained pasta to the veg and mix to blend. Add:

  • 4 chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 2 tspns Capers, drained
  • 2 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
  • 3 tbspns Olives, drained.
  • 2 tbsns Fresh basil and parsley chopped
  • Seasoning to taste

Mix together well, season to taste, serve with the chicken and salad leaves.

Any left over pasta salad and chicken can be stored in the fridge and mixed together to serve for tomorrows supper.

Enjoy your home made food and say NO to convenience foods. Its better for you and your pocket.

Fresh and Healthy

Say No to convenience foods

Following on from last weeks blog: https://truffleicious.blog/2019/07/06/summer-salads/ This week we continue with the fresh and healthy eating theme. Firmly saying NO to pe-packed, sugar and salt laden convenience foods.

Convenience foods, are notoriously bad for you as well as being considerably more expensive than fresh foods cooked from scratch. The salt and sugars added to these products are there to enhance the flavour and texture of otherwise, tasteless, over processed ingredients.

salads, olive oil, healthy eating, gluten free, pulses
Super Summer Salads

This week, I have for you a few quick recipes and tips, which I hope will inspire you to change both your eating and shopping habits for good.

Make your own dressings

Its really easy and much more cost effective to whisk up you own dressings. If you make a large amount in one go – I make 1ltr – and divide it equally into four different screw top jars. Empty gin or wine bottles are excellent or storing dressings, you are also doing your bit to save the planet at the same time. Special equipment, is not needed to make dressings. A simple balloon whisk will do, failing that a fork will combine the ingredients. After decanting into the storage bottles or jars, give them a good shake before serving, the ingredients will then emulsify – make sure the top is securely screwed on -.

recycling, dressings, salads, herbs, homemade
Gin bottle dressings
  • For the basic recipe you will need:
  • 180ml extra virgin Olive oil or Rapeseed oil
  • 60ml white, red or cider vinegar
  • 5ml Dijon on coarse grain mustard
  • Freshly ground salt and black pepper

Makes 240ml. Place all the ingredients into a large jug or bowl and whisk together, taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

You can experiment by using different flavoured oils, mustards & vinegars to your liking. If you find olive oil to strong a taste, replace half or all with rapeseed oil.

If making double the above recipe, divide into four. Add to each of the four portions of oil, add one of the recipes below:

herbs, basil, mint, dill, rosemary, lemon balm
Garden fresh herbs
  • Fresh Herb Vinaigrette 4 tabs Chopped herbs. eg: Basil, Mint, Thyme, Lemon Balm, Dill etc. A simple dressing for any salad.
  • Garlic and Chilli Dressing Add as many fresh crushed garlic cloves & chopped chillies to your taste. Drizzle over you home made pizza or mixed with sweetcorn & pulses for a ziggy bean salad.
  • Blue Cheese and Chive Dressing Mash 100g Blue Cheese with 2 tabs Milk. Add 2 tabs, freshly chopped chives. Whisk into the oil dressing. Gorgeous with wedges of Iceberg Lettuce.
  • Feta and Dill Dressing Mash 100g Feta Cheese with 2 Tabs Lemon Juice, Stir in 2 tabs freshly chopped dill. Whisk in the oil dressing. Lovely served with a traditional Greek Salad, or a simple cucumber salad.

You can experiment with the different ingredients, to make your favourite dressing, to use with your BBQ goodies.

Instead of buying tubs of Coleslaw or Potato Salads try making your own, by combining, grated or shredded veg (carrots, courgettes, red onions & fennel), or cooked potatoes with one of the dressing above. Your options are endless. Go on. Have a go, you know you want too.

For more recipes you can make from scratch, click the link below:

A Cook in the Baking

Here at TRUFFLEicious/Wiltshire Artisans we know all about the small food business, not because we have done a couple of baking courses & think we know it all, but because over the years, (about 40), to be precise, we have done it. Several times. I am definitely a cook in the baking.

cake, chocolate, homemade, small business, cookery
A chocolate treat

We have never been, or wanted to be a large food business, small & exclusive, I think are the words that describes us best. Circumstances prevailed, when it was not always possible to continue those businesses, but never the less our passion for food & creativity has led us down different paths, over the years.

Learning the basics of cookery, like most girls in my youth (this was 40 yrs ago), from my mother, I had various jobs in kitchens during the school holidays where I learnt even more about food & my passion was born.

Leaving school, my teachers thought I was bound for Art College, but it was not to be “out to work & earn some money” my father told me and so off I went. The Lady Magazine, a publication which still exists today, was the key to my short term future.

“Cook required for small family of 5. Large Rectory in the rural Cotswold’s. Simple daily cooking & some entertaining at weekends”. Putting pen to paper, (no e-mails in those days,) I applied & two weeks later I was installed in my first proper cooking job. I thoroughly enjoyed the 5 years I spent here, the family were lovely, I had a cosy little cottage in the grounds & learnt a lot – about people & food.

During my time at the Rectory I was introduced to many interesting people, made even more fascinating because my cookery skills were in demand. I made steak & kidney pies for local pubs, cakes for cafe’s & cooked dinner parties for friends of my employer. One particular lady, the grand-daughter of a famous composer, lived in a beautiful Elizabethan Manor House. Finding times difficult, she started a bed a breakfast business for visiting Americans. Dinner in the evening was becoming a necessity, my services were needed on an ad hoc basis, a cottage became available on her estate, & the rest, as they say, is history.

cooking, history, small business, food, changing world
A Cook in the baking

Farm Cottage was started from my kitchen in rural Gloucestershire. Having obtained a list of names from my landlady I set about creating a mail shot. This was hard work in the pre-internet years. I hand wrote menus on vellum paper, stapled them into booklets and popped them into 25 large envelopes. I then sat back & waited for the phone to ring & ring it did.

Read more of my journey, in a later post on this site.

menu, mail shot, advertising, small business
A menu from the past

Taste have we lost it?

Taste, how do you like your food

Are we becoming a society that has lost its taste?

By taste. I do not mean in the way we dress, or the amount of dubious celebrity gossip we devour on a daily basis. I mean, in this instance, our taste buds.

We all appear to be concerned with perfection in every thing, which in itself is commendable, but when it comes to food, what may be perfection on the outside, is not necessarily so on the inside.

We seemed to be overly obsessed with gluten free, dairy free, going vegetarian or vegan & eating raw or natural foods, food miles etc, however, when it comes to what were are really putting into our bodies, we appear to ignore, what additives or preservatives are in a product & just munch away, as long as it looks perfect & suits our skewed values.

Last week, meat was discovered in two major supermarkets vegetarian ready meals. Wether this was an error on the production line, or an additive – such as gelatine – that had been overlooked in the recipe, it is yet to be known. The point is if we really cared about what goes into our mouths, we would be cooking our own meals from fresh natural ingredients, to ensure our meals are healthy, natural & fresh, not leave it celebrities & mass food producers, too persuade us that their products are the “best thing since sliced bread”.

Food,bread, baking, bakery,homemade
Homemade. The best thing since sliced bread

It is strange, that as we have become so obsessed with food & diet, we seem to have a total disregard for the health & nutritional values of the very stuff that keeps our bodies both healthy & alive.

From my small converted Stable Kitchen in Wiltshire, I endeavour to provide my customers with, fresh totally homemade food, in which I also take the nutritional value into account.

Not for me bowls of the ubiquitous Coleslaw – limp white cabbage & soggy old carrots – smothered in artificial high calorie mayo.

Food,salad, healthy eating,fresh food
Healthy salads with homemade herb dressing
Super homemade salads
Food,homemade,bread,bluecheese,salad
Homemade blue cheese Bread & salad

All my breads are homemade, I offer five different varieties, all made with spelt & rye flours. Soups, in the winter, are all made with fresh local veg & my cakes are all made from my own recipes, being low in fat & sugar, some gluten free. I do not use butter cream or mirror glazes on my cakes, the cake itself needs to be full of taste & you really do not need the extra fat & sugar to mask the flavour. Ok, I know it may be ascetically pleasing, but your body won’t thank you for it, in more ways than one.

On a final point, a yummy, glutenfree Mummy, asked yesterday “What cake do you have” I pointed to the Strawberry & Lemon Mousse cake, pictured in the header of this blog & she replied “That’s not really a child’s cake” When I inquired as to why she said it hasn’t got any chocolate sweets & artificial gold stars on. Ahgggggggg.

Bread, a Low fodmap Diet no no?

The one thing I would miss on a Low Fodmap Diet would be bread. I love bread, any type of bread. It is said that bread is the staff of life & for me, its certainly true. I am not talking sliced white, wholemeal or fluffy processed baps, I’m talking rustic, nutty granary bread baked by a local baker [I hate the term Artisan] or home made, not the mass produced items, found in Supermarkets. Give me a metre of a proper french stick, a large lump of Sourdough or a Stilton & Walnut Loaf, together with some tangy cheese or home made pate with a side of olives, some crunchy homegrown lettuce, ripe juicy tomatoes & I am in heaven. Of course, I would also like a large glass of red or white, depending on the season, to wash it all down.

Bread, is one of the things I found, caused me great discomfort. A pair of jeans would feel quite comfortable, until I ate some bread. One slice of toast in the morning would have me thinking I had put on half a kilo in 5 mins. So, I decided to experiment with my own recipe Spelt bread. Although Spelt is not Gluten Free, it is lower in Gluten than other flours, due to the fact that it has a different molecular make up, to the gluten contained in modern wheat. Spelt is higher in fibre than most forms of wheat, its naturally occurring gluten is more water soluble, is degraded by heat & easily broken down, by the kneading action of bread making, which makes it easier to digest.

gluten, linseeds, low foodmap, bread, spelt
Home made Low Gluten Spelt & Rye Rolls

Although not suitable for Celiacs, I have found this bread, which I now make every day, is perfect for me. In addition Spelt has more vitamins than wholewheat flour. I vary the changes with this bread to which I also add a vegetable, carrot one day or beetroot the next. Seeds are another favourite.

As well as bread I also make my own pastry with Spelt & Rye flours. Pastry is very easy to make in a food processor or mixer. It takes about the same amount of time, that it takes to fight your way into a shop bought packet of pastry. You can make up a large batch of pastry, weigh it into portions & freeze. You can be sure that your homemade pastry or bread is full of natural ingredients & does not contain any additives, preservatives or large amounts of sugar and salt.

food, bread, pastry, rye, spelt, low fodmap diet,
A vegetarian feast

As I have said in a previous blog Food, what can I eat. You have to experiment & discover what is right for you. If you cook healthy home made food from fresh natural ingredients, you can be sure you are not intolerant to the vast array of “extras” which are added to today’s unnaturally processed foods. But, that’s another story.