Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Originally uploaded by Mr_Chips

This is a wonderful light cake that my mother makes. It is simple to make and very heart warming.
250 g unsalted butter
250g castor sugar
4 large eggs
zest of a lemon
250 g self -raising flour
8 tablespoons milk.
For the syrup
juice of 3 lemons and 200g icing sugar

Cream the sugar and buuter. Add the eggs with a little of the flour add the meon zest. Fold the flour into the mixture with milk. Spoon into a cake tin and cook at about 180C for about 45 minutes.
Prepare the syrup whilst the cake is cooking and enjoy a cup of tea. Just put the lemon juice into a suacepan with the icing sugar and heat until the sugar disolves. When the cake is done, spike the top with a skewer and pour the syrup over the top to soak in. Leave in the tin until the cake is cooled.


Crab Apple Jelly


Originally uploaded by Mr_Chips

Crab Apple Jelly
I am always amazed at the sight of wild crab apples hanging from autumnal branches in the woods where you least expect to see apples. Sometimes there is the sad site of a tree that has lost its load and there is a carpet of apples at its feet. Slowing fermenting in the late indian summer or being nibbled by muntjac deer. Too sour to eat raw they make a lovely jelly and combined with a few sloes or rosehips to add a red glow they form a work of art with the sun glinting through them on the kitchen shelf.

This is a delicious jelly to eat with lamb but can be a useful accompaniment to many dishes. The addition of sloes or rosehips will add a pleasant tinge of red to the jelly. You could also try cranberries. You could leave out the rosemary for a plainer version. You can also add a pint of cider vinegar which gives the jelly a bit of a kick.
A big bag of crab apples
2 hand fuls of rosehips or sloes
You will need to measure the resulting juices but about 3Ibs of sugar for 3 pints of liquid but this will depend on how much you obtain from your apples.
Sprigs of rosemary.

Every pint of liquid use a lb of sugar
Collect a bag of wild crab apples avoiding heavily bruised ones. About 3 lb.
Wash the apples and chop into quarters. Put them in a preserving pan and cover with water. Then cook until they all go soft and mash them up a bit with a wooden spoon.
Cook up the rosehips or sloes in a separate pan with water and cook until they go mushy and then add the mush to the main mix.
Pour all the mix into a jelly bag and leave overnight for the juice to drip out. You are left with a clear juice.
Simmer the liquid in a pan (about 20 minutes) with the sprigs of resemary to create an infusion then strain back into the preserving pan.
Measure the liquid and then add 1 lbs of sugar for every pint of liquid. Boil rapidly until a set is obtained. The sound of boiling will change and it goes frothy on top. Use a saucer from the freezer to test the set by putting a dropof the liquid back in the freezer for a minute or two to cool. Test to see if it has set.
Skim the liquid and then pour into heated jars. As they cool put a fresh sprig of rosemary into each jar for decoration.

Redcurrant Jelly Recipe

Redcurrant jelly

Originally uploaded by Mr_Chips

I love to use redcurrant jelly as an accompaniment to lamb and pheasant and this is the time of the year to make it.
Picking the redcurrants is quite a job because they hide away under the leaves. You can strip them off easily once you find them, stalks and all. You need quite a lot and we managed about 4 bowls of currants and ended up with – well, you will have to see.
Redcurrants this recipe is for 4 large bowls about 4 lb.
Castor sugar
Wash the redcurrants and put them in a large preserving pan with about a 1 pint of water. Heat gently to release the juice and stir frequently. Cool. Pour everything into a jelly bag and hang it up over a bowl overnight. In them morning, make yourself a strong cup of tea and inspect the bowl. It doesn’t look much but you should have a lovely deep red juice. Measure it. I got 1 1/4 pints. I added 1 1/4 lbs of sugar. In other words – the same amount of sugar in lbs weight.
Put back into the preserving pan and stir with the sugar and boil. I tested the set by keeping some saucers in the freezer. I then put a drop on the saucer and put back in the freezer to cool for a moment or tro. Run your finger through and it should be jelly like. If not – keep boiling. Finally, cool and add to warmed jars.
How much did I make? From 4 large bowls of redcurrants we made 5 small jars of jelly. It seems a lot of effort for a small amount but it goes a long way and is delicious.

The etiquette of paths and mussels

Well it was up early with the croissants and off to explore some chateaux under a rather grey sky. I am loathe to admit, whilst on holiday in the South of France, that it had been raining during the night but yes the morning was distinctly miserable and several cups of tea did nothing to shift the misery.

First stop was the Chateau de Queribus and it was still early so not too many people about. The road winds up the hill near the village of Cucugan. It was a refuge for Cathar deacons as late as 1241 and was eventually made into a royal palace. The site itself is a spectacular hill fortress and the path winds up the side and one is blown away by the wind that wraps itself around the hill as I reached the gateway. It was a struggle to pull myself up the final steps and then you feel safe within the castle walls. If I was part of a marauding enemy, of course, I would feel anything but safe as the arrow slits are lined up for a ‘shoot to kill’ policy and the usual traps over the gateways where they could pour boiling hot tea down onto your head. Not my sort of welcome.

It is hard to believe that this castle could have been built on such a high point of a mountain but stands here it does and there are a whole load of stairways and passages to explore and magnificent views out across the Rousillon plain. The mountains of Canigou were pushing their tops into the cloud cover and I imagine it would look wonderful in the depths of winter.

Back at the kiosk we had one of the worst cups of coffee that France has ever produced before retiring to the car for the croissants and a chance to admire the beautiful lenticular clouds that were hanging around over the hills. They are formed from the air moving in a wave like flow over the mountain tops and produce the wonderfully smooth clouds that look like martian flying saucers in the sky. Such peaceful thoughts were interrupted by two coaches arriving and discouraging hundreds of people. I wondered how many of them would notice the lenticular clouds?

On to Aguilar Chateau and there was no one there so we could have a really good look round this lovely small fort outpost set amongst some vineyards over the plains of Tuchen.

Finally, and there are only so many chateaux you can take in a day, to the Royal Fortress of Peyrepertuse. This was the biggest so far and very popular. This is a real ‘Buy one, get one free’ as it consists of two castles but maybe that’s why they charge almost twice the admission price of a normal castle! According to the blurb, it’s, ‘ an essential element in the French Kingdom’s defense system against Aragon’. It occurs to me that then they had the crusades and now we have the ‘war on terror’. Nothing much has changed. They had the Spanish Inquisition and we have tube bombers.

There are many narrow paths around the Chateau of Peyrepertuse and this means that one is continually having to give way to people on narrow staircases, let people overtake or overtake others if I consider they are going too slow. I never like this mixing with so many people and inevitably I get very annoyed by just these other people and their lack of politeness. People who tread hard on your heels, then when you turn round and say, ‘après vous’, they say decline and say, ‘non, ‘après VOUS’, but then they still stay hard on your heels and you think what are they up to? Then there are others who are walking towards you on a narrow ledge so when I stand aside to let them pass, they look through you and don’t say a word. I wish I hadn’t bothered!


Originally uploaded by Mr_Chips

This evening we cooked fresh moule marinere.


Lots of mussels

Onions or shallots,

White wine

Melt the chopped onions in some butter and add the wine. Clean up the mussels and remove any ‘beard’ like attachments. Throw away any mussels that are open.

Heat up the onion and wine mixture until boiling in a large pan , add the mussels and put the lid on to steam them. After about 5-10 minutes most of them will have opened. Eat them from the pan, using one mussel as a pair of tweezers. Eat with fresh bread and dip the bread into the ‘soup’. Throw away any mussels that are closed.

Delicious with a glass of Fitou red wine.

Baked Rhubarb with honey


Originally uploaded by Mr_Chips

Forcing rhubarb is a barbaric practice carried out by primitive tribes in the north of England. This cruel torture is performed to create early sweeter rhubarb stalks. They do this in darkened sheds operating only by candlelight. It’s time to bring it out in the open. Stand up for rhubarb freedom!

I love eating rhubarb but I have been looking for an alternative from cooking in water which makes the Rhubarb mushy. When I saw Hugh Fernley-Wittingstall baking them with honey I couldn’t wait to try it out and it worked brilliantly.
Sticks of rhubarb
Generous helpings of honey
Ice- cream to serve

Chop up the rhubarb is chunks and put in a baking tray. Pour the honey over the top and bake at about 100C for thirty minutes until the rhuarb is soft. Serve with ice-cream or yoghurt.

Raspberry sorbet


Originally uploaded by Mr_Chips

Now the raspberries are coming to fruition I reach for the recipe books. The raspberry cage has become a little overgrown so one has the joy of pushing the nettles aside to reach those ripe fruits. They are delicious to eat fresh or maybe on the Ravenous Rambler Breakfast. My favourite though is raspberry sorbet and I think I have found an excellent quick way of making it.
Before I tell you the recipe though, I have been reading Christopher Lloyd on the Gardener Cook. He reminded me that if you plant a mixture of canes in the same cage they sucker off each other and you end up with the same type of raspberry. They need a rich soil and it worth giving them a good mulch of garden compost each year. When you pick them – they hide away under the leaves and you have to look carefully to find them.
Most of the recipe books say that you should cook up a sugar syrup but I just wanted to make a sorbet in a short time so used the following rough recipe.

2 large soup containers full of raspberries.
4 tablespoons of icing sugar
1 lemon juice
About 1/2 pint of water

The amounts were rather rough. I just chucked the raspberries into the blender with the icing sugar and lemon juice. Blitzed them up with some of the water in a couple of goes and pressed the result through a sieve to catch the pips. Add the rest of the water to help wash through the juice.
Put the result in an ice cream blender and blend for about 10 minutes until it turns into a lovely smooth icy sorbet. Eat and freeze. If you don’t have an ice cream churner. Put in a container in the freezer and take it out every 15 minutes to stir so that it doesn’t crystallize.
This is a yummy sorbet and is good with some fresh raspberries as well. Enjoy and let me know how you get on.

Breakfast – Start the day the Rambler Way!

lomo thoughts

Originally uploaded by Mr_Chips

There is nothing like waking up late on a summer’s Sunday afternoon, doing a few chores and then settling down with a good breakfast and the papers. Choose a good spot outside in the shade and get everything ready. Put a large pot of coffee on and choose large cups with saucers to drink the coffee.
I remember having this breakfast as a treat at the Victoria Falls hotel in Zimbabwe where the fruit was all fresh fruit like papaya and guava. The monkeys snatched my bananas!

So prepare my dish of the day – breakfast muesli with yoghurt and honey.
any other fruit of your choice
Handful of sultanas
Cup of porridge oats
Mixed dried fruit and nuts of your choice. I like cranberries and hazelnuts.

Chop up all fruit and put into large deep cereal bowls. Pour on the oats and mix in the dried ingredients. Pour on the milk, yoghurt and honey and then make a large jug of coffee and some fresh orange juice. This gives the milk a chance to turn the oats nice and soggy.
Then settle down to enjoy this awesome treat.

If you still have room, make some toast and eat with some home made marmalade. This will set you up for a long walk in the afternoon and is an ideal feast to serve guests as it doesn’t need much preparation and I find making bacon and fried eggs just too hot in the Summer months.