Blueberry pancakes

I have to thank my cousin Laura and her husband for the inspiration for these.  They made them for us on a recent family get together and they’re just the best pancakes ever.

The blueberries add a sweetness and juiciness which takes them to another level.  Add a couple of rashers of crispy bacon and a generous drizzle of maple syrup for breakfast nirvana.  Very popular with two year olds!

Blueberry pancakes

Makes 12 or so

Dry ingredients

150g / 6oz plain flour
40g / 1.5 oz vanilla sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients

1/2 pint buttermilk
50g / 2oz melted butter
1 egg

and…

a small punnet of blueberries

1. Mix the wet and the dry ingredients in separate bowls.

2. Pour half of the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well.  Then stir the remaining dry ingredients in.

3. Heat a pan to medium heat and dollop on a couple of spoonfuls of mixture.

4. Add three or four blueberries to the top of each pancake.

5. Turn when browned and bubbles appear, which should take around 90 seconds.  In another 90 seconds or so they will be perfectly cooked.

6. Serve with butter, maple syrup and crispy rashers of bacon (plus sausages and a poached egg according to Him Indoors.)

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Chocolate chip buns

I know these are so easy you barely even need a recipe, but if you’re into speedy baking these take 15 minutes to make and another 15 to cook (5 to scoff the lot.)

Great to make with kids too.  So straightforward you might even get them in the oven before they get bored and run off to dismantle the television.

Chocolate chip buns

Makes 12

100g / 4oz self-raising flour
100g / 4oz butter
100g / 4oz caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
large handful of chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas 5.
2. Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add the eggs a little at a time and mix in.
4. Fold in the flour and mix thoroughly.
5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
6. Spoon into bun cases and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and springy.

The tiniest water butt in Europe

Maybe.  It is laughably small.  Still, it holds three watering cans worth, perfect for sprinkling my lettuce seedlings.  Slugs and snails circle the veg patch, waiting for the little shoots to get big enough for a decent meal.  I wonder (again) whether I could squeeze a small chicken/quail coop into the garden?  It would be deeply satisfying to pluck a snail, mid-munch from the lettuce patch, and chuck it straight in with of a couple of hungry hens.  That’d learn it.  Turning snails into eggs, now that’s recycling.

In other news, I have been conducting an archeological dig in my compost heap.  I have found large quantities of leaves, grass clippings and woody prunings c.2008 all of which had formed stoic layers, entirely un-rotted, exactly as they were when I foolishly put them in.

I have learnt the hard way that building a compost heap does not mean you can shove every piece of garden waste into a pile and expect black gold in 6 months.  A lot of stuff still has to go into landfill, unless you’re prepared to invest in a chipper, which frankly, would be truly ridiculous in my garden.  I do cut some stuff up by hand, but there are limits.  Some things just aint gonna rot quickly.  Avocado stones, for example, have a half life of approximately 483 years, from what I can gather.

Happily, I have discovered that the answer with grass clippings is just not to collect them in the first place.  Let ’em die where they fall, far less hassle all round, and they even act as a rather neat green mulch for the lawn (if you can call a patch of grass the size of a postage stamp a lawn), so you should end up with greener grass into the bargain.

I have also discovered an incredible bread recipe/method via angry chicken, which is awesome.  I made some today.  It is easy, it is cheap, and it turns out bread just like the stuff from the artisan boulangerie (in Tooting? I hear you cry – it is true, it exists) down the road, except that you don’t have to pay £3.20 a pop.  Not only that but it’s the first time I’ve bought a specialist cookery book and managed to make the stuff with things I already had in my kitchen.  You don’t have to buy special equipment or ingredients, you don’t have to sit and spoon feed some kind of absurdly complicated yeast starter for a week and a half or anything.  Brilliant.

Scones

You just can’t beat a scone with raspberry jam and clotted cream.  This is my Mum’s recipe, you can find a recipe for the raspberry jam here.  I dare say you can probably make your own clotted cream too if you’re really keen, but I’m afraid I haven’t ventured into anything that advanced… yet.

Scones

Makes 8 large or 16 small

250g / 10oz plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
50g / 2oz unsalted butter
2 tbsp caster sugar, plus a little for dusting
100ml milk, plus a little for glazing

1. Preheat oven to 220°C / 428°F / Gas 7.
2. Put flour and baking powder in a bowl.  
3. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub in. 
4. Stir in the sugar.  
5. Mix in the milk until the mixture comes together to form a nice dough. 
6. Knead a little then roughly pat down until about an inch high all over. 
7. Cut out scones, reforming the dough until it is all used up. 
8. Place scones on a greased tin, glaze with milk and sprinkle with sugar. 
9. Place in the oven for 12-15 minutes. 
10. Smother with clotted cream and jam and scoff with a nice cup of tea.

Easiest ever chocolate brownies

This may not be the ultimate brownie recipe, but it is really easy, and the low oven temperature and long cooking time result in a beautifully crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside cake which is just brilliant.

Easiest ever chocolate brownies

makes 12-16

200g / 7oz caster sugar
2 eggs
110g / 4oz unsalted butter
3 tbsp cocoa powder
90g / 3oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas 2.  Beat eggs and sugar together.  Melt butter in a small pan and add the cocoa powder.  Pour into the egg mixture and stir to combine.  Sift in flour and baking powder and mix.

Pour into a 15 x 25cm (6 x 10 inch) tin, lined with greaseproof paper and bake for 45 minutes.  Turn out onto a cooling rack, remove paper and chop into pieces.