Caramelised Onion, Feta & Beetroot Tart

At the weekend I was down on the allotment and dug the last of the beetroot from the plot (I wanted to dig over that part of the plot in preparation for the new growing season). There were quite a few good ones, but not quite enough to pickle or store for the longer term so I decided to make a tart with them.

I used a sheet of ready-made puff pastry (because that’s what I had), and greased and lined my quiche dish with it, as it takes approx half the sheet of pastry I cut the remainder into strips to add to the top of the tart once the filling was in.

I cut up two medium sized onions and gently sauteed them in a little olive oil, as they were browning I added some butter and once that had melted a tablespoon of brown sugar and allowed them to caramelise on a low heat.

I boiled the beetroot, and removed the skins and then sliced roughly into chunks.

Once the onions were ready I added them as a layer to the bottom of the flan and then tipped the beetroot and some roughly chopped feta on top.

I whisked up a couple of large eggs with approximately 100ml of milk seasoned with pepper and added this to the flan. Then topped off with the remaining puff pastry strips.

Cooked for about 40 mins at gas mark 6, until the milk / egg mixture had solidified. Served with some mixed green veg.

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Posted in Cooking, Fork To Fork | Tagged , , , , , ,

New Year (Again)

Why is it that we always hail the New Year in the way that we do. We mark the passing of time, and the resetting of the calendar back to the start but is January 1st that much different to December 31st?

It makes more sense to me to mark the seasonal equinoxes and the turning of the seasons that brings about. I’m marking time until the weather improves a little more and I can return to the plot and plant new crops as well as tending to those that are overwintering.

I picked up this theme this year in one of my allotment presentations that I give on a regular basis. The talk is titled An Allotment Year, and it seems that I’m expected to talk about a calendar year, sometimes a seasonal year, but I break it down differently. Split into four I talk about: “Planning and Preparing”, “Sowing and Planting”, “Nurturing and Maintaining”, “Harvesting and Relaxing”. Once the audience gets the idea it seems to go down very well.

Nevertheless it is “New Year” again, and I’m not sure what is in front of me. I am going to try and get back into writing here a little more that I was the second half of last year, but I’m not clear in my mind what that looks like. I have a few family commitments which are likely to take up a lot of time and could dominate my life if I’m not careful and I’m unlikely to be talking much about them here. Otherwise the usual fare is likely along the lines of the allotment, cooking, natural history and related things.

In the meantime however I’ll leave you with a picture of the first of the batch of Christmas puddings I made towards the end of last year. It came out very well, if I do say so myself. If you want the recipe scroll down on the homepage, it should be just below this post or look at the posts for November 2018.

Posted in Life

Best Reads of 2018

GoodReads prompted me this morning with an email about my year in books. You can see the update on my GoodReads page here. I’m not sure that I’ll get through anymore books before the end of the year, but I’ve managed to read 52 this year (although a few of these where actually quite short, so I’m not sure it’s quite the same as reading 52 tomes!)

There have been a few highlights for me out of the 52 though. In the order they were read, they include:

Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest Expeditions by David Attenborough – Although this is essentially a reprint of some earlier editions of this book, it was wonderful to step back in time with the author to when an expedition wasn’t accompanied by loads of technology, and the wildlife was less vulnerable and exploited than it is today. As someone who is credited with being one of the great natural historians of modern times, this was originally written long before he was as well known as he is today. I enjoyed it immensely and am really pleased that I have the next volume in the series on my bookshelf to read, probably early next year or over the festive period.

Under The Rock: The Poetry of a Place by Benjamin Myers – Very much a book of the landscape, nature and the human interface I read most of this in just over a day. It was over too soon, and I know it’s a book that I am likely to revisit again and again. It’s also shaped how I look at the world now, giving me a different lense through which I see things.

The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal by Horatio Clare – I’ve read several of this authors books this year, all have been excellent but this is the pick of the crop for me.  It’s the authors story of a winter through mental difficulties but one which is as inspiring as it is troubling. It’s a wonderfully written, candid account and another book that I know I will read time and again.

I’m leaving my list here, because although I’ve read many fine books these are the standout three for me, I can only hope that I read as many splendid ones in 2019.

Posted in Annual Review, Book Review, books | Tagged , , , ,

Making Christmas Puddings (Gluten Free, Virtually Fat Free and No Added Sugar)

It’s that time of the year when baking and making turns to Christmas.

I doubled up the ingredients in the video, but here they are to make a approximate 2.5 pint pudding:

225g whole sultanas (minced)
225g whole sultanas
225g large raisins (minced)
75g large raisins
16 giant prunes (soaked for 48hrs, then stoned and minced)
100g walnuts & almonds finely chopped
250ml prune juice (from soaking prunes)
1tsp ground mixed spice
Zest of half-a-lemon
225g ground almonds or hazlenuts
125ml brandy or whisky
2 egg yolks beaten

Posted in Cooking, Fork To Fork, Self-sufficient | Tagged , , , , , ,

Making Jams and Jellies

It’s that time of year when the preserving pan comes out and I turn some of the produce from the allotment and elsewhere into preserves: jams, chutneys, jellies, and pickles.

I made some pumpkin and ginger jam (which always turns out more like a marmalade) and a first for me, quince jelly. For both of these I made videos of the process. You can watch these below.

Pumpkin & Ginger Jam

 

 

Quince Jelly

Posted in Cooking, Fork To Fork, Self-sufficient, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Dorset Apple Cake

I had a gift of a bag full of cooking apples at the weekend, and made a couple of different things. First an apple crumble, and then also a Dorset Apple Cake. I recorded the apple cake production (see below). I’m also planning to make something called Friar’s Omelette, which is nothing like an omelette, but another cake, before I can do that I need to top up some ingredients.

Posted in Cooking, Video | Tagged , , , ,

The Rain Came

On Friday I recorded this short allotment update:

We had a little rain overnight on Friday, and a little more on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday we had rain pretty much the entire day. As I sit at my desk writing this it looks like we might get a little more. We needed that Sunday rain more than either of the two previous showers, which hardly made the soil damp, but even so the ground isn’t wet, and our garden pond is still a long way off of being full again.

Posted in Garden / Allotment, Video, Wildlife/Nature | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments