Tag Archives: mint

Shropshire Mint Cakes

Well, this is my first post in what I hope will become a series of Shropshire recipes. ( I suppose Fidget Pie was the first, but hey…).  Over the summer I found three books on Amazon,

and I found another today, which is winging its way through the British postal system as we speak.  I want to share some of these recipes with you to celebrate the traditional recipes of my lovely county.

The reason I found this fourth book is because I found the recipe for these mint cakes in the red and white book by Mary de Saulles, unfortunately the list of ingredients omits the sugar. So I found myself searching for the original recipe to find out how much sugar I should be using and I think it is in this book and I found the recipe online.

Whilst searching for this though, I found that a recipe for Shropshire Mint Cakes was published in an Australian newspaper on 24th April 1935.  How fantastic is that?  A Shropshire lass in search of a local recipe is assisted by a newspaper article published on the other side of the world 76 years ago.  The internet is a marvellous tool.

I couldn’t use this recipe either though because this one doesn’t seem to specify the amount of butter that you use.  The search has also revealed that like all recipes these little cakes can be adapted, one recipe uses currants but suggests that you could also use dried figs and the other recipe suggests the use of both currant and mixed peel. One recipe suggests that you make them by spreading the mixture over a square of pastry and topping with another square, cook, then slice into squares.  The other suggests that you make individual cakes.  I thought the latter would make for a neater cake, especially if my lack of dexterity became involved.

The Shropshire Mint Cake is a bit like the Eccles Cake, but with the addition of fresh mint.  You can really taste the mint and at first you think that these might be an acquired taste, but I can assure you that they soon become just that.  I had acquired a taste well before I was eating the fourth one in a row, warm from the oven (my well-known lack of willpower again!).

I urge you to give them a try.

For the pastry:

200g plain flour
100g butter, diced
1 tbsp caster sugar
enough cold water to mix

For the filling:
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
80g caster sugar
80g currants
50g softened butter
1 egg to glaze

Method

First of all place the chopped mint into a bowl and add 40g of the caster sugar and mix well. Leave to sit for at least an hour until the mint juices start to run.

Make the pastry by placing the flour and the diced butter in a bowl and rubbing the butter into the flour using the tips of your fingers, lifting your hands up high over the bowl to incorporate air. (I would use my food processor, but it broke and is at my Dad’s as he valiantly tries to repair it for me – thank goodness for Dads). When it looks like fine breadcrumbs, stir in the tablespoon of sugar and add enough water to make a smooth dough. Flatten the dough slightly into a disc and  wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for thirty minutes.

Place the currants, mint mixture, remaining sugar and the butter into a bowl and using a fork combine well.

Roll the pastry quite thinly and cut out discs using a scone/cookie cutter.  Place half of these discs onto two baking sheets. Then place teaspoonfuls of the currant mixture in the middle of the discs. I used a scone cutter that measures 6 cm and this made 24 little cakes.

Beat the egg with a fork and then brush a little of the egg all around the edge of the discs of pastry and place another disc on top, sealing well around the edge by pressing with your finger.  Brush the egg all over the tops and then place the baking trays in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or the middle/bottom of the roasting oven of the Aga for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Remove carefully onto a wire rack and leave to cool a little before you sample your first one.

 

 

 

 

Chocolate and Mint Arctic Roll

This is my entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge.  This month’s challenge is to make a swiss roll or roulade.  Well, you have already witnessed my roulade attempt for last week’s Sunday lunch.  Well, this was this week’s Sunday dessert.  My two girls have fallen in love with mint choc chip ice cream and I keep having to buy tubs from the supermarket to sate their appetite. I have wanted to make mint ice cream for a while.  The mint in our garden is in its prime, a month earlier than usual.  It is also rampant so finding another use for it is a big bonus.

I have always wondered how you got the mint flavour in there – do you infuse the cream or infuse a sugar syrup? (Obviously, if you are a commercial ice cream seller you use mint flavouring and you don’t go in for this infusing malarkey). I googled mint ice cream and found that you can infuse the cream or you can infuse a sugar syrup.  I decided to go with the former.

My first attempt was a disaster.  I decided that to get the green colour you probably needed to chop the leaves and the stalks.  I forgot that mint turns brown when bruised and the cream turned a mucky brown colour on top – not very appetising.

So, the second time round I removed the leaves from the stalks and discarded the stalks (the chickens loved them). I kept the leaves whole and infused them for an hour in the warm cream.  This seemed to work very well but the cream wasn’t very green.  So I thought I would puree the mint leaves and push them through a sieve with the cream again, risking that this may turn the cream brown.  Well, in actual fact I nearly turned the cream red (reminder to self – stick blenders are extremely sharp and will cut your fingers!). Fortunately, all blood was contained well away from the infused cream and I had no reason to tell my guests that we were having mint and strawberry ice cream, as suggested by my helpful neighbour.  I also still have my index finger and thumb intact, just about.

Anyway, as it turns out the infused cream did have a subtle green glow about it.

Not quite commercial mint choc chip green  but lovely anyway.  I was surprised by the taste, it is nothing like commercial mint ice cream.  It had a subtle mint taste with a slight earthiness about it.  I really enjoyed it. I don’t think the kids were as impressed though because it didn’t taste like what they are used to.

I could have just served it as it is but I still wanted to enter this month’s challenge, so I thought an arctic roll might just hit the spot.

I made a traditional swiss roll rather than a roulade.  The difference for me between the two is the flour used in a swiss roll.  If I was making it again I might use the roulade recipe as it is richer and not quite so dry as a swiss roll.  But this did roll better.  I borrowed my mum’s tin – the right size for the recipe, and rolled it straight away as it came out of the oven.  Then unrolled it to fill it with ice cream. No cracks!

Next time I will make the ice cream the day before to give it time to freeze properly and I might just take James Martin’s advice to freeze the ice cream in a plastic pipe as trying to roll it in greaseproof paper was messy and difficult.

For the Mint choc chip ice cream
600ml double cream
60g mint leaves
50g caster sugar
6 egg yolks
1 dsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate, chopped into chip sized pieces

For the swiss roll
3 eggs
75g caster sugar
50g plain flour
25g cocoa powder

Method
For the ice cream:

Pour the double cream into a saucepan and add the mint leaves.  Place the pan on a medium heat and bring up to almost boiling point.  Remove the pan from the heat and  leave to infuse for 1 hour.

Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla extract together until combined.  Sieve the cream into a jug and discard the mint leaves.  Pour the cream over the eggs and whisk well.  Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over a gentle heat, stirring all the time, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Allow to cool and then freeze in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions or pour into a plastic container and place in the freezer removing every half hour for two hours to beat the mixture and remove ice crystals.

I would then recommend sourcing a clean plastic pipe as James Martin advises and freezing the ice cream in this.  Otherwise, lay a piece of greaseproof paper on a worktop and spoon on the ice cream and roll up into a tube shape measuring 5cm x 30 cm.  I found this quite difficult because I had made my ice cream that day and it was melting as soon as I handled it.  So I would advise making the ice cream the day before to give it time to freeze properly.

For the swiss roll

Grease and line with greaseproof paper a shallow swiss roll tin measuring 33cm x 23cm.

Whisk together the eggs and the sugar in a large bowl until the whisk leaves a trail when lifted. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder together and fold very carefully into the mixture.  Spread this evenly onto the tin.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or with the grid shelf on the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga for 8 minutes until the sides are shrinking away from the tin.

Whilst the swiss roll is cooking, lay a piece of greaseproof paper, which is bigger than the swiss roll tray, on the worktop and dust with cocoa powder or sugar.

As soon as the swiss roll is removed from the oven carefully invert it into the greaseproof paper.  Peel away the paper that is on the bottom and, using the paper underneath to help you, roll into a swiss roll.  Place on a wire rack to cool.

When you are ready to serve, remove the roll of ice cream from the freezer, unroll the swiss roll.  Place the ice cream in the middle and re roll the swiss roll to cover.  Serve in slices.

Pea and cos salad

When Mr OC and I wed, we had a wonderful caterer who really put on a very fine spread.  Everything was delicious, but one of the things that really stood out from the rest was the wonderful pea and cos salad.  I have since tried to recreate this on many occasions and I admit that I don’t think I am quite there yet.  I think crème fraîche and parmesan were involved somewhere along the line.

However, the other day I saw a cos lettuce for sale and so bought it, but then promptly forgot to purchase either crème fraîche or parmesan ( I blame shopping with two small children for my terrible ability to go out for a pint of milk and return with a pot of basil and a piece of steak, but no milk, but I don’t really think they are to blame).  So I had a go with what I had in the fridge and the garden and although it doesn’t reach the sublime level of the salad of our wedding day it is really nice, especially with a good roast chicken or a slab of rare steak.

I will keep trying with my recreation of the original recipe, so you may well see another recipe for this appearing at some point in the future.  However, for now, here is a version.  If you do have some parmesan in the fridge then shave some over just before serving, and feel free to replace the yoghurt with crème fraîche.  I promise to try harder next time I go shopping.

1 head of cos lettuce, washed and dried
3 or 4 handfuls of frozen or fresh peas, boiled until tender (2 or 3 minutes in boiling water)

150g Total greek yoghurt
handful of fresh mint, chopped
juice of ½ lemon
salt and pepper

Method

Arrange the washed salad leaves on a platter and artfully pour over the peas.  Mix together the yoghurt, chopped mint and lemon juice and season to taste and dollop over the peas and lettuce.

Dig in and enjoy!

Tony’s tsatziki

tsatziki

This is a recipe from our good friend Tony, who on a recent visit to our house made us a delicious bowl of this tsatziki.  The recipe that follows is his and as he is of Greek Cypriot descent, I suppose it can be called authentic.  It’s lovely and we had some tonight with our roast chicken and baked pumpkin, both of which will follow in new posts soon.

1 long cucumber
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
500ml strained greek yoghurt
½ tsp salt
1½ tsps mint or dill, finely chopped
black pepper

Method
Peel the cucumber and halve lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Coarsely grate the cucumber and place in a sieve over a bowl and squeeze to get as much of the water out as possible (drink this cucumber water or save to add to vodka later).  Leave the grated cucumber in the sieve and sprinkle with salt so that more of the liquid drains out whilst you crush the garlic and chop the herbs. Squeeze the cucumber again and combine all of the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place in the fridge, the longer it sits in there the more garlicky the flavour will become.

Pea and mint risotto

pea and mint risotto

The adventures in the kitchen today included pea and mint risotto, which tasted very good.  The mint in the garden has flowered and is now shooting again and as a result tastes stronger than summer mint and really added a lovely fresh taste to the risotto. I served it with pork chops that I roast until almost done and then smother with wholegrain mustard and maple syrup and then finish off under the grill.

Generously serves two.

2 oz (50g)butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 oz (150g) frozen peas
200ml arborio rice
1 pint (570 ml) hot vegetable stock
good slug of white wine (or you could use the juice of half a lemon if you don’t happen to be drinking white wine whilst making dinner)
½ oz (10g) parmesan cheese, grated
handful fresh mint chopped

Method
Melt the butter in a frying pan over a low heat, add the garlic and the frozen peas and cook for two minutes.  Scrape out the peas and garlic into a bowl, keeping as much of the butter in the pan as you can, and keep to one side.  Put the pan back on the gentle heat. Add the rice to the remaining butter in the pan and stir for a minute to make sure that every grain of rice is covered in the buttery juices.  Add the wine and stir until the wine has evaporated away.  Now add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring as much as you can until you have pretty much used all of the stock (or you may need a touch more and if you do plain hot water is fine to add at this point) and the rice is cooked. Put the peas and garlic back into the pan and add the chopped mint and place back on the gentle heat to heat the peas through. Stir the parmesan through and serve.