Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Limoncello, another cookbook used!

In my continuing quest to use my cookbook collection properly I finally tried a recipe from Gifts from the Kitchen.  I bought this book before Christmas a couple of years ago, with the intention of making gifts for family and friends. As usual my health had other ideas, and whilst I've read all the recipes, I never managed to actually make one. However, with Christmas coming again, I decided to try out the limoncello recipe. I doubled the amount tho, so that if it's any good I can keep a bottle for us!

It's a very simple  procedure, you peal a dozen lemons of their rind and then boil that and the juice of the lemons in a sugar syrup for a quarter of an hour.
Many lemons
Naked lemons!
The juicing of the lemons was made infinitely easier by our marvelous gadget which we call the lemon inverter, as basically you pop half a lemon in the press and squeeze the two halves together and ta-da, one inside out lemon half and all the juice in the pan. It helps having a strong husband on hand as well!
As you boil the syrup it gradually darkens to a lovely rich orange. Once it's simmered for 15 minutes or so you decant it into a Kilner jar, or other sterilised sealable vessel and add a large amount of vodka. You then leave it alone to mature for a month or so and hopefully it will taste delicious when we try it out.  I'll let you know how it turns out...
A lot of potential Limoncello :-)

Monday, November 02, 2015

Toffee nut slices and a disaster possibly averted!!

So, in my attempt to start using my cook bools properly I decided to start with one of my least used purchases- Peyton and Byrne's British Baking.  It's a beautifully illustrated edition and contains a selection of recipes from tea breads to classic British puddings, and its purple my favorite colour so of course I got sucked in by amazon and bought it at least three years ago! (It's still available at amazon here).  And I'm afraid I've only ever used one recipe for Lemon Possett, and that works really well, so I had high hopes for the Toffee Nut Slices recipe.  The recipe combines two of my favorite things- nuts and toffee (obviously!).

See how gorgeous the illustrations are.  You start the slices by making a fairly basic buiscuit base from butteer sugar and flour. This was one of my problems with this recipe, I used the exact tin specified and I ended up with a very thick base, much more so that pictured, I personally wold prefer a thinner base. so next time I will reduce the biscuit amount.  But that's just a little nigggle!

You start by toasting the nuts on the oven, watching them like a hawk as they can go from toasted to chared in a very short time! This also makes your kitchen smell amazing...
Once they are toasted and cool you rub them gently between your hands to remove any remaining skin- a surpriing amount of it comes off and would have not have enhanced the end result.
Once you've done the nuts you start on the toffee.  Now, as always be very careful when dealing with boiling sugar as it's very, very hot and easy to burn yourself! Also, it's wise to have any things that will be added to the sugar, in this case butter and cream, measured and ready to add, as trying to faff with scales whilst your toffee burns is not a happy thing! I had another problem here in that the amount of water used to dissolve the sugar is really small and as my sugar just about to burn a crisp, I added a couple of tablespoons of extra boiling water to get it to melt properly.  In all my other cookbooks that deal with toffee making, there is always more water in the recipe for a similar amount of sugar, so I would have some boiling water on had just in case your sugar starts to catch rather than melt.  Practicing making toffee is going to be something I need to do to avoid burnt sugar!

This recipe does not use a sugar thermometer to make the toffe, but instead relies on you judging the colour of the toffee-living dangerously or what!  And this is where disaster struck...  Whilst trying to take an action shot of stirring the toffee, I dropped my Iphone into the saucepan of boiling toffee...! I am blaming this on the fact that I am taking steroids at the moment so am rather jittery... that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  Fortunately Mr EB was there to help me fish it out and saved the day my cleaning it up and somehow neither of us got scalded by the hot sugar!  Even more Amazing is the fact that the phone still works!!! Totally gobsmacked by that!!

So after the little toffee apple  diversion, I added the nuts to the toffee and spread it onto the cooled biscuit base, and then bunged it in the oven for its final bake.
Once cooled, you chop it into slices and attempt not to eat all of it in one go.  It's a really moreish, but very sweet treat.  I will definitely be trying this recipe again, despite one or two little niggles with the recipe, it produces excellent results, I'll also be trying more P&B recipes to see if they are consistently this good.  One cookbook almost properly used!