Regular readers may know by now that I love a bit of hedgerow foraging, especially at this time of year. I used to love picking blackberries in Cornwall with my Grandma until my fingers (and probably my mouth) were stained blue and purple.
The same readers may also have picked up on the fact that I don’t just like my booze in a glass. I really enjoy incorporating it into my baking too, even more since I learned that you could use gin in pastry for light, crisp results. (https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/gin-and-lemon-tart/) The principles are the same with this, the booze will evaporate at a different temperature to the buttermilk and cream in the recipe, making the scones light and fluffy.
The bourbon and blackberries make these scones into a wonderful autumnal treat, just the thing when you’re pining for the cream teas of summer’s past. They’re ideal with a cup of tea after a day spent kicking your way through fallen leaves.
375g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
20g soft brown sugar
125g fresh ripe blackberries (smaller ones work better)
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 tsp Demerara sugar to decorate
Pre-heat your oven to 200°c and pop a large baking sheet in there.
Sift together the flour, raising agents and cinnamon so that they are well blended. Stir through the salt and sugar. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingertips. Once it looks a bit like breadcrumbs you can gently toss in the blackberries.
Combine the buttermilk, cream, bourbon and vanilla in a separate jug. Add this to the dry mixture, in two lots, stirring gently with a butter knife to bring it all together to form a soft dough.
Gently pat the dough out on a lightly floured surface so that it’s about 1/2″ thick. Stamp out the scones using a metal cutter with a sharp tap. Never twist your cutter when you’re making scones.
Carefully re-roll the dough as necessary but try to keep this to a minimum so that you don’t break up the fruit too much.
Take the tray out of the oven and very carefully grease it (I use a spray) before placing the scones on it, spaced a little way apart. Brush the tops with a little extra buttermilk and then sprinkle each one with a bit of Demerara sugar to give it a crunchy top. Bake them for 15-18 minutes, until they have risen and become golden brown.
Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool a little before serving with some cool creamy butter or a generous dollop of clotted cream.
Cornbread has become increasing popular in the Colonial Cravings household of late. But we’re not content to settle for standard, plain old, run-of-the-mill, common or garden varieties here. No, we like to (and actively encourage you to) play with our food here.
So this one got a makeover with the help of some jammy, sweet, roasted mini tomatoes and savoury fresh thyme. And it was scrummy! It’s like a savoury upside-down cake (secretly we all want cake for dinner) with fluffy, moist cornbread and lots of concentrated sweet tomato flavour.
makes 10 slices
185g ish of small tomatoes
handful of thyme sprigs
85g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
3 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for roasting the tomatoes)
Pre-heat your oven to 220°c.
Cut the tomatoes in half and toss them with the thyme in a little olive oil, salt and pepper in whichever tin you want to bake your cornbread in. Pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes (depending on how big they are) until they start to become soft and nicely roasted.
In a decent sized mixing bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients, so that they are really well combined and there are no lumps.
In another bowl or jug whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and olive oil. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in about half of the wet mixture. Stir it together so that it is loosely combined and then incorporate the rest of the liquid.
Use a spoon to gently arrange the tomatoes in the tin so that they will look pretty when you flip the corn bread over and then pour the batter evenly over them. Pop the tin back in the oven and bake it for about 20 minutes.
Allow the cornbread to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes, run a knife around the edge of it and place a serving plate over the top. Invert the plate and you should (hopefully) be able to lift off the tin to reveal the tomatoes. Serve whilst it’s still warm.
Coming from the UK I would never complain about the warm weather that we get in Maryland during the summer months. That said though, it does get ridiculously muggy at times. Seriously, the humidity some days makes it feel like we’re living in the tropics. Ice lollies, of all varieties, are one of the best ways to cut through this cloying stickiness. (Apart from maybe a chilly G&T!)
These make such a handy summer-time snack I should imagine that there’ll always be a few stashed in the freezer. They’re pretty low in fat (depending on the type of yogurt that you choose), are packed with calcium and let’s face it blueberries are pretty awesome for you too. It’s almost like you’re doing your body a favour by eating them!
I like these to be quite tart and tangy for maximum refreshment, but feel free to add more honey and sugar if you have a sweeter-tooth than me. If you are making them for kiddy-winks then they’ll almost certainly want them to be a touch less sharp.
makes 4-6 (depending on the size of your moulds)
300g Greek yogurt (any type)
2 tsp honey (more if you want it sweeter)
100g blueberries (I use part frozen and part fresh)
2 tsp sugar (again add more if you want them sweeter)
juice and zest of 1 lemon
splash of milk/cream (you might not need this)
Combine 80g of the blueberries with the lemon juice and sugar and gently heat them until they become thick and syrupy. Just swirl the pan rather than stirring it so that you don’t beak up the fruit too much. Leave this to cool.
Whisk together the yogurt, lemon zest and honey until they are well combined. If it seems a touch too thick to easily fill the lolly moulds then add a splash of milk/cream too.
Toss the reserved, uncooked fruit into the blueberry compote and then swirl it into the yogurt mixture to give it a nice marbled look. Spoon or pour this into the moulds, leaving a little room in each to allow for it to expand as it freezes. Give each of the moulds a bit of a shake or tap to get ride of any air bubbles too. Freeze until solid.
Once they are frozen solid I unmould them and store them, wrapped in cling film, in a tupperware tub so that I can free-up my ice lolly moulds for other frozen treats.
This is such a quick and easy dip to make, it doesn’t really warrant a recipe. You can adjust the taste to suit yourself by increasing, or decreasing the amount of chili that you use. You are also quite welcome to leave in the seeds if you are particularly hardcore about that sort of thing. I’m a bit of a wuss so I deseeded mine.
The other great thing about it is that you literally just sling everything into a food processor and whizz it all together. Easy peasy! No real measuring. No fuss. Done!
serves about 4
1 small pot fat free Greek yoghurt (about 200g ish)
1-2 jalapeno peppers
small bunch of fresh coriander
1-2 sprigs of fresh mint
1/8 tsp ground cumin (or just a big pinch will do)
squeeze of lime juice
Wash and dry the herbs and remove any stalks that may be a bit too thick or woody. De-seed the chili if you like. Put all the ingredients in a food processor (a small one is fine) and whizz the whole lot up until it is all well combined and the chili and herbs are very finely chopped so that the dip is quite smooth. That’s it, you’re done. Told you it was easy.
Do you ever make something and then think “Why haven’t I been making this all my life…?”
Well that’s how I feel about these.
The bread is so deliciously soft and fluffy and the fillings are rich and flavourful and so easy to tailor to your own tastes. Absolutely yummy both hot and cold, these are just great for picnics or parties, they’re so perfectly portable and shareable (although once you’ve tasted them you might not want to share them).
They’re basically the same as my savoury Chelsea buns but with a lot more going on inside. The only other slight change that I made was to switch the butter in the dough to olive oil, just for flavour really.
You can fill these with pretty much anything you like. I avoid anything that will make the buns soggy though like fresh mozzarella or large tomatoes. You do need to cut the fillings into fairly small pieces so that you can roll the buns up easily. Pesto (any variety) makes a really nice base if you want something a bit different.
makes about 16
230g strong white bread flour
7g yeast (1 sachet)
1 tsp sugar
big pinch of salt
1 tbsp olive oil
125ml warm milk
3-4 tbsp tomato paste/pesto
handful of sliced cherry tomatoes
handful chopped olives
1 tbsp fresh chopped herbs
Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Using a separate bowl or jug, whisk together the warmed milk, oil and egg. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in about half of the liquid. Stir together using a butter knife. Gradually incorporate the remaining liquid (you may not need all of it) until you have a soft dough. Pop the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for about five minutes. It should lose any stickiness that it might have had and become soft, smooth and springy.
Wash and dry your mixing bowl to make it nice and warm and lightly oil it. Put the dough in the bowl and cover it with a piece of oiled cling film. Put the dough in a nice warm spot and leave it to rise until it has doubled in size, this should take about an hour.
Once the dough is ready carefully lift it out of the bowl and knead it for a minute or two. Oil your work surface, or a large chopping board and roll out the dough into a rectangle. Try to persuade it to be as big as possible so that you can maximise your surface area. You need to have the long edge of the rectangle facing you.
Spread the entire surface (right up to the edges) with the tomato puree or pesto and then evenly scatter on your other chosen fillings, finishing with the cheese.
Roll the dough up, starting with the edge nearest you and rolling it away. Cut the roll of dough into even-sized pieces, I usually make mine about an inch wide, and arrange them in a greased cake tin. Cover this again with cling film and put it back in its warm place to rise for a second time. Whilst this happens you can pre-heat your oven to 190°c.
Once this second rise is complete, uncover the tin and bake the buns for 30 minutes. They should be wonderfully golden brown once they are baked and they’ll smell delicious. Leave them to cool in the tin on a wire rack for five minutes before turning them out.
Do you like rice or cornbread with your chili? I can never decide which I prefer. Brown rice with lime and coriander is always pretty tasty but Mr Colonial Cravings likes being able to mop-up the last bits of chili with his cornbread. I aim to please so cornbread won the debate for our most recent chili-fest (fiesta?)
This recipe makes quite moist and fluffy cornbread with a delicious crust. The honey and paprika are a great combination and the perfect accompaniment for richly flavoured chili. Yummy! It’s got a bit more fat and sugar than the apple sauce cornbread that I’ve made previously (https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/apple-sauce-corn-bread/) but it does taste a little more indulgent because of it so it makes a nice occasional treat. Plus I tend to serve it with vegetarian chili so I like to think that I’m saving myself some of the fat there!
makes 10 pieces
85g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp sweet paprika
pinch each of salt and pepper
about 1/4 of a medium white onion
about 4 tbsp sweetcorn (canned or frozen & thawed)
35g butter (melted)
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
Pre-heat the oven to 220°c and lightly grease a 8-9″ cake tin. Whisk together the flour, corn meal, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, pepper and paprika in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Roughly dice the onion and whizz it up in a food processor along with the sweetcorn until it is mushy but not totally pureed.
Whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, egg, honey and sweetcorn mixture in a separate bowl or jug.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir together a few times so that it is just combined. Don’t over-mix it or it will become tough rather than tender.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake it for around 25 minutes, until it has risen and is golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before serving warm.