Sunday, 18 March 2012

Busy, busy day

Today was Mother's Day, Hazel Hurdle course on the allotment and the Grand Prix highlights too!

AND I had friends coming for tea and a delivery to make of an important person's (7th birthday) present.

Very little time to cook, so I started the night before by cooking an apple cake that would heat up today to make us a pudding. Then I sent a slice over for Mom ;)

Apple Cake ( a very easy cake )

225g self raising flour
1 teaspoon salt
100g butter (can be straight from the fridge)
500g peeled weight of cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces
100g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
26g brown sugar ( I use demerera, but soft brown will do)

Grease an 8" round or square cake tin. Preheat the oven to gas 6 (200C/400F)
Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour. Mix in the apple pieces, caster sugar and eggs. Turn into the cake tin and level the top as best you can. Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar over the top and bake for 30 to 40 mins until nicely brown on top. Let the cake shrink in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely, or eat warm.

It's great on it's own. It's great with custard or you could serve it with cream or ice cream. If you want it next day as we did, it reheats at gas 3 for 20 mins.


The day was as busy as I'd anticipated, so between returning from the allotment, with a gash in my thumb (careless!) all plastered up and sporting a rather fetching blue plastic glove, and taking the grandson's birthday present, I made tea and put it on to bake. We had Tuna Pasta Bake. If you don't like tuna, it will still work if you just leave it out, or substitute chopped ham, mushrooms or chorizo.

Tuna Pasta Bake (Serves 4 hungry people)

9 oz dried pasta tubes such as penne
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 pint pasta sauce, either tinned from a jar, or as I had, frozen from last summer.
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tins tuna in oil or water (NOT brine), drained and broken up a bit.
400g grated cheese

Put plenty of water into a large saucepan with the salt and bring to the boil. Put in the pasta, stir until boiling again, then cook for 10 mins. Drain the pasta and put into a large mixing bowl. Add the pasta sauce, chopped tomatoes and tuna and stir well to combine. Turn into an ovenproof dish and scatter the cheese all over.
Bake in the centre of a preheated oven, gas 3, for about an hour, or until the cheese is all melted and bubbly.
Serve with a green vegetable of some sort. We had freshly picked broccoli - again! (I know, but I like the stuff!)

Next summer. try making your own  ....

Pasta Sauce

For this you need to grow your own tomatoes for preference, or bag some from a neighbour / relative / friend. Cut all your tomatoes in half across the waist and put into a large HEAVY based roasting tin, cut side up. You can also use other veg like courgettes, pepper, onions and aubergines cut into similar sized pieces.
When the tin is completely full, tuck branches of herbs into the spaces, garlic too if you like, not peeled (or it will just burn) and drizzle over some good olive oil. Put into a fairly hot oven and roast until the tomatoes are looking singed around the edges.
Allow to cool slightly then either push it through a sieve (laborious, but worth it) or liquidise it, then sieve it.
The thick paste you get is full of flavour and better than you will ever taste out of a jar. Freeze in 1/2 pint portions or use fresh.

I am lucky enough to possess a Mouli  which I got from Lidl a couple of years ago. This implement is used for straining foods, mostly for babies to eat, but it sorts out my tomato sauces in no time.

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