Kasknocken or Spaetzle or Spätzli

Inspired by the sight of the Hairy Bikers devouring this in a hut in Austria, we hunted down some recipes on the internet and came up with the Penguin version, which tends to be known as “spaetzle”, possibly because this name is more evocative of deliciousness than the Austrian “kasknocken” which we first heard about.

300g plain flour
2 eggs
125ml water
125ml milk
70g butter
250g or as much as you think of cheese
1 onion
1 clove garlic
3 rashers of bacon (optional)
2-3 carrots

Mix the flour, eggs and liquid to form a batter.
Scrape the batter through a colander into a pan of simmering water and cook for about 3 minutes or until cooked. Do this is 2 or 3 goes, to avoid the spaetzle all sticking together. Strain out and drain.
Melt the butter in a pan. Add the dumplings, season with salt, pepper and herbes de Provence, and stir in the cheese.
In a separate pan, fry the onion and garlic until soft and golden, adding the bacon.
Mix the onion, etc. into the dumplings. Add chopped cooked carrot and leave to brown on the bottom of the pan. This is a vital stage – the browned bit is the best part. It even has a special name in Austrian: “Prinzn”!

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Homemade pizza

When you’ve got mozzarella that needs using up and you want something to cheer you up at the end of the first rainy day in months, pizza is the way to go.
We pretty much used the BBC Good Food recipe (words are mine).

300g strong bread flour
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

For each pizza:
100ml passata
handful fresh basil or 1 tsp dried
1 garlic clove , crushed

125g ball mozzarella , sliced

The Making Of
First make the base:
In a large bowl place the flour, yeast and salt.
Pour in 200ml warm water and the olive oil and combine with a wooden spoon your favourite pink silicone spoontula.
Knead for 5 minutes and then leave aside (if you need to go to the supermarket, this is the time to let your dough rise!).

Then ask a penguin to make the sauce by combining the passata, fresh basil and garlic.
Preheat the oven to 240C and put a baking sheet in the top of the oven to heat up.
If the dough’s been rising, knead it briefly and split into two balls.
Roll/stretch them out.

Top the pizza with sauce and shredded mozzarella and bake for 10 minutes. Repeat.

Pictures will arrive later, courtesy of Penguin Photography.

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Making caramel

While I track down the many photos that I’ve been saving up for posts, here’s a post from last year that got left as a draft. It’s still true, and the recipe works (though I’m not sure where I found it, apologies).

I used to be able to find caramel in tins ready-to-use at the supermarket. For the last couple of years, however, I’ve been unable to find it, despite searching high and low and hearing repeated reports of other people’s successful purchases. It appears that it’s only me who can’t buy caramel! I did once try the “boil for 4 hours watching it every second in case of explosions”, but that’s time-consuming….

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Pour the condensed milk into 9 inch baking dish and cover with foil. Place the baking dish in a larger shallow pan, filled with about 1/2 inch of hot water.
Bake for 1 hour or until thick and caramel-colored. Carefully remove from oven; remove the baking dish from the shallow pan. Whisk the caramel until smooth. Cool for 20 minutes before serving. Store any leftover caramel in the fridge.

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Pancakes for penguins

“Shall we have pancakes for breakfast?” “Yes, let’s!” And what could be better at halftime of the Wales-South Africa World Cup match than tasty American pancakes?

There was an article recently (I believe in the Guardian magazine, but it might have been the Waitrose Food mag) about whether one should have recipe books or just use online recipes. This morning was an online moment – we wanted pancakes, we wanted American pancakes (or it would’ve been Be-Ro book as usual) and with a few key-stabs, the trusty BBC had a recipe for ‘Fluffy American Pancakes’.
I doubled their recipe to make us 4 pancakes each – just right!

270g/9½oz plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp caster sugar
260ml/9fl oz milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tbsp olive oil or melted butter (allowed to cool slightly)

Place flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl.
Whisk the milk and egg in a separate jug, then whisk in the olive oil.
Pour the milk mixture into the flour and beat with a fork into a smooth batter.
Set aside while the frying pan heats up.

Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add some butter.
When the butter had melted, pour in 2 ladles of batter.
When the tops of the pancakes begin to bubble, flip it and cook until golden brown and risen to around 1cm thick.
Stack with butter sprinkled with brown sugar between each pancake.
Serve with raspberries.

These could have done with maple syrup, but they were very tasty all the same. The raspberries were delicious. Made up for Wales just missing out, 16-17.

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Quick and easy

The only real cooking in this was the tomato sauce, made with fresh cherry tomatoes and basil. Simple but tasty.

And proof that the beloved tomato tart works just as well with normal-sized tomatoes

Not pictured: Toad in the hole. Mmm.

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River Cottage every day bread

I wasn’t entirely sure, but having seen Hugh F-W make this bread on TV, I followed the recipe pretty exactly, though the sachets of yeast I had were only 7 grams, not the 10g that the recipe states.
After a false start, which was followed by me dashing out to buy salt, it all came together quite well.

And a lovely summer-y supper resulted. We didn’t wait for the loaves to cool. At the time of writing, it’s been slicing nicely for lunches and the Penguin took some for his own lunch preparations rather than buying bread from a shop. I rather fear that this may have to become a weekly activity….

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Torta di pomodori and parmesan crisps

    Torta di pomodori

This is a recipe from Mama’s Italian Cookbook, which I modified very slightly. Tomato-flavoured pastry is definitely the way forward.

2tbsp butter
1tbsp caster sugar (Demerara works too, but watch out that you don’t overcook it and get lumps of toffee like I did the first time)
500g/ 1lb 2oz / 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large clove garlic
salt and pepper

250g / 9oz plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tbsp tomato puree
140g / 5oz butter
5-6 tbsp cold water (not always needed, especially with pesto and margarine used)
1 tbsp pesto (Equally good without)

Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F/ Gas mark 6.
Make the pastry:
Place the flour, salt, tomato puree and butter in a bowl and rub into fine crumbs (or use a food processor).
If needed, add enough water to form a soft but not sticky dough.

In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter.
Add the sugar; stir over quite a high heat until just turning golden brown, then remove from the heat.
Quickly add the tomatoes and garlic, and season with oregano, salt and pepper. The original recipe adds 2 tsp white wine vinegar at this point.
Pour the tomatoes into a cake tin (depending how juicy your tomatoes are, a springform tin makes the tart much easier to over baking, but may leak).

Roll out the pastry and place over the tomatoes, tucking in the edges. Prick with a fork.
Bake for 30 minutes until firm and golden.
Leave for 2-3 minutes then turn out onto a plate.
Garnish with fresh basil.

Parmesan crisps
Just before we started making the tart for dinner, we were watching Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers. And we half-caught the parmesan crisps, which seemed a perfect accompaniment to tart. Somewhat fiddly, but quite fun.

Place spoonfuls of finely grated parmesan in a non-stick pan over a low heat and flatten with the back of a spoon (to look like a biscuit).
Cook gently so it melts and forms a little crust. Once the base is crisp, flip it over with a palette knife. Cook for another 1-2 minutes on the other side.

Spinach goes really nicely with this meal.

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Christmas cake

This recipe was taken straight from the egg-box lid that lives in the Family Recipe Folder. Interestingly, it turns out that I copied it into my own recipe book when I first went to university. Apparently I considered it vital to my university career. Five years later, the Penguin wanted fruitcake, so I dug out the recipe.

I didn’t make the almond paste from scratch though…. I had 80% of a packet of marzipan to use up. A full packet would be better. But the icing was loooovely (extra icing sugar was needed to get it to the right consistency though).
And how else would a Christmas cake for a penguin be decorated? Turns out that it’s very difficult to buy penguin Christmas cake decorations. But a Penguin Bowling kit makes all the difference.

This is all that’s left:

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Winter casserole with dumplings

1 butternut squash, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
(175ml white wine)
1 tin butterbeans, drained
400ml vegetable stock
2tbsp tomato puree

For the dumplings:
200g self- raising flour
100g vegetable suet
2tsp dried mixed herbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5-8tbsp cold water

Chop the butternut squash and swede and steam until soft.
Make the dumplings:
Place the flour in a mixing bowl.
Grate the cold butter coarsely into the flour.

Preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5
Season with salt, pepper. herbs.
Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add a splash enough cold water to bind it into dough.
Divide the dough into eight and roll into round dumplings.
Heat the oven to 180C.
Place the vegetables into a casserole dish.
Add the butter beans, tomato puree, garlic and enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables (400ml).
Stir well, bring to the boil on the hob, then cover and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
Carefully float the dumplings on the surface, then cook uncovered for 20 minutes until the dumplings are crispy and fluffy.


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Keeping it real (or How To Kill Lina)

Fish with curry sauce. Too spicy for me. It was a nice idea…..

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