All-American Chocolate Cookies.

American Chocolate Cookies with peanut butter.

Ingredients to makes about 12 cookies

300g good quality plain chocolate
optional-add 100g milk chocolate
100g light muscovado sugar
85g butter, at room temperature
100g crunchy peanut butter
1 medium egg
half a teaspoon vanilla extract
100g self-raising flour
 

Method

1. Heat the oven to 180C/fan or gas mark 4
2. Chop 200g of the plain chocolate into a bowl. Melt in the microwave on medium power for about one or two minutes.
3. Stir the chocolate until completely melted then tip in the sugar, butter, peanut butter, egg and vanilla. Beat until well mixed then stir in the self-raising flour
4. The mixture will feel quite soft and drop easily from the spoon when shaken.
5. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto paper lined baking sheets leaving room for the cookies to spread.
6. Sprinkle the remaining broken bits of chocolate onto the top of the cookies.
7. Bake for about 10 to 12 mins until the cookies are darker around the edges. They will be softer in the middle and crunchy on the outside. Cook for a few minutes longer for a crisper cookie.
8. Leave the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about five minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
 

They will keep for about 4 or 5 days in an airtight tin.
 

Enjoy, they are very yummy.
 
 

Event:-the Daglan Spring Flower Festival will be held on the 17th March.
 
 

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Preserved Tomatoes.

A couple of weeks ago we were given tomatoes by two of our friends who grow their own fruit and vegetables. Tomatoes straight from the vine smell and taste so good. So for a Winter treat I thought that I would try preserve tomatoes. Having never preserved tomatoes before I was a little apprehensive, but I can honestly say that it was quick, easy, no problem at all. So if you grow you own tomatoes or get then fresh from a farmers market buy 2kg and try it out. The taste is fabulous, much better than tinned tomatoes.

Makes 6 Jars

Time: 45 minutes, plus sterilising and cooling.

You will need:- 6 clean glass jars with lids and about 2kg of ripe tomatoes. Plus a little drizzle of olive oil.

1. Wash the tomatoes, then remove the stalks. Depending on the size of the jars, either halve or quarter the tomatoes.

2. Then start to fill the jars, intermittently adding a leaf of fresh basil. Pressing the tomatoes down with the back of a wooden spoon so that they are tightly packed.

The bulk of the preserved tomatoes were made using the above method but I also made a few the jars with slices of fresh chilli for Paul.

3. Now, make extra sure that the jars are full and packed tightly so that there are no air gaps, add a drizzle of olive oil on top. Then seal each jar tightly.

4. Submerge each jar in a large pan of gently boiling water. Then boil for about thirty minutes. To slightly cook the tomatoes and sterilise the jars.

5. Turn the heat off and leave to cool overnight in the pan of water.

These should keep for about three or four months in a cool, dark place. Once opened, keep them in the fridge and use within a week.

Trust me once you have tasted the tomatoes, they will not last for very long.

The taste of Summer for the Winter months, if you can store them that long.

They can be used in sauces, stew, casserole, chilli, pasta dishes etc.
 
 

Events:-

Organ Concert in Sarlat on the 1st September at 11am.

Flea Market in Vitrac 16th September.

15th and 16th September at Castlenaud, Tournament of Medieval Fencing.
 
 

Lavender and Blackberry Ice Cream.

This is a gorgeous creamy ice cream full of the lavender aroma and taste. With the crunch of the blackberries. We were told that lavender ice cream is delicious from Hayley and Paul who came to visit us a few weeks ago. So I gave it a try and yes I totally agree with them. Thank you this ice cream is a winner and I shall make it more than once over the Summer period.

No-churn creamy, lavender and fresh blackberry ice cream.

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk
1 tbsp dried lavender buds
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
400g sweetened condensed milk
half a cup of mashed fresh blackberries

Instructions

1 Begin by creating the lavender infusion. Warm the milk over a moderate-low heat in a small saucepan until the milk is just beginning to simmer. Lower the heat to low, add the dried lavender buds and let the buds rest in the milk for about five minutes. Pour this mixture into a small bowel and cover with cling film and refrigerate for about an hour.

2 In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the heavy whipping cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla extract, then continue to whisk until stiffer peaks form. Only a second or two.

3 Gently fold the condensed milk into the cream using a plastic spatula.

4 Strain the lavender using a sieve, tossing away the lavender buds, leaving the infused milk to be used. Add this to the whipped cream/condensed milk. Then add the mashed blackberries. Gently combine.

5 Pour the mixture into a plastic container and/or small ramekins, cover with a lid or cling film and freezer for about four hours.

Should last for about three months.

 
 

Forgotten Vegetables

Shorter days and chilly nights call for soups made from root vegetables. While there has been a growing move towards seasonal vegetables in England, the French markets and supermarkets have been much better at presenting their customers with seasonal foods.

As the leaves begin to fall from the trees we have noticed some strangely shaped and oddly coloured vegetables appear on our local market stalls.

To me, some of these root vegetables look like a new variety but no, they have been cultivated for centuries when seasonality was imposed onto people rather than offered as a choice. Then they were forgotten when the move for more exotic vegetables and all year round availability became the norm. As always the French have a wonderful name for these vegetables, légumes oubliés (forgotten vegetables).

At first sight Paul and I were unsure if the purple, sometimes black carrot and the yellow carrots were actually carrots. So we bought some to try from a organic produce seller in St Cyprian market and decided they were delicious.

The purple and yellow carrots taste more peppery, than their classic counterparts, peel them roast them, place them into casseroles or soups the flavour is outstanding.

All ready to make a hearty soup so here is the recipe.
 

Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Serves about four people

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 medium size carrots, cut and diced
4 sticks celery, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 potato, diced
small turnip cut into small chunks
50g mushrooms
125g dried green lentils
1 litre of vegetable stock

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and cook gently for about five minutes.
Then add all of the other vegetables, stir for about five minutes. Add the lentils, stock and bring to the boil and then simmer for about one and a half hours until the lentils are tender.

Serve as it is with chunks of fresh bread or you could grate a strong cheese over the top, either way delicious.

It freezes well too.

A hearty soup for a Autumn or Winters day.
 
 

Local News- Maison Carré Patisserie at Castlenaud will be closed from the 23rd October to the 5th November.

 
 

Gâteau au Chocolate.

I made this as our New Year treat. However, I did point out to Paul that this was my first attempt at making this gâteau so it may not turn out right, in fact he may not see it at all. I’m glad to say the gâteau did cook perfectly it looked and tasted good and tasted a lot lighter than I expected for a dense chocolate gâteau.

Gâteau au Chocolate

Ingredients:

150g (5oz) caster sugar, plus some for sprinkling.
275g (10oz) plain chocolate, chopped, try and use the most expensive chocolate at about 70%.
175g (6oz) unsalted butter cut into pieces.
10ml (2tsp) vanilla essence or 3tsp walnut liqueur.
5 eggs – separated.
40g (2oz) plain flour, sifted with a pinch of salt.

Optional, I also used 50g chopped walnuts.

Icing sugar for dusting.

Sweetened whipped cream for serving.

Preparation:

1 Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Generously butter a 24cm/9 or 10in spring base tin, then sprinkle the tin with a little sugar and tap out the excess.

2 Set aside 45ml/3 tbsp of sugar. Place the chocolate, butter and remaining sugar in a heavy saucepan and cook over a low heat until the chocolate and butter have melted and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla essence or walnut liqueur and leave the mixture to cool slightly.

3 Beat the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture, then add the flour (and walnuts if you are using them).

4 In a mixer beat the egg whites slowly until frothy. Increase the speed, add the salt and continue beating until soft peaks form. Sprinkle the reserved sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Beat one third of the whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.

5 Carefully pour the mixture into the tin and tap the tin gently to release any air bubbles.

6 Bake the gâteau for about thirty five to forty five minutes until well risen and the top springs back when touched lightly with a fingertip. If the gâteau appears to rise unevenly, rotate after about the first twenty minutes of cooking. Transfer the cake to a wire rack, remove the sides of the tin and leave to cool. Remove the tin base, dust the cake with icing sugar and transfer to a serving plate.

Serve with whipped cream.

Bon Appetit.