Mars Hot Chocolate

11 Mars Hot Chocolate

What could be better for a chocoholic than a thick and creamy hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day? Two hot chocolates perhaps? This one is a recipe I have had in mind for some time, but it has been so hot and dry this last month that it hardly seemed appropriate. I was even thinking that I would have to leave it until next winter!

I can’t recall a single drop of rain falling here in March, but with the arrival of April it started to rain. As they say here, “En abril, aguas mil” (In April thousands of showers).

14 Wsiteria and rain.jpeg

A few months ago I saw with interest a recipe for hot chocolate that had the addition of shop-bought caramel sauce. Other recipes and cafés pop a marshmallow or two onto the top of a hot chocolate…… so I thought why not just use a Mars bar instead, killing as it were “dos pájaros de un tiro” (two birds with one stone).

 

To read the rest of the article and to view the recipe please click here.

 


2019 Lincoln W. Betteridge

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Cauliflower, Cheese and Smoked Bacon Tart

48 Cauliflower, Cheese and Smoked Bacon Tart

So let’s start this week’s article with the why….. why a recipe for cauliflower, cheese and smoked bacon tart. Quite simple really, we had a couple of pieces over the weekend. They were actually out of the freezer, as I had made it some weeks ago from our home-grown winter cauliflowers. We had been putting the finishing touches to our new flat and, although it has a fitted kitchen, we decided to save time and microwave a slice or two of tart back to life!

The new flat is looking quite good, but it took us a while to find the right one. This meant that the furniture from the previous house had to be put into storage. Getting it actually out of storage, and to the new flat, was quite an experience……..

 

To read the rest of the article and to view the recipe please click here.

 


2019 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Madeira Cake

20 Madeira Cake

Some people are too dismissive of the unknown or the different. Quite a few years ago, and in a different area in Spain, I presented our local baker with some Madeira cake. Expecting thanks if not praise for my delicious cake, I was most surprised when he broke off a piece, stated categorically that I had used too few eggs, and didn’t even deign to taste it. Of course the texture of the madeira cake is very different from the typical Spanish sponge cake, but that doesn’t mean it is in any way inferior. He obviously wasn’t familiar with the texture of the cake, but of course varying the proportions of the ingredients in the batter can easily change the flavour and texture of the finished cake.

So changing the quantities of the basic ingredients can significantly change the finished product, but how big a factor is the oven temperature?

If it isn’t obvious from the recipes I have published recently, over the last few weeks I have done quite a bit of cooking on our wood fired stove. I always have several pans on the go, but I don’t always fully use the oven. The oven is always on, as it is heated by the same fire that heats the hob. It seems such a shame therefore not to use it too. Under normal circumstances, with a medium, steady fire, the oven heats up to around 145ºC, a little cool to make cakes perhaps? Nevertheless I decided to try out some of my favourite cake recipes.

21 Oven 1

Cakes are generally baked at around 180ºC, so what are the consequences of cooking at a lower temperature?

 

To read the rest of the article and to view the reciple please click here.

 


2019 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Ox Cheeks Braised in Red Wine

25 Ox Cheeks Braised in Red Wine

I spent a few years of my youth studying Mechanical and Production Engineering at what was then Preston Polytechnic. It later transformed into the far grander sounding University of Central Lancashire, also known as the more upmarket “uclan”. I guess that unless you have an acronym to your name you are a nobody in today’s modern world!

I understand that the name is not the only thing that has changed and, as in all Universities in England, students now have to pay large fees to study. Not only did I not pay fees, but I was paid a small salary, a grant, to actually study. There were about a dozen students in my year,  around six were funded by the government whilst the remainder were overseas students, that had in fact paid in full for the privilege of being there.

I hear much these days about initiatives to help underprivileged or poorer students study, yet the answer to me seems so simple. As in the past, the government should consider further education an investment in the future wellbeing of the country, and give full grants to students. These grants should be based on ability, so a would-be student would just need a brain, and not a positive bank balance!

Studying in a group of around twelve fellow students has a number of learning advantages, it also allows a bond, in some cases even a friendship to form, between the lecturer and the student. I guess that was why we decided that to celebrate our graduation, we should all go out for a meal together, students and lecturers.

The question arose as to how to split the costs, we may have liked our lecturers but we certainly weren’t going to pay for them!

 

To see the recipe and to read the rest of the article please click here.

 


2019 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Moroccan Rice

19 Moroccan Rice

Rant alert….. because  today finds me in a bad mood, pencil pushers completely out of touch with reality have struck again…….

We live just off a main road that runs between the two sizeable towns of Cariñena and La Almunia. Much of the traffic is actually heavy goods, as wagons cut across from the motorways around Bilbao and Santander heading for the motorways around Valencia and Alicante. The road has three junctions, none initially particularly bad, including the one to our village. The road has, or should I say had, a limit of 100 Km/hr.

A few months back they put a reduced speed limit on the three junctions. For no obvious reason, our exit onto the main road was changed from a give-way to a stop sign. The other two remained unchanged.

Many of the cars, and most of the wagons, take no notice of the reduced speed limit. Now of course with us having to stop at the junction, it makes it far more dangerous for us to exit, given that we now have to accelerate from zero. They did put a speed camera on the road, but unbelievably just outside the reduced speed limit around the junction. I don’t need to tell you that in its current position it serves little purpose and was a waste of time and money!

99 La Almunia

La Almunia de Doña Godina

Across Spain they have just reduced the limit on this, and all similar roads, to 90 km/hr. One of the main reasons was to reduce the speeding problem. I am astounded that they think this will make any difference in stopping people speeding………….

 

To read the rest of the article and to view the recipe please click here.

 


2019 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Wild Mushrooms on Toast

12 Wild Mushrooms on Toast

As I sit here, fingers poised over the keyboard, I can here the sound of not so distant drums. Is it the sound of one of the local religious brotherhoods preparing for the Easter drum festivals you might ask?…… no, it is just some kids banging on an old oil drum that they have purloined from somewhere or other.

I can see them quite clearly from here, as our house is perched somewhat on high. They have broken some large branches off the nearby pines and are enthusiastically beating the drum to death, displaying their youthful strength in an animalistic furore. Having just watched an Attenborough documentary on alpha-male Chimpanzee behaviour, I must say that the similarities were strikingly obvious.

Vying for dominance may have been all well and good when as a species we were fighting for survival, but in today’s domesticated society it is doing more harm than good. There are few if any new frontiers to be tamed or lands to be colonised. We have already covered the globe, sacking the planet to consume or exploit its resources. We are now like a large swarm of locusts with nowhere to go……

 

To read the rest of the article and to view the recipe please click here.

 


2019 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Sun-Dried Tomato Bread

00 Sun-Dried Tomato Bread

A few months back my “Kenwood Gourmet Food Processor de Luxe” finally bit the dust! After more than 30 years of faithful service, the motor has actually spun its last. In spite of it coming to me second-hand, it had always served me well. It had all manner of slicing and shredding plates, an ice cream maker blade, whisk and a beater. It also had a steel multipurpose blade, which was in fact the only attachment I ever really used.

99 Kenwood machine

Last week a neighbour came by, on her way back from the village bar, where she had picked up a delivery of two cookery books. (Some transport companies have taken to delivering packages to the local bar, rather than to the recipients’ actual house. One of the “joys” of living in a small village!) The books were for her Thermomix® machine, those all-in-one culinary marvels that are so indispensable in today’s modern kitchens.

99 Thermomix-Image

Since I was a kid I have asked for tools for Christmas and birthdays. Initially it was screwdrivers or spanners to fix my bicycles and then the car………

 

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2019 Lincoln W. Betteridge