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When it comes to pasta bakes, I’m usually pretty unadventurous – favouring a simple tomato sauce and lumps of fresh mozzarella or the grated version.  Cooked until the cheese top is golden and crisp.

Last night I decided we needed a bit of a shake up.  Still featuring lots of cheese, of course, I made a cheesy broccoli pasta bake.  So simple, and yet it tasted nicer than I thought it would.

Heat your oven up to about 180 – 200°C.  Cut the broccoli up into bite-sized pieces.  Pop a pan of water onto boil and add your pasta. 

You want to just undercook the pasta (it carries on cooking in the oven), and add the broccoli for the last few minutes to cook a little.  Drain the pasta and the broccoli. 

While the pasta is cooking, make a cheese sauce.  I use equal amounts of butter and flour to make a roux, then add hot milk a bit at a time, and stir like mad with a whisk to keep it smooth.  Bring to the boil and keep whisking – this was my job when I was growing up. 

Add lots of grated mature Cheddar to the sauce and stir in until melted.  Pour the cheese sauce over the drained pasta and broccoli and mix together. 

Put the whole lot into an ovenproof dish, sprinkle over an extra bit of grated cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.

I would pop this firmly in the category of ‘Comfort Food’.  Good for cold wintery nights or when you’re feeling low.  This is food that hugs you.

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Sweetcorn fritters are part of my childhood memories.  When I was younger my neighbour’s house was always full of lots of kids and she would often feed us all – sweetcorn fritters, simply made and cooked quickly on her Aga were what I remember her making us.

The making and cooking of them is just one of those childhood memories that will always stick with me, all us kids crowded round a big wooden table digging in to the hot fritters as they came off the stove.  So with sweetcorn season upon us this is what we had for dinner.

With a new but delicious recipe from the Riverford Farm Cookbook we dug into a plateful of hot fritters with a green salad, hot radish sprouts and a simple tomato salsa.  The fritter batter contained polenta and flecks of fresh (and homegrown I might add!) red chilli and fresh herbs from the garden.

No Aga in sight, I used one of my favourite cast iron enamel frying pans and they crisped up to a gorgeous golden brown.

That’s what I’m asking myself this morning.  And no, that’s not a typo, I really do have a kilo of clotted cream.  Why, you ask?  Well, last night the company I work for held a stakeholder meeting in a local community and as part of dinner we served them delicious mini chocolate cakes with strawberries and a dollop of clotted cream.

With open community meetings you never know how many people are going to turn up, even if you tell people they must RSVP.  So we usually end up with some leftovers which are divided up amongst the team.  I came home with two ice cream tubs full of fresh strawberries…and a kilo of clotted cream.

I’ve truly never seen so much clotted cream in one tub – it makes your heart stop just to look at it!  Sadly it’s not the deep golden yellow coloured cream of my childhood holidays in Devon, with that gorgeous crust that forms (my favourite part).  But none-the-less it’s clotted cream and I need to dream up how to use it.

Ice cream is my leading idea at the moment.  Primarily because it means Mr Rigg and I don’t have to get through a kilo of clotted cream before it goes off!  And also because I’d like a new challenge and haven’t made ice cream before.

Perhaps I might make raspberry and clotted cream ice cream – billed as a ‘sophisticated version of raspberry ripple’.  Or maybe I’ll just make a simple clotted cream ice cream to go with lemon and saffron cake which evokes childhood memories of saffron buns eaten in Devon on my granny’s terrace.

I could even save a little clotted cream to eat as it is, with strawberries and rose petals in a dainty sandwich

The choices!

I remember drinking Robinson’s Barley Water squash as a child, so it is lovely to discover that this derives from an old-school drink.  This recipe is care of Rose Prince’s New English Kitchen, although I used some of my leftover sugar syrup from my homemade lemonade rather than sugar to sweeten.

Homemade Orange Barley Water

225g approx. pearl barley
2.5 litres water
6 oranges
2 lemons
sugar to taste (or sugar syrup)

Wash the barley well before putting it in a saucepan and covering with the water.

Bring to the boil, then lower to a gentle simmer and cook for up to an hour or until the barley is tender. (Note – I think I let mine cook too long and ended up with less leftover liquid than I think I should have).

Strain the barley over a dish to catch the barley water.  You can keep the cooked barley to use in another dish.  Leave the liquid to cool.

While the barley water is cooling, zest 3 of the oranges and 1 lemon.  Juice all of the fruit. 

When the barley water is cool stir in the zest and juice.  Add sugar or sugar syrup to taste – Rose Prince says it should not be too sweet.

Now I decided to strain the liquid to remove the zest – I let it sit a while first – as we didn’t fancy ‘bits’ in our barley water.  It was also unclear from the recipe whether you should dilute the barley water, so we did to taste.

Rose Prince says it will keep for a day or two in the fridge – ours didn’t last out the day, it was too delicious and refreshing!

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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