Best Bran Muffins
(makes 12 large muffins, or 16-18 small ones)
Preheat oven to 415 F, or 215C, or middle shelf in lower oven of AGA
1 and 1/2 cup of All Bran Cereal
1 cup of milk
1/4 cup of margarine or trex
1/2 cup of light brown sugar
1/4 cup of treacle or fancy molasses
1 and 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
3/4 tsp of salt
1 cup of regular flour
Soak All Bran in milk for 15 minutes. Leave aside. Separately, cream together margarine and sugar. Then add the treacle/molasses, eggs and milk. Mix well until smooth. Now add all the dry ingredients. Mix quickly. Finally, pour in the All Bran mixture and mix. If you wish, you can add 1/2 cup of raisins (or chopped prunes) at this point to posh up the muffins!
Using a large spoon, spoon mixture equally into a large 12 muffin tin. I use muffin liners, but if you have none handy, you will need to grease the pan with butter so the muffins don't stick.
Shove them in the oven, middle shelf for 15-20 minutes.
Never Fail Fudge
3 cups of light brown sugar
1/2 cup of milk
3/4 cup of butter or alternative such as margarine Dash of salt
Mix and boil this for exactly FIVE minutes. Not a rolling boil, but a good steady boil. Remove from heat and with an electric mixer quickly add and mix in:
2 cups of icing sugar
1/2 cup of regular flour
1 tsp of flavouring (vanilla, maple, rum whatever)
Beat for one minute then using a spatula, pour into a 8in x 8in greased square pan. The mixture will thicken quickly so you have to move fast once the flour has been added. As an option you can also add 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or coconut. Before it gets too cool, mark with a knife for portions.
There are a million different and complicated recipes for brownies. This one, used for years by a neighbouring family in Nova Scotia is the simplest and the best brownie recipe of any I have tried. The mixture looks a little too sloppy but don't panic, it works.
Grease a 8in x 8in pan. Set oven to 350F or 175C, or middle shelf of over oven in AGA.
1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of butter
3/4 cup of plain flour
6 tablespoons of cocoa
Dash of salt
1/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup of cold black tea
1 cup of walnut pieces (optional)
Cream together the sugar, butter and eggs. Mix well. Then add the cocoa and flour alternately with the tea and milk. Add nuts at the end. Mix and pour into greased square pan. Bake for 25 mins. Cool and if you wish to frost, mix 4 tablespoons of melted butter, 4 tablespoons of cocoa. Then add 3-4 tablespoons of warm milk and one teaspoon of vanilla. Mix and then gradually add 11/2 cups of icing sugar. Beat for 8-10mins until smooth. Frost the cooled brownies evenly.
We have a fruit cage in the garden so we eat plenty of soft fruit during the season and we freeze even more for ice cream, crumbles and other desserts. Our daughter Annabel makes regular milkshakes and here is her recipe:
1/2 pint of milk (skim milk is best as it froths much better than whole milk)
3/4 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries
Handful of ice cubes
2 teaspoons of sugar
Mix in blender at high speed until the ice is crushed. Any fruit can be used, including a banana, in which case we always add some vanilla flavouring.
Nova Scotia Chowder
My family in Canada ate gallons and gallons of chowder when I was growing up. It is the perfect winter soup on a freezing day. There are lots of variations on the basic chowder recipe including just plain fish, or clams, or lobster, or even when nothing else was available, just a can of tuna or salmon dumped in to give a fishy flavour. It all works. So here goes:
5 slices of chopped streaky bacon or 3oz of bacon bits
1/2 chopped onion, medium sized
2 cups of diced potatoes
1/2 teaspoon of salt, dash of pepper
1/2 cup of water
1 lb (450g) of lean fish (cubed) or seafood, or 400g can of clams including water
3 cups of milk
3 tablespoons of parsley
Optional - also add one 410g can of Carnation evaporated milk
Fry bacon until brown on medium heat.. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Do not burn them or you will have dark specks in your chowder. Now, add potatoes and water and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low heat until potatoes are just beginning to soften. About five minutes. Add fish (or can of clams) and cook for another 10-12 minutes when everything should be tender but not mushy. Add milk and warm up but do not boil or it will stick on the bottom. I always also add a can of Carnation evaporated milk because it enriches the flavour. Garnish with parsley. Another trick for this recipe is to add 'fishy water' instead of plain water. My mother would make 'fishy water" by boiling bits of leftover fish like heads and tails, or even crab or lobster shells in water, then strain it. The flavour will be remarkable.
Peanut Butter Cookies
I make these in my sleep. Over the years I have baked thousands.
Preheat oven to 350F or 175C, or middle shelf of lower oven in AGA. Lightly grease two cookie sheets.
1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of shortening or trex
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups of plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 tablespoons of hot water
1 cup of peanut butter, preferably smooth
Mix in order given. Roll into balls the size of a large walnut and place on cookie sheet 3 inches apart. Press down each ball lightly with a fork. Do not flatten them. Bake in oven for 12 -14 minutes. Allow to cool. Cookies should be quite pale when you take them out of oven but they will harden and darken as they cool. Serve with a very tall, very cold glass of milk!
Have you ever had unexpected guests and nothing much in the fridge to serve them? Have you ever run out of time or could not find the inspiration to cook much for dinner? If so, this is the lifesaver for you. For a decent sauce for chicken/pheasant/turkey breasts, cook your meat for 6-8 people, them place cooked meat in a deep-ish casserole dish.
To make the sauce, whip one pint of double cream until firm. Fold in 3 tablespoons of Worcester sauce and 3 tablespoons of mango chutney. Spoon sauce over the meat and cook in 190c or 375f oven for 20 minutes. It is genius. Serve with rice.