The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Easy recipe for Yorkshire puddings – the puffiest in the world

Posted in Basics, Vegetables and Sides, Vegetarian | 13 comments

Easy recipe for Yorkshire puddings – the puffiest in the world

I’ve always been rather proud of my Yorkshire puddings. But this recipe new puts my usual offerings totally in the shade. These puds puff up, keep their shape and are 100% guaranteed to be a success. I was given this recipe by a checkout lady at Tesco many months ago. It is such an easy, no fuss recipe that I didn’t even bother to write down the measurements of ingredients. This weekend I decided to finally test it out. I put the trays into the oven to heat up. It’s well known that the secret of great Yorkshire puds is to have the fat or...

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How to make dried breadcrumbs and a few recipes that use them

Posted in Basics | 6 comments

How to make dried breadcrumbs and a few recipes that use them

90% of people throw out the ingredient for homemade dried breadcrumbs every week. I mean of course stale bread. White bread is best for breadcrumbs and if you include the crusts you will get a good colour in the crumbs. The bread needs to be dried in a warm place for several days before being turned into breadcrumbs. My mum used to have an oven with a slim drawer at the base to store roasting pans and so on – she used to pop hers in there. I put my bread to dry under the grill/broiler pan. We use our grill to make toast in the morning so the...

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How to make the best chicken stock in your slow cooker

Posted in Basics | 25 comments

How to make the best chicken stock in your slow cooker

I’d written my post for tonight. Budget, delicious chicken risotto for 62p per portion when I realised that the main ingredient – the chicken stock hadn’t been blogged. A horse without the cart is no good for anyone who is travelling in foodie country. So here’s the cart. This stock works with cooked chicken bones or a fresh carcass. The latter makes better stock, I think. If you remember to remove the chicken when it is cooked (1-1.5 hours depending on size) you will have perfectly poached chicken to add to a multitude of other...

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Is it better to soak dried beans overnight or use the ‘quick soak’ method?

Posted in Basics | 33 comments

Is it better to soak dried beans overnight or use the ‘quick soak’ method?

I found some half price braising steak and parsnips on offer at the weekend. Both were tossed into my trolley along with a chunky bag of carrots and a can of Guinness. It’s the perfect weather for a beef in Guinness stew. As I was chopping the vegetables Danny piped up. “Do you know what would be really great with this dish. Some butter beans and the flageolets that were in the Pheasant and Venison Casserole à La Beastley. They were so tasty and packed with flavour.” A year ago Danny would never have dreamt that beans could be good in...

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The mayonnaise obsession

Posted in Basics, Sauces Gravy Dressings | 14 comments

The mayonnaise obsession

It started last year. I sampled some homemade mayo at a client’s house. I was making a chicken salad lunch for a golf widower. Their homemade mayo was stunning. Light, tasty and sublime. He liked it too. The next week it was the same menu with a pivotal difference. “It will have to be the bottled stuff, Fiona. It’s in the door of the fridge.” I discovered that it was Hellmann’s, full fat. I could tell from his plate he wasn’t so keen on this one. Since then the thought of that first homemade mayo has stayed...

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Best stuffing recipe for chicken, turkey or game: Pork, cider soaked raisins and pine nuts

Posted in Basics, Chicken | 5 comments

Best stuffing recipe for chicken, turkey or game: Pork, cider soaked raisins and pine nuts

The Chicken Out Campaign is working. Masses of people are avoiding the cheap intensively farmed supermarket chickens and visiting their local butchers to find free range birds. When I went in to see Fred Fitzpatrick (Exning Road, Newmarket – now retired) on Saturday I had a small chicken on my shopping list. “I’m sorry Fiona but we’ve sold out of those.” “How about a medium one?” “All gone.” “Have you got any chickens at all?” “Maybe.” A small chicken from Fred is...

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Make your own homemade Greek style yoghurt without tears

Posted in Basics | 31 comments

Make your own homemade Greek style yoghurt without tears

Poor Danny got ticked off by the Tightwad Queen for dolloping too much Greek yoghurt on his chick pea cakes last week. TTQ wanted to use the rest of the pot for another meal. The Greek yoghurt that we like is expensive. I hate being scratchy about money. Would far rather work a longer day and be lavish but the 2008 budget challenge has me checking outgoings like a deranged accountant. I decided that I’d put the rationed yoghurt topping in a bowl on the table rather than plonking the carton beside D, next time. I only had myself to...

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Sherry vinegar, beware

Posted in Basics | 5 comments

Sherry vinegar, beware

Many years ago, when I wasn’t into cooking, I invited my best client and his wife for a weekend in the country. This was one of those invitations that you suggest to a very busy person after a very long lunch. To my horror he jumped at it. We both enjoyed good Soho food. Perhaps he assumed that as I savoured good food, I must be a great cook. Wrong. I was living in a high speed world where one just ate out. Apart from these forays it was sandwiches in the week and steak when I came home for the weekends. Light years from where I am now....

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