Welcome To Wild Cottage

Recipes, wild food for free, natural cures & remedies, organic gardening, Irish music, gluten free recipes, social eating and thoughts on life in general

Friday, 19 September 2014

Apple & Blackberry Crumble (incl Gluten Free Option)

We adore apple crumbles, and at this time of the year both newly fallen apples and blackberries are available and plentiful - at least they are here in Ireland.

Fresh apples and blackberries, prepared for a crumble


Today I used apples that had fallen from our apple tree yesterday. We just have 2 apple trees, one is a very old cooking apple (the tree is at least 70 years old), and the other is a 12 year old 'Russet' (a traditional old fashioned small English eating apple, which tastes slightly nutty).

This recipe for apple crumble can be used with either gluten free flours, such as Dove Farm's gluten free plain flour, or normal wheat plain flour.  I make the gluten free option, as I am gluten intolerant.  Whichever type you use, the result is pretty similar, as the butter is there to bind the flour and sugar together.

Today I added a large handful of blackberries to the sliced up apples.  This not only adds a very yummy taste, but alters the colour to a gorgeous dark pink, depending on how many blackberries you use.  

I also love cinnamon in the fruit part of an apple crumble - but this is easily left out if you aren't into cinnamon.  I add flour to the apples as this gives the juice a slightly thicker, syrupy consistency, which is heavenly.

Anyway, here is the recipe I used today - This makes a medium sized crumble which is plenty for two people, including copious seconds !

Blackberry and Apple Crumble

(with both gluten free and standard flour options)

Ingredients

Crumble mix:
6 ozs  plain flour (or 6 ozs gluten free plain flour - I used Doves)
4 ozs  butter
5 ozs  caster sugar

Apple and blackberry mix:
8 medium apples
2 tablespoons blackberries
1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaped tablespoon caster sugar
1 flat tablespoon plain flour (or same amount of plain gluten free flour)
lemon juice from half a lemon

Method

Apple mix:
1.  Put the lemon juice into a large mixing bowl.  Peel, core and evenly slice the apples, removing any bruised or damaged bits.  As you are slicing them, put them into the lemon juice, mixing with a wooden spoon to cover them.  This helps to prevent the apples going brown, as well as adding to the taste.

Cooking apples and blackberries, covered in lemon juice

2.  Into the bowl with the apples, add the cinnamon, sugar and flour.  Mix this around, gently, until the apple slices are all covered fairly evenly.

3.  Put the apple mixture into a high sided, ovenproof, pie dish - I use Pyrex casserole dishes.

4.  Sprinkle the blackberries evenly across the top of the apples.  Cover the dish with a cloth, or a lid if you have it.

*** Preheat the oven to 175C, which is about 350F

Crumble mix:
5.  Put the flour and butter into a large mixing bowl,  making sure that the butter is in no more than 1/2 inch lumps.

6.  Using your fingertips, 'rub' the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.

7.  Mix the sugar into the crumble mix, gently.

Gluten free dry crumble mix, ready to sprinkle on top of the fruit


Putting it together:
8.  Spoon the crumble mix evenly on top of the apples which are already in the ovenproof dish.

9.  Place the dish into the centre of the preheated oven.  Cook for 35-45 minutes (the crumble is best when just turning a light brown, but you may prefer it darker or lighter).

10.  Serve hot from the oven, with warm custard.  Also great cold the next day with cream !

This crumble recipe will also freeze extremely well for up to 4 or 5 months.  Alternatively, you can freeze the sliced apples covered in lemon juice in a bag, and the washed blackberries in another bag, for future use.

Also, why not make double the dry crumble mix, pop half into a plastic bag or container, and freeze it !!  Remember to label what is gluten free what what isn't !

Friday, 12 September 2014

Elderberry Recipes & Remedies

If you are looking for various Elderberry recipes to experiment with, look no further than Wild Cottage.

Elderberry & clove cordial  (also similar recipe here Elderberry cordial )

Blackberry & elderberry jelly

Elderberry wine

Elder bush remedies

Elderberry & ginger cold and flu remedy/cure all

The magic of elderberries

I'd love to know if you have any unusual elderberry recipes please.

I am adding new recipes all the time - please visit again.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Elderberry & Ginger Winter Remedy Recipe

(The recipe is at the bottom of the text)

Storing quantities of this 'Elderberry & Ginger Winter Remedy' for when required, should be a staple of all natural health loving households.

Elderberries have long been known by wise old women to be an excellent natural all round medicine (probably a few wise old men too).  This is something I was born and raised with, and still continue to practise today.

I found several ideas for a medicinal version of the popular elderberry cordial, but they all contained sugar and none contained ginger.  So I ended up concocting this recipe, which embodies everything I consider good for combating colds, pesky sore throats, bacterial and viral infections, as well as creating something you can take daily to help combat cholesterol, improve your vision, as a diuretic, boost your immune system, help with allergies, as an antioxidant, and much more.  Elderberries are also slightly laxative in nature, and so will help regulate a sluggish bowel, in a very gentle way.

In Chinese medicine they is used to treat rheumatism and bodily injuries.

Some studies have also begun to indicate that Elderberries have a role to play in combating cancer and some other immune diseases - the anthocyanins help to rebuild damaged cells, as well as protect them via the immune system.

It's a new take on the old saying about an apple a day, "A spoonful a day keeps the doctor away" (sorry apples).  But this is something I have done for years throughout the winter.

The compounds found in Elderberries are many, and include vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B, amino acids, tannin, rutin, carotenooids, flavonoids (anthocyanins), viburnic acid, and a lot more.

Elderberry & Ginger Winter Remedy Recipe


Ingredients

(The exact quantities are not important, but are more guidelines)

2 lb Elderberries - measured when de-stalked so just the clean berries remain

3 teacups Water

3 teacups Honey

Organic whole Lemon

2 inch piece fresh root Ginger


Directions

1.     Put the clean berries into a stainless steel saucepan, add the water. 

2.     Add the juice of the lemon to the berries, and the peel also.  Making sure to NOT include the 'pith', which is the bitter white layer beneath the peel/skin and before the actual lemon segments.  It is important that the lemon is organic, as non-organic lemons have wax and other nasty chemicals on the skins.

3.     Chop the fresh ginger root into small bits, and add them to the berry mix also.

4.     Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for about 50 minutes.  Keep the lid on the saucepan, so as not to loose any of the precious juice by condensation and evaporation.  If it looks like the water is too low, add another cup.

5.     Turn off the heat and mash the berries with a potato masher, until as much juice as possible is extracted from the berries.

6.     Strain the juice and mashed berries through a muslin cloth, or another suitable fine meshed fruit/wine making strainer.  Return the liquid to a clean saucepan.  The remaining squished berries, lemon bits and ginger are great on the compost heap, given to chickens, or maybe the birds would enjoy them.

7.     Add the honey to the mixture in the saucepan.

8.     Turn the heat back on, slowly bringing the mixture to the boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Again, keep the lid on the saucepan so as not to loose any of the liquid.

9.     While still hot, pour into sterilised bottles and screw the lids on immediately.  Tip each bottle upside down for a couple of minutes to ensure complete sterilisation of the lids etc.

This will keep for at least a year, maybe more.  But obviously, making fresh batches each year is best, as you will then have fresh berries each year.



Please note:  The above recipe is recommended as an aid to good health, combating a cold, sore throats, coughs and the flu.  It is in no way intended to be medical advice - if you are at all worried, see your doctor.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Seedless Blackberry Jam

The perfect blackberry jam - seedless, no pips and smooth !  

However, it isn't quite a jelly as you use a setting point to create a spreadable jam, rather than leaving it a bit longer and creating a jelly that sets and wobbles.  If you would like to make jelly, just let it boil a bit longer until your setting point test tells you that it's at 'wobble point'.

This is the ultimate taste of Autumn, and if you make enough of the jam, you can have it all year round.

I adore normal blackberry jam, but I also love smooth jams, as they have that extra special, melt in the mouth sensation...  Although not as good as Galaxy chocolate !


Seedless Blackberry Jam Recipe


Ingredients

6 lb / 2.75 kg  Blackberries
1/4 pint Water
2 Lemons
6 lb / 2.75 kg  Sugar - roughly



Method

1.   Put the cleaned fruit, the water, the lemon rind and lemon juice into a large jam making pan.


2.  Using a potato masher, mash the blackberry mix well, to extract the juice.

3.   For every pound (lb) of blackberries, use 1 lb of white sugar (0.5 kg).  Put the sugar into the pan and stir in thoroughly.  Leave it, well covered to keep tiny winged critters out, for a couple of hours, until the sugar has drawn the juice from the blackberries, and you have much more liquid that when you started.

4.   Simmer gently until the fruit is soft, not too long or it will start to boil and begin to thicken.  Don't let it boil at this point.  You may need to stir it to check for, and prevent, sticking and burning on the bottom of the pan.  Keep the pan lid ON, to prevent any loss of your precious juice via evaporation.


5.   Pour the now sweet mushy fruit mix through a small holed sieve, (or through muslin cloth for extremely smooth).  Return the pip free, seed free, skin free juice to the saucepan (make sure it's cleaned from earlier to remove any stray seeds, insect body parts, bat wings and so on).

6.   Turn the heat up (but not on full) and boil rapidly until setting point is reached. (I use the cold plate in the fridge setting point method).  Remember to remove the pan from the heat each time you do the setting point test, otherwise the test won't be accurate and you'll have a much thicker jam than you maybe intended.

7.   Once setting point has been reached, remove from the heat and skim off any foam etc.


8.   While the jam is still very hot, pour it into sterilised jam pots.  Put the (also sterilised) lids on straight away while the jam is still very hot.  This is so that, when the jam cools and contracts, it will take up less space in the jar.  The shrinkage will create a vacuum at the top of the jar, between the jam and the lid.  This will help to keep the jam long term, as bacteria cannot live in a vacuum (no air, nothing).
Just remember to NOT tip the jars at all, so that you keep the vacuum below any remaining air.


This will make around 8 or 9 jars of jam, depending on jar size.  Well made jam can last for years, and this should be fine for at least 2 years.  Jam tends to thicken with age, but the taste can improve sometimes.


This recipe is excellent for making early Christmas presents, or a gift for a friend.  It's not everyday you can use one recipe to make both blackberry jam and blackberry jelly.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Irish Soda Bread (Gluten Free & Standard) Recipe


Around 18 months ago I decided, for medical reasons, to change to a gluten free diet.  However, I was unprepared for the expense and the total lack of quality and taste in the ready made products.


Naturally, being a cooking from scratch addict, I have been making my own gluten free food, but had been struggling with finding or creating a really nice gluten free Irish soda bread recipe, that doesn't fall apart when you look at it.

But miracles do happen, and yesterday I made a delicious Irish soda cake/bread, which stayed in one piece when I cut it !  It even looks real !
Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread - fresh from the oven
Irish Soda Bread Recipe

includes instructions for both gluten free and normal options

Ingredients

(I made this bread using American 'cups', which do make for a quick and easy measuring method !  This was because I used 3 recipes from various places, to base my recipe on, all of which were in US cups)

2 cups     Doves Farm gluten free plain flour  (or ordinary plain flour if you are                     not gluten free)
3 tblsp    Butter
1 cup       Buttermilk
2 tblsp    Buttermilk - extra  (exchange this for 1 med free range egg for a richer                     loaf)
1/4 cup   Caster sugar
1/4 cup   Xanthan gum - gluten free  (omit if you aren't using gluten free flour)
1/4 tsp    Sea salt
1 tsp         Baking powder - gluten free  (normal if you aren't gluten free)
1 1/2 tsp  Baking soda

Method

1.    Pre-heat the oven to 200C or 400F.

2.   Flour the base of a cookie sheet, or similar flat baking sheet or tray.

3.   Put the flour (gluten free or otherwise) in to a mixing bowl, then add the xanthan gum, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Stir it to mix all these dry ingredients evenly.

4.   Using an electric mixer with the cake beaters (not the bread/dough hooks), mix the butter and sugar together, until it is light and fluffy (probably at least a couple of mins).  This can also be done by hand in a mixing bowl.

5.   Gradually add the flour mixture, a bit at a time, whilst adding small amounts of buttermilk at the same time. Mix well in between the adding of the mix.  Use all the flour mix and all the buttermilk, including the extra 2 tablespoons.
If you would like an extra rich Irish soda bread / cake, then exchange the 2 extra tablespoons of buttermilk for a medium free range beaten egg.  Add it in to the mixture the same way as the buttermilk, with the flour mix.

6.   Sprinkle a small amount of extra flour onto a clean work surface.

7.   Lift the bread mixture carefully from the bowl, trying to keep it in one lump or 'ball'.  Place in onto the floured work surface.

8.   Knead the bread just a few times, maybe 5 or 6, certainly no more.  Do this very gently.

9.   Shape the bread dough in to a circle shape, then pat it down gently to around 1.5 inches high (that's about 4cm).

10.  Using a floured knife, cut a cross into the top of the bread, going about half an inch deep.  This allows it to 'open up' and cook in the centre evenly.  And it looks cute !

11.  Place the baking sheet with the uncooked loaf into the middle of the pre heated oven.  

12.  Cook at 200C (400F) for 6 or 7 mins and then reduce the oven temperature to 175C (350F) for a further 25 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when tapped.

13.  Allow to cool before slicing, otherwise the slices will crumble and break.  Once cool, my loaf when sliced didn't crumble or break at all, which is a miracle for gluten free bread of any kind !

14.  The loaf I made is pictured above.  It kept really well for about 2 days, at which point I had eaten it all.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Elderberry Cordial (with Cloves) - Recipe 1

I have decided to conduct an experiment.  I intend to make several different batches of Elderberry Cordial this year, using different recipe ideas.

I'll post each recipe as I make it, and then add the 'taste test' results at the bottom of each post (as well as a summary Post when I run out of berries).  I'll also add information about the preservation qualities of each recipe batch as the winter progresses.

This cordial, when combined with water, is the perfect winter pick-me-up drink, and is also an excellent cold and flu preventative and remedy.  It is full of vitamins, especially vitamin C, plus antioxidants and much more.

One last thing - this makes a great Christmas gift, especially if part of a homemade gift box.


Elderberry & Clove Cordial   -  Recipe 1

Elderberries (cut the whole flower/berry heads from the bush )
Sugar
Cloves

1. Pick the elderberries on a dry day.  Remove the berries from the stalks by 'combing' them off with a fork. Make sure all insects and mouldy berries are discarded.

2. Stew the berries in a large covered stainless steel saucepan, with just enough water to cover the berries. This will take about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, but keep covered so as not to allow the juice to evaporate.

3. Strain it all through muslin, squeezing to get all the juice out.

4. To each pint of juice add 1 lb of white granulated sugar and 10 cloves.

5. Boil for 10 minutes.

6. Allow the liquid to cool.

7. Bottle the cordial in sterile bottles with good quality plastic screw-on tops, making sure you distribute the cloves evenly amongst the bottles (they act as a preservative). You can use recycled drink bottles and mini wine bottles are brilliant.

The cordial can be used immediately, but will also keep well for a year or two.

*TASTE TEST*

This recipe has a really festive aroma and taste, mainly due to the cloves.  The resulting drink, once watered down, is especially nice served hot.

Taken with hot water it is renowned as a guard against colds, and a glass a day through winter is a wise precaution...


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Music Is What Feelings Sound Like

Music is what feelings sound like...

This is why I love to write song lyrics for film and tv.
I can make the listener feel what I am feeling, or what I want them to feel...  deep down inside themselves where it is real, for a moment, where it brings back a memory or a feeling or a thought, and makes it real again for a minute or two...
Well I try !