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                                                                   FROM OUR COUNTRY KITCHEN
     For some time now, Pauline Austerfield has been publishing recipes in the Village Voices magazine, under the heading 'From Our Country Kitchen'.
     This is a chance to see them all.   They are shown below in date order - the most recent first.  

     Either click on the month of the recipe or scroll down to the one you require.   (Drawings by Pauline as well).

                                                                                                     2009 Recipes

                                                                                     December      Focaccia Bread    
                                                                                     November       French Onion Soup and Shallot Tart
                                                                                     October         Baking Potatoes
                                                                                     September     Damson Compote, Baked Figs, Blackberries and Apple
                                                                                     August          Summer Fruit Trifle        
                                                                                     July               Lettuce Soup 
                                                                                     June              Samphire
                                                                                     May               A Garden Salad (with Asparagus)
                                                                                     April               Vegetable Shepherd's Pie
                                                                                     March            Nettle Soup and Winter Carrots

       December 2009.   Focaccia Bread.
     This is very easy to make and is much nicer than the Focaccia you can buy.  
     It goes well with soup or salad and will freeze well (6 - 8 portions.)
               1 lb strong white bread flour
               1.5 tsp. salt
               1 pkt [7g] fast acting yeast
               3/4 pint lukewarm water 
               Coarse sea salt
               Thyme or rosemary leaves
               Olive oil. 
              12"x9" roasting tin.

1.   Put the flour, salt and yeast into a mixing bowl and slowly add the water,
      stirring with a palette knife.  You will end up with a sticky dough.  Turn it 
      out onto a floured board and using the palette knife knead it incorporating 
      extra flour, until it stops being so sticky and starts to resemble bread. 
      This should take about 5 minutes.
2.   Wash and dry the mixing bowl, lightly flour it and replace the dough.
      Cover with cling film and leave to rise for approx 40 minutes.
      If your kitchen is cold, place the bowl in a larger bowl with hot water in 
      the bottom.
3.   Lightly oil the baking tin and sprinkle with cornmeal, which will keep 
      the base crisp and prevent sticking.  Heat the oven to 240 c gas mark 8.
4.   Ease the dough out of the bowl into the tin, using a palette knife and 
      push it into the corners so it covers most of the tin.  Replace the cling film 
      and set aside for 20 minutes.
5.   With a floured finger, push several holes into the dough, scatter over the 
      herbs and sea salt.  Drizzle with olive oil. 
      Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until brown and crispy.  Cool slightly on a wire 
      rack and then ease out of the tin with a knife.  Serve warm.

      November  2009.    French Onion Soup and Shallot Tart.   Both recipes are for two persons.
    French Onion Soup
    This is a marvellous winter soup.  It takes rather a long time to make 
    but is worth the effort.

               1½ lbs onions, peeled, halved and finely sliced
               1 oz butter
               2 tbls olive oil
               1 tbls plain fl our
               1 pint beef stock
               1 small glass white wine
     Melt the butter in a heavy, lidded pan then add olive oil. 
     Tip in the onions, stir, cover and cook very slowly for 45 minutes.
     Check regularly and stir to avoid sticking.
     Add more oil/butter if necessary.
     The onions must not burn but hopefully will turn golden.
     When ready, sprinkle on the flour, stir and cook for a couple of minutes. 
     Add the white wine and the stock, stirring continually. 
     Cook for 15 minutes more.  Check the seasoning.
     Pour into bowls and top with cheese croutons (make cheese on toast 
     and cut into small squares).
   Shallot Tart  (adapted from a recipe in Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook). 
        6 oz shallots
               2 oz soft cheese - Brie or Camembert
               1 oz butter
               1 tbls olive oil
               1 dsts soft brown sugar
               Puff Pastry

    Preheat the oven to 200°C Gas Mk 6.
    Peel the shallots, removing the hard base. 
    Add them to a pan of boiling water and cook for 10 minutes.  Drain.
    Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the oil and then the sugar, allowing it 
    to dissolve.
    Tip in the shallots and cook gently until a rich golden caramel.
    Remove from the heat and arrange in a single layer in a pie dish.  
    Allow to cool slightly. 
    Roll out the pastry and cut to the correct size. 
    Slice the cheese and arrange on top of the shallots. 
    Lay the pastry on top, pressing it down around the edges.
    Make a couple of slits in the centre of the pastry. 
    Put in the oven and cook for 20 minutes or until the pastry is risen and golden. 
    Serve warm with a green salad.

    October 2009.    Baked Potatoes.

     The main crop varieties of potato which make the best baked potatoes are ready now.  Give the skin a good scrub, cut a slit along the top and cook in a 
     medium oven for 1 to 1.5 hours depending on size.  If the skin is scabby or damaged, peel the potato and then roll in a seasoned flour before baking.  
     This creates a lovely crispy skin. Once cooked they can of course be filled with anything you like, butter and sour cream being favourites.
In her Garden Cook Book, Sarah Raven has a brilliant recipe for stuffed baked potatoes with pesto which is definitely worth the effort.
For each baked potato you will need:
50 ml creme fraiche 1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1.5 oz grated cheese Salt and pepper
40ml pesto
Preheat oven to 180ºc, gas 4.
Score round the potato with a sharp knife and then bake until cooked. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Cut them in half, scoop out the potato and put into a bowl. Put the skins onto an oiled baking tray. Mash the potato flesh with the other ingredients and spoon back into the skins. Return to the oven and cook for another 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden. (If you don't have any pesto, finely chop some basil leaves and mix with grated parmesan, crushed garlic and olive oil to make a smooth paste).
If time is short try Australian potatoes. My mother used to make these and I have no idea why she called them this. Cut the scrubbed potatoes in half length wise. Dry the cut surface with kitchen paper and score with a knife in a criss-cross pattern.
Put them cut side up on an oiled baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and spread it over the surface. Sprinkle with salt. Bake in the usual way until the top is golden brown and they are cooked through.
When the weather turns cold and your tomatoes stop ripening outside, don't abandon them or turn them into chutney.
Cut off the bunches and tie them together with string so they hang one below another.
Suspend them from a hook in the kitchen and they will ripen over the next couple of months.

     September 2009.    Various Fruit Recipes.

         September is a good month for fruit – damsons, blackberries, apples and figs are at their best.
The following recipes were inspired by Nigel Slater's ‘Real fast puddings’. Damson compote. Remove the stalks from the fruit and put in a saucepan with a little water and some caster sugar. Cook very gently for approx 15 minutes until tender. Check for sweetness. If you have a low oven on, this can also be cooked in a covered dish in the oven but will take a little longer.
Baked Figs.
Cut the stems off the figs and cut out a deep cross into each fruit about half way down.
Place the figs (stem side up) in a baking dish and scatter them with brown sugar and sweet wine or marsala.
Bake in a moderate oven for approx. 1/2 hour.
Blackberries and apple make the best crumble. Add rolled oats to the crumble mixture for a
change and cook it in the oven until the juices of the fruit start to bubble up around the crumble.
Vanilla ice cream (home made) is delicious with all the above dishes.
It is a good idea when cooking fruit in the oven to put a roasting tray under the cooking dish in case the fruit boils over.

     August 2009.    Summer Fruit Trifle.
       This should be made the day before it is required.  Either fresh or frozen fruits can be used, and the mixture varied according to availability.
               1 lb mixed summer fruits - strawberries, black/red/white currants, raspberries, cherries plus a few extra for decoration.
               2 tbls cassis or sherry 
               1 large egg
               8 trifle sponges 
               8 oz (250gm) tub mascarpone cheese (available from Hollesley shop)
               2 tbls caster sugar 
               3 leaves gelatine (or sachets from Hollesley shop).
               ½ pt double cream (optional)
               1.  Put the currants and stoned cherries in a pan and heat slowly, stirring to prevent sticking, until the juices run.
               2.  Take off the heat and add the sliced strawberries, raspberries and I tbls caster sugar.   Mix well, then reserve 4 tbls of the juice.
               3.  Cut the gelatine leaves into pieces and soak in cold water in a bowl for 10 mins. 
                    Drain, add the warm fruit mixture and stir until dissolved. Pour into a bowl, cool and refrigerate for an hour.
               4.  Place the sponge fingers in a suitably sized dish (or 4 individual ones).  Mix the reserved juice with the cassis 
                    or sherry and pour over the sponge fingers. Spoon the fruit mixture onto the sponge fingers and level off.
               5.  Separate the eggs.  Beat the egg white until firm.
                    Whisk the egg yolk, mascarpone and remaining sugar together.  Fold the egg white into the mascarpone mixture. 
                    Spoon this on top of the fruit and level.
               6.  Cover dish (s) with cling film and put in fridge overnight.  Remove clingfilm and top with whipped double cream. 
                    Decorate with reserved berries and serve.
      (I prefer this without the cream topping but the recipe includes it).

  July 2009.   Lettuce Soup.

   However careful you are there is always a time when there is a glut of lettuce.  They will keep for days if immediately after picking.
   Just plunge them into cold water for 15 minutes, drain and then put in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag.  
   I have been trying recipes for lettuce soup, some of them more successful than others. 
   The following recipe has a fresh summer flavour and a beautiful green colour.  It also works well as a chilled soup.
               1 small onion, finely chopped
               1 tbls olive oil
               4 oz green lettuce, washed and roughly chopped
               2 oz young peas
               2 sprigs of mint, stem removed, leaves finely chopped
               ½ pint vegetable stock
               ½ cup milk
               Chopped chives and cream to garnish
    Gently heat the olive oil in a good sized pan and soften the onion, taking care not to let it brown. 
    Add the chopped lettuce and mint, briefly stir until wilted and then add the stock and the peas. 
    Bring to the boil, cook for a minute and take off the heat. 
    Cool slightly and then blitz in a liquidizer until smooth. 
    Check seasoning, return to the pan, add the milk and reheat.
    Garnish with chopped chives and a spoonful of cream. 
    You can always freeze this for future use.

June 2009. Samphire.
    Samphire grows on the mud flats in the Deben and Butley rivers.  It is very tasty, full of vitamins, good for the digestion, 
    and free.  I usually pick it, trying not to pull up the roots, in June and July as it tends to go stringy later in the year. 

    It is very easy to cook – just give it a good rinse, pick off any brown bits and drop it into a pan of boiling unsalted water. 

    Bring the water back to the boil and cook for one minute. Take off the heat and drain into a sieve. 

It is quite delicious as it is but you can add butter or olive oil if you wish. I usually serve it with fish, but if you add some new peas or broad beans and crispy fried pieces of streaky bacon it makes an excellent light lunch or starter.
Strawberries June is also a month for strawberries. One of the easiest ways to deal with a surplus is to blitz them in a liquidiser, pour into small pots and freeze. Add to orange juice for a great smoothie.

May 2009.     A Garden Salad (with Asparagus).

        This is Asparagus season and if you don't grow your own there is plenty to buy locally.  It's an ingredient in the following recipe which also uses all the
        new season vegetables and salad leaves.
     Ingredients.  For two persons.

     ½ lb small new or salad potatoes-washed
1 dozen baby new carrots, washed, topped and tailed
A handful each of small broad beans, peas, mangetout or sugar snap peas
1 dozen radishes, washed topped and tailed
6 spears of asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 lettuce, washed and separated into leaves
Any other salad leaves - rocket, cress, chard etc.
2 eggs hard boiled
½ dozen chive and mint leaves, chopped for the dressing
3 table spoons of virgin olive oil
1 desert spoon of Dijon mustard
1 table spoon of white wine vinegar


Cook the potatoes until tender, cool and halve.
Remove the egg shells and quarter the eggs. 
Boil the carrots, peas, beans and asparagus for a couple of minutes so they are 
still crisp. 
Slice the radishes. 
Mix the dressing. 
Put all the ingredients into a large bowl. 
Pour over the dressing and with salad servers, gently toss the salad so 
everything is coated with dressing. 
Transfer onto plates and serve with crusty bread. 
As the season advances you can add tomatoes, cucumber, celery etc. 

There were lots more ideas for asparagus in the June 2008 edition of Village Voices 
or see that month's entry below.

April 2009.    Vegetable Shepherd's Pie.
      The ingredients can be varied according to taste and the season, so the following is just a guideline. This is a good recipe to use with vegetables that 
      you froze last summer.
       Ingredients (for two persons)

       1 lb peeled potatoes - cooked and mashed with butter and milk.
       1 tbls. olive oil
       1 each onion, carrot, stick celery, turnip, handful of
          mushrooms, beans, sliced cabbage etc.
       1/2pt vegetable stock
       Grated cheddar cheese
       2 rashers streaky bacon, sliced.
       1 bay leaf


Finely slice all vegetables.
Gently heat olive oil in saucepan and add onion. Cook for 10 mins.
Add carrots and celery. Cook another 10 mins, stirring to prevent sticking.
Add other fresh vegetables. Stir into mixture and add stock.
Add bay leaf, cover and simmer until nearly tender.
Add any frozen veg. at this stage and bring to boil.
Remove bay leaf and check seasoning.
Turn on grill and warm suitable veg. dish underneath.
Using slotted spoon transfer veg. from pan to dish.
Add 2 tabs stock. Top with mashed potato and level off. Scatter with grated cheese and sliced bacon rashers.
Place under grill until everything is brown and crispy.
Surplus stock can be heated to accompany dish or frozen for future use.

March 2009.    Nettle Soup and Winter Carrots.

     Nettle Soup
     The cold weather never seems to stop the weeds growing and by now the nettles 
     have started to sprout.  However, they do make a very tasty nourishing soup.

      1.  Wearing rubber gloves pick 2 dozen fresh nettle shoots 
           (do not use mature leaves).
2. Soften a thinly sliced onion in olive oil.
Add a large sliced potato and cook for 5 mins.
3. Add nettle shoots and cook for another 5 mins.
4. Add 1 pint stock and grate in some nutmeg.
5. Cook until potato is tender. Remove from heat and blitz in a liquidiser.
6. Return to pan. Add 1/4 pt milk and reheat.
7. Check seasoning and serve.


Winter Carrots.
Here is another recipe for winter carrots which is quite delicious.

      1.  Saute a finely chopped onion until softened.
2. Add sliced carrots.
3. Pour over enough stock to cover.
4. Add a few preferably fresh rosemary leaves.
5. When tender, add a small amount of double cream and reheat.