Cooking


This is a very simple recipe but my wife has said it is the best ‘vegetarian’ food she’s ever tasted. We are not vegetarian but eat ‘without meat’ twice a week. The recipe isn’t truly ‘vegetarian’ either as it has Parmesan cheese.

I got the basic idea from somewhere but cannot remember where so apologies for no acknowledgement.

This week’s version was slightly different to that of last week as I did not have one of the ingredients – spinach – but I’ll give last week’s recipe because although that of this week was good that last week was better. As usual, I didn’t measure anything so apart from the cream cheese, everything else is an approximation.

Ingredients

3 large flat mushrooms; 1 packet of cream cheese (200g); about 50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated, with a little more to sprinkle on top; 3 cloves of garlic; 4 large handfuls of ‘baby spinach’; 1/4 tspn freshly ground black pepper; 1/4 tspn chilli or cayenne pepper; 1 tblspn good olive oil.

Method

Wipe the mushrooms with some kitchen paper. Carefully break out the stalk. Finely chop the mushroom stalks and garlic and fry in the olive oil (careful not to burn the garlic). Allow to cool. Mix together the cream cheese and parmesan, then add the pepper and chilli and mix well. Finally add the fried garlic and mushroom stalks, again mixing well.

Meanwhile heat the spinach in a large pan until it is wilted and allow to cool.

Squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as possible then put 1/3 in each mushroom top. Then put 1/3 of the cheese mixture on top of the spinach. Finally, grate a little more Parmesan on each.

Lay a sheet of non-stick baking paper on a baking sheet then put on the stuffed mushrooms and put in an oven preheated to 200degC for 1/2 hour or till just browned on top.

Comments

Goes well with baked potato soaked in butter (has the advantage that this too can be baked in the oven at 200degC, put in 1/2 hour before the mushrooms).

The recipe would probably work with creme fraiche, but I haven’t tried it.

If you don’t like ‘hot/spicy’ leave out the chilli/cayenne.

Advertisements

Daniel’s cafe/bistro Ilkley is not run by Daniel but by his daughter Miruna and her husband. The name is a tribute to Miruna’s father who runs a hotel in our other favourite place, the Romanian Bucovina, specifically in the spa town (a bit like Harrogate) of Vatra Dornei.

We decided to visit this small but cosy coffee shop by day, a ‘bistro’ in the evening, yesterday afternoon. The cakes are ‘interesting’, yesterday’s were with butternut squash or pumpkin, but neither is ‘my cup of tea’ as we say so I opted for the Romanian sponge with apple and plums, the only truly Romanian cake on offer. With the first taste it took me back to my ‘honorary grandmother’s’ house near Câmpulung Moldovenesc, about 30km from the spa town, where we twice stayed for a while during our summer break. She makes an identical ‘cake’ (in fact it’s more like a pudding).

If a new visitor to Ilkley don’t stop at the Cow & Calf rocks and a walk on Ilkley moor but continue on the moorland road for some wonderful views. Here’s as we decend into our village

Romanian chocolate cakes

Unfortunately, not liking anything with fruit Petronela settled for just one of the excellent coffees. It’s a pity there are not more Romanian cakes, particularly chocolate cakes of which there are many: chec negru (black cake), amandine, mascota and others. All excellent and any one of them would have suited Petronela. There had been brownies, sold out, but for me the Romanian version is better: boema, chocolate cake soaked in a caramel syrup and topped with a ganache and ‘frișcă’ – sweetened whipped cream. It’s certainly more indulgent for any chocoholic.

But the main reason for a visit to Daniel’s if you are in Ilkley is the Romanian (more exactly Bucovinian) welcome. You will not find a more hospitable, friendly people anywhere and it hasn’t been diminished at all by being transplanted in Yorkshire.

Something I particularly like is Miruna’s tribute to her father, posted on a window. That also is very typically Romanian. Having been lucky enough to meet him on a previous visit, we can confirm he’s a great guy.

Daniel’s cafe/bistro has a website:

https://www.danielscafebistro.co.uk/

Don’t miss it (not open every day – see website) if you visit this lovely small Yorkshire town. If you’re lucky Miruna will have taken my hint and have more Romanian chocolate cakes!

Halloween borsch? With witches’ noses

I abandoned Keighley library yesterday, visiting my friend Lou who lives with her family in a lovely old farmhouse overlooking the moors close to the Brontë village of Haworth. Her home is not in what you’d call a village, a hamlet would be more correct; there are no street names, the houses just have a number then hamlet name, like many small villages in Romania. I haven’t seen Lou for quite a while for one reason or another so three hours drinking ‘a brew’ (Yorkshire for a pot of tea!) and chatting in her farmhouse kitchen passed very quickly. Husband Stephen, a busy man – farmer, builder and heaven knows what else – popped in for a minute.

Lou runs her graphic design and small printing business from home. I love the fact that at the time her 10 year old daughter Kate is picked up from school business stops for the day. I saw Kate’s first watercolour yesterday, following a school trip to the English Lake District; she’s clearly taking after her mother. Unfortunately I couldn’t wait to say hello to her after school as I had to pick up Petronela.

Keighley railway station

 

On the way to Lou’s I stopped at Keighley railway station, one terminus of the Worth Valley steam railway, and took a couple of pictures to fulfil a promise. No steam engines there at the time so I stopped briefly in Haworth when I saw two engines in steam.

Borș, beetroot-coloured but without beetroot

I had a brief discussion about borș (Romanian spelling) a couple of days ago on the blog of one of my favourite food bloggers, Gabi in Gură Humorului, România. She’s a superb food photographer too. Part of the discussion was about how borș, the sour liquid added to a ‘soup’ to make it ‘borș’, should be made.

Seeing for the first time ‘purple’ carrots in a supermarket (Sainsbury’s – being sold as ‘witch’s noses’ as it’s close to Halloween – aaagh!), I decided to make a borș using the carrots.

 

I don’t make the borș (the sour liquid – confusing isn’t it?), I buy it (as Gabi said she does) but mine from Marinela’s Romanian shop in Leeds. As I said, it’s made by fermenting wheat bran.

My ‘borsch’ looks more like a witches’ brew than any borș I’ve seen gracing a Romanian table, but tastes pretty good. Apart from the purple carrots, which have a slightly peppery taste when raw, it has a chicken stock base with proper borș added ‘to taste’ (I like it fairly sour) but what in Moldova at least is considered an essential ingredient – leuștan, ‘lovage’ – potato, some left-over pork sliced into thin strips and, finally, added at the table, sour cream.

Purple is, of course, an original colour of wild carrots, the ‘eastern’ variety originating in Afghanistan. Those I bought yesterday were grown in Scotland, by James Rearie in Fife. I’d never seen one before. There’s a lot more information about them on the web page of the Carrot Museum; yes, there is such a thing.

Returning to Keighley

It looks as though I’ll be returning to Keighley the week after next, after school half-term break, as it seems Petronela will probably will continue teaching there. I’ll likely continue my Keighley sagas now and then.

 

 

I’ve said in recent posts that I don’t believe in coincidence and that I’m easily distracted. Venturing upstairs to the reference and study section of Keighley library after my morning double espresso in Wetherspoons next door (see previous posts), I had to confront both.

Philip Snowden and women’s suffrage

First, ‘talking’ about how I began my blog to another blogger earlier this morning (she’ll know who she is) I mentioned one motivation being my desire to air my ire about discrimination, particularly discrimination against women. What first confronted me when I walked along the upstairs floor of the library? The ‘Snowden Library’, that of  Philip Snowden, a tireless campaigner for women’s suffrage. You’ll find more about him in one the pictures.

Proper parkin – again – and other recipes

Then, resisting the temptation to sit down all day with some of his books, I wandered to another section to see what they had about the beautiful Wharfe valley in which I live. A book about Yorkshire dishes almost jumped off the shelf at me. I opened it at a random page and what recipe did I see? Parkin! A proper recipe, almost the same as that I posted a few days ago.  And plot toffee.

I spent much of the rest of my time today with that book and recorded 27 recipes on the iPad. I’m putting some of them here as pictures. I had to include a fish recipe; in Yorkshire you’re never far from the sea and the superb Yorkshire coast. Then there’s a really weird one, ‘Long life’, using whole eggs, shell and all. I just had to include that.

Chicken stew and dumpings? I was taken back to childhood by the recipe for rabbit stew and dumplings. That was a frequent winter meal (rabbit was cheap, the cheapest meat; then chicken was a luxury, for Christmas). Now chicken is cheap and rabbit a luxury, hence chicken stew: chicken legs, onion, garlic, carrot, red lentils, barley, tarragon, parsley, thyme and sage.

Perfect for the cold, miserable, wet weather today, for which I abandoned a planned trip to one or more Worth Valley Railway stations.

Brontës

Finally, I spent a short time in the Brontë section. I knew if I got immersed in that I’d probably lose all sense of time and get a frantic phone call from Petronela asking where I was when she finished school. I just hope she’ll be returning there after the half-term break; she’s enjoying it having knocked the students into shape in the first two days.

I could spend six months in each of those sections.

‘My corner’ this week. The library beckons through the window

It’s ironic that my morning ‘coffee shop’ this week, the Wetherspoon public house (‘pub’) named The Livery Rooms, was built in the late 19th century for the Keighley Temperance Society.  When opened in 1896 it was the Keighley Temperance Institute and Hall. One of the entrances has an eroded but fanciful stone carving announcing entrance to the institute. The stone carving of the hall name is perfectly preserved over a grand entrance round the side though this entrance is not used as an entry to the pub.

Prior to temperance halls about the only places to hold meetings and other social activities were inns and pubs, which of course encouraged drinking of alcohol, so the halls were often built by the temperance movement to provide rooms for a range of a activities; many included a coffee shop.

Temperance movement

The temperance movement was very strong in England from the early to mid 19th century to as late as the start of the second World War. It grew from a pledge to abstain from ‘intoxicating beverages’ signed in 1832 by seven men from Preston, one of them my namesake a Mr Livesey (Joseph). In the early days the movement opposed the drinking of spirits, particularly the drink of the working classes and the poor – gin – but accepted drinking beer. Later it promoted total abstinence.

Another irony: the current fashion for drinking very expensive gins at ridiculous prices, hardly a drink for the poor (one of our village social clubs now promotes that it has 40 on offer) is replacing another ‘fashion’ of recent years – Prosecco. Half the population seemed to forget there were other (much better) wines. Now it is being abandoned for ‘fancy’ gins.

Band of Hope

My grandmother was a member of the ‘Band of Hope’, a temperance movement begun in Leeds in 1847 which was particularly concerned about drinking by children and the effect on children of drinking by adults. It began as a group for under 16s and at the first meeting around 200 children signed the pledge: ‘I, the undersigned, do agree that I will not use intoxicating liquors as a beverage’. They joined another 100 children at the meeting who had already signed. I suspect my grandmother signed the pledge as a child. Her brother, my great uncle Albert, was allowed just one drink a year, whisky, at Christmas. I have a feeling he had a sneaky dram at other times but it was never mentioned and I never saw it.

The follow on from the Band of Hope still exists today as Hope UK which tackles both alcohol and drug abuse by young people.

I don’t remember what the building was used for when I was at high school just across the road; I probably never noticed it despite frequent visits to the library next door. I do know it was at some time a cinema (The Regent) and used as a bingo hall. It was abandoned for a number of years before being bought by the Wetherspoon pub chain. It opened as ‘The Livery Rooms’ in 2004.

The name, The Livery Rooms, comes from the fact that at one time stables, I believe for the Town Hall, occupied the site, or part of it.

Typical Wetherspoon pub layout inside

Wetherspoon have done a pretty good job in renovating it as a pub. It is a typical Wetherspoon pub with a large open plan seating area and a long bar with a wide selection of beers, both good cask ales as well as that gassy Continental style stuff. They also serve food – not cordon bleu for sure but not bad and not highly priced. I’ve mentioned the decent coffee at a reasonable price in a previous post, but if you like filter coffee (I do not) it costs 99p for a cup and refills are free. Then of course there’s the free WiFi.

The history of the building and some high points of the surrounding area is told in old photographs and various other artworks adorning the walls.

Real log fires

A finishing touch is real log fires. Pity they have a fire guard around them but, as  children are welcome, a necessity. I’ve made a comfy corner near the fire ‘mine’ this week. If Petronela’s teaching stint at the Keighley school continues after the week half term break next week, I may have a little brass plaque made engraved with ‘Grumpytyke’s corner’ and fix in that spot.

This post was prompted by a request for more pictures of the Keighley Wetherspoon from my Latvian blogger friend Ilze. Who am I to refuse a lovely lady? I’m wondering whether to finish this series of posts on aspects of Keighley with a visit upstairs in the library, the reference and study section, or the railway station – one terminus of the Worth Valley Railway, or a visit to the Brontë village of Haworth. Maybe all three?

'Slices' of parkin on a plate

Cut but to be wrapped in foil for about three weeks before eating

Last year I was a bit late making parkin. It improves with age and though most recipes say leave it a couple, or a few, days before eating, I think it’s much better left for two or three weeks, tightly wrapped or in an airtight tin. I don’t have a suitable tin so I wrap in it non-stick baking paper then foil.

This year I’ve managed to fit in making it before going to ‘do my thing’ at the Ilkley Literature Festival. I’ve decided not to read my fairy story as I was not happy reading a cut up version. Read all about it, with the fairy story, tomorrow morning.

It’s not difficult to make, in fact very easy; the biggest problem is resisting the temptation to eat it before 5th November, for which date it is traditionally made. The other traditional foods are potatoes baked in the fire, and ‘plot toffee’, made by boiling dark sugar, and perhaps molasses,  with butter until it will set hard when cooled, and ‘toffee apples’ – apples on sticks dipped in the toffee when liquid.

Guy Fawkes

For non-British readers who may not know the significance of 5th November, we ‘commemorate’ the failure of Guy Fawkes, a Yorkshireman (what else?), to  blow up parliament with the king in 1605 (if you want to know more just Google ‘Guy Fawkes’ and Wikipedia has it).

Traditionally we have a bonfire, the children make an effigy of Guy Fawkes, go with it from house to house calling “Penny for the guy”, the money collected being spent on fireworks. Now it’s more usually adults who spend ridiculous amounts of money competing to see who can make the largest ‘bang’. Nevertheless, many communities still have a bonfire and fireworks.

The tradition is gradually being replaced by a massive money-making event five days before, where supermarkets and other shops sell trashy ‘scary’ costumes and kids come asking ‘trick or treat?” Halloween – a corruption imported from the USA of another tradition. It’s horrible.

Parkin recipe.

I won’t give the recipe for ‘proper parkin’ here as I did that last year. You’ll find it in the post of 27 October last year. This year I changed it slightly, putting 50/50 medium oatmeal and pinhead oatmeal as I like the latter.

The freshly baked bread sliced

It’s time (tomorrow) to visit my consultant (doctor) at the hospital so I needed to have a blood test today. The hospital is about 12 miles away, my family doctor 2-3 minutes on foot. In theory I could get the blood test done at the family doctor but they’ve always ‘lost’ it so I go to the hospital. I usually go very early, before everyone sent by the doctors on their rounds arrive, but this morning I couldn’t do that so I went at lunchtime when it is again quiet. How to fill the time? Clear up the kitchen, read blogs, comment on some and make some bread!

I decided to make my usual bread, lazy bread as the hard work is done by a breadmaker (£10 in a charity shop many years ago). So, I made two tin loaves; I usually do this now as being only two of us the majority is sliced and put in the freezer.

Now, I got told off recently for not putting a recipe, and not making pictures clickable to be viewed at full size, so I’ve put them in a gallery which is one way of doing this (hello 👋 Ilze 😂😇) and am giving my recipe (though I think I’ve done it before). ‘Real’ bakers, tv celebrity bakers will probably have a fit but it works and is great for people who have other things to do as it requires no more than 5-7 minutes ‘doing something’ to the bread, so you can get on with something else. Here’s the recipe (the spelt flour gives an unusual texture, which I like):

500g wholemeal strong bread flour; 168g wholemeal spelt flour; 10g butter; 2.1/2tsp sugar; 2.1/2tspn salt; 7g dried fast acting yeast; 432ml water.

My method is not at all like that given by the breadmaker manufacturer but I never was good at doing what I’m told:

Put the water and butter in the bread maker. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Spoon them on top of the water in the breadmaker. Set the breadmaker on the ‘dough’ programme and switch it on. All that takes a couple of minutes. Leave till the programme is finished (1.1/2 hours on my machine), meanwhile you can read some blogs, comment on a few, and write your own post (or you can sleep till the beep sounds).

Tip the dough out onto a floured surface. Fold over and push with the heel of the hand 12 times. Shape into a round, cut in half, shape each half into a sausage the length of the bread tins, put them in the tins, make three deep slashes in each. Optional: paint with milk and sprinkle on poppy seeds.

Put into a warm place (I put in the top oven set to 50degC). Cover with a cloth and leave till well risen (for me 1/2hr) during which you can have another catnap. Have the oven at 180degC. Bake for 20 minutes. Tip out of the tins and put back directly on the oven shelf till tapped on the bottom it sounds hollow (5-10 minutes. You get to know from the sound of the first tap when you’ve made a few). Leave to cool on a wire tray.

Bloodletting

The phlebotomists at the hospital (Airedale) are great, as are all the staff. Until I began to have these regular pricks I was a bit nervous. I cured it by taking a photo of the needle going in and enjoy the short chat with the lady taking my blood.

The needle for taking blood pictured just about to go into my left arm

Just about two years ago; that’s my arm. The hands are of a trainee phlebotomist

I was even more nervous of the ‘big needle’ which gets stuck in my belly every 3 months. I usually manage to have the same nurse, Hafsa, who makes me laugh and I hardly feel a thing. “It’s a screwdriver, not a needle,” she tells me. I’ve never dared to look. The nurse in Romania this summer, Paula, was equally expert.

The weather

Raining, again.

Next Page »