Wild Blackberry Pie

Around this time of year is when you will find blackberries growing wild all over here in Britain. It’s not just in the more countryside type areas either. We’ve found plenty down alleyways and along roadsides nearby. The ones I used for this recipe however were picked from along the local canal side, as I felt they were less exposed to pollutants than those along the roadside.

For this recipe you can use either purchased blackberries or ones you have picked yourself its completely up to you. You can also swap blackberries for other types of berries if you prefer. WARNING: Never ever pick a berry to eat unless you know for certain that it is an edible type of berry.

This pie is very easy to make, even more so if you use a ready made roll of shortcrust pastry. However if you prefer to make your own pastry then don’t hesitate to do so. The amount of sugar used in the pie is also quite flexible. Feel free to adjust the amount depending on the tartness of the berries you use and your individual tastes.

If you are using wild blackberries then you want to make sure that you wash them really well to get out any dirt and creepy crawlies. I usually fill a bowl with room temperature water and add a bit of vinegar. I then add the berries, give them a good swish around and leave to soak for 5 mins or so. I then drain and repeat with just plain water. It is better to not wash your berries until you are ready to use them.

Ingredients

  • 500g Blackberries
  • 100g Granulated Sugar + an extra tsp for sprinkling on top
  • 70g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 Roll of Shortcrust Pastry (you can always make your own)
  • 1 tsp Milk

Method

1) Start by washing your berries well and leaving them to drain in a colander.

2) Pre heat your oven to Gas Mark 7 or 220 degrees Centigrade.

3) Grease a 9 inch pie dish (one that’s not too deep) with a little olive oil. I used the lid from a large glass casserole dish for mine.

4) Take your pastry from the fridge and unroll it. Fill the pie dish with a layer of the pastry and cut off the excess. If you like a bigger ‘crust’ around the edge of your pie than I do then feel free to leave enough pastry to allow this.

5) In a large mixing bowl, mix together the granulated sugar and self raising flour.

6) Make sure any excess water is drained from the bottom of the colander and then add the berries to the bowl and mix together. How well you mix everything together is completely up to you. I like to mix mine really well so that the mixture is almost starting to turn more like a paste rather than individual berries coated in flour and sugar.

7) Spoon the mixture into your pie base and spread out with the back of a spoon.

8) If you don’t have a big enough piece of rolled out pastry for the lid, then make the remaining dough into a ball and roll it out until large enough. Put the pastry on top of the pie and cut off the excess. Any left over pastry can be frozen.

9) Crimp the sides of the pie together with the prongs of a fork. You also want some ventilation holes so poke some in the top with the fork as well. I decided I wanted to make some bird feet shapes after I has already poked some holes hence the pattern on top of my pie.

10) Brush the top with the milk and then sprinkle over a little sugar.

11) Put your pie in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to about Gas Mark 5 or 190 degrees Centigrade. Leave the pie for around another 20 – 30 mins. Your pie should be golden brown on top and cooked on the base when ready.

12) When the pie is done remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 mins. We like to eat ours while still a little warm with some vanilla ice cream.

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Valentine’s Morning Pancakes

This month is not only a leap year month, but we have both Pancake Day and Valentines Day coming up. I thought I would share with you all the pancake breakfast I did for me and my husband for last years Valentine’s Day morning.

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Equipment you will need:

  • Small frying pan
  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Rubber heart shape pancake/egg mould (you can normally find these in supermarkets around valentines day).

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Ingredients you will need:

  • 250ml milk
  • 100g flour
  • 1 egg
  • ΒΌ teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil
  • Nutella chocolate spread
  • Punnet of strawberries

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What to do:

  1. Wash the strawberries.
  2. Cut off the stems by making a rounded ‘v’ shape in the top of the strawberry.
  3. Then cut each strawberry into slices to make heart shaped slices. Keep to one side.
  4. Next, add the milk, flour, egg and salt to a mixing bowl and whisk together to make a batter.
  5. Leave the bowl in the fridge for 10 mins.
  6. Remove the bowl from the fridge and whisk again.
  7. Heat a little oil in the frying pan on a medium heat.
  8. Place the rubber mould in the pan and pour in the batter to fill the heart shape. Don’t go too fast with the batter as it will start to run out from under the mould. If this happens just push it down in the areas where it is leaking from. You want the pancakes to be around 5mm thick maximum.
  9. As soon as the batter is almost fully solid on top, you can remove the mould without it running everywhere.Be careful when touching the mould as it will be hot.
  10. Repeat steps 7 – 9 until all the batter has been used up.
  11. Spread each pancake with Nutella and place a slice of strawberry on top.

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You can use any left over strawberries to make a strawberry milk shake like I did. The pancake batter recipe I used just follows the standard British pancake recipe my parents have always used for pancake day. Enjoy!

Chocolate Covered Grapes Recipe

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So today I have another chocolate covered frozen fruit treat that is so easy to make and you can mix and match the types of grapes and chocolate that you use to suit your tastes. The fact that the grapes are frozen gives them a kind of ice lolly texture so it’s like your eating small pieces of chocolate covered ice lolly (popsicle).

Ingredients

  • A medium sized punnet of grapes of your choice. Red or green it’s up to you.
  • Around a 200g bar of chocolate of your choice (milk/dark/white)

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Method
1) First, break up the chocolate and put it in a mixing bowl, place the bowl over a saucepan of water on the hob. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Turn on the heat and bring the water to a boil so that the chocolate starts to melt.

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2) Meanwhile, pull your grapes from their stalks, wash them thoroughly, and leave them to drain in a colander for a little while before using kitchen roll to dry them fully.

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3) Using a toothpick, push one grape onto the end of it.

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4) By this time your chocolate should hopefully be melted. Using a spoon, cover the grape with the melted chocolate, making sure it is covered fully. Note: Once the chocolate in the bowl has melted fully, make sure you remove the bowl from the heat to stop it burning.

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5) Remove the grape from the toothpick carefully using the spoon and place it onto some baking paper. Spread the back of the spoon over the hole left by the toothpick to cover it. Repeat this until all your chocolate is used up.

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6) Place the baking paper with the grapes on into the fridge just long enough so that the chocolate can become solid. Once this has happened, you can peel the grapes from the paper and then stack them up on top of each other into a container with a lid. Then place this in the freezer for several hours or overnight to allow the grapes to become frozen. They are then ready to enjoy!

Banana Chocolate Coins

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Bananas are a very versatile fruit. I think it’s their texture that helps with this. They are also very yummy and sweet. Today I will show you a yummy snack, that is even better if you store them overnight in the freezer.

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Ingredients

  • About 3 medium – large bananas
  • About 200g of chocolate of your choice (milk/dark/white)

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Method
1) First, break up the chocolate and put it in a mixing bowl, place the bowl over a saucepan of water on the hob. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Turn on the heat and bring the water to a boil so that the chocolate starts to melt.

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2) Meanwhile, peel your bananas and slice them into thick coin shapes of about 1 – 2cm thick.

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3) Using a kebab skewer, push one slice of the banana onto the end of it.

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4) By this time your chocolate should be at least part melted. Using a spoon, cover the banana with the melted chocolate, making sure it is covered fully. Note: Once the chocolate in the bowl has melted fully, make sure you remove the bowl from the heat to stop it burning.

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5) Remove the banana slice from the skewer using the spoon and place it onto some baking paper. Spread the back of the spoon over the top of the slice in order to cover the hole left by the skewer. Repeat this until all your ingredients are used up.

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6) Place the baking paper with the banana slices on into the fridge just long enough so that the chocolate can become solid. Once this has happened, you can peel the slices from the paper and then stack them up on top of each other into a container with a lid. Then place this in the freezer for several hours or overnight to allow the banana to become frozen. They are then ready to enjoy!

Mango, Lime and Coconut Icy Dessert

This experiment started off as a smoothie, but then I wondered what would it be like if I froze it and used it as a dessert.
I blended together a can of coconut milk, 3 mangoes and the juice of 2 limes. I then poured it into a ice cream tub and then put it in the freezer to freeze. It took almost a day to freeze for me. My husband says this is because of the lime juice. When you are ready to eat it, leave it out of the freezer for a bit and then hack off chunks with a spoon to get yummy fruity icy flakes. I think this would make a good recipe for home made ice lollies as it has a similar texture when frozen.

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Banana and Peanut 2 Ingredient Ice Cream

I recently found out that you can use bananas to make a frozen ice cream type dessert which is pretty yummy if you like banana. It won’t replace real ice cream but it is still bananary goodness and is a lot healthier. For this recepie I added some peanuts, but you could add all sorts of things to it.

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Ingredients

  • A bunch of about 6 bananas
  • 100 – 150g of plain peanuts depending on how nutty you prefer it to be.

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Method

  1. Take you bananas, peel them and slice them up.
  2. Put them in a container and put in the freezer for about 4h or until frozen.
  3. Meanwhile put your nuts in a food processor to break them up into smaller pieces. Keep them to one side.
  4. When the banana is frozen, remove it from the freezer and add to the food processor. You can do this in batches if your food processor is small.
  5. Process the banana. You might need to scrape around the sides every now and then to get the bits that get stuck around the sides blended up. Keep processing until the banana becomes creamy in texture.
  6. Put the banana mixture and peanuts into a container like an old ice cream tub. Stir in the peanuts, but do not over stir. Then put it in the freezer until it is frozen.

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Watermelon Slushie

This is another refreshing slushie for a hot summer day, which is very similar to the previous slushie that I posted. Simply take one medium sized watermelon and slice the flesh into cubes. Put them in plastic containers and put in the freezer overnight or until frozen. Then into your smoothie maker fill it with frozen melon cubes up to the max fill line. Add about a tablespoon of honey, as well as the juice of half a large lemon. You will need to add some water in order to get it to blend easily. Start by filling the smoothie maker cup 1/4 of the way with water. Then blend everything together. If you find it is not blending easily then add a little more water and try again as required. Once it is blended there will be more room in the cup and so you can add more cubes of the frozen melon. Blend again and repeat until you have used about half of the melon cubes. To serve I found it easiest to spoon the slushie into tall glasses and then add a thick straw.

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Honeydew Slushie

This is such a refreshing slushie for a hot summer day. Simply take one honeydew melon and slice the flesh into cubes. Put them in a plastic container and put in the freezer overnight or until frozen. Then into your smoothie maker add as many of the frozen melon cubes as you can fit up to the max fill line. Add about a tablespoon of honey, as well as the juice and zest of half a large lemon. You will need to add some water in order to get it to blend easily. Start by filling the smoothie maker cup 1/4 of the way with water. Then blend everything together. If you find it is not blending easily then add a little more water and try again as required. Once it is blended there will be more room in the cup and so you can add more cubes of the frozen melon. Blend again and repeat until you have used about half of the melon cubes. To serve I found it easiest to spoon the slushie into glasses.

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