A variety of feathered visitors feed here every day throughout winter and early spring. It is also their social centre for some seemingly just come to chatter and never bother to feed. So the 25th D brought no exception and no difference to the small birds' routine unlike Big Bird and myself who were busily preparing oodles of vegetables within close proximity of the fireside. Dissimilar to previous years we had a new delight this day, heralding the success of the my attempt to make clotted cream, for a full 1/2lb sat in the bottom of the fridge, to be enjoyed later with a slice of rich fruit cake.
This was not my only culinary skill of the day, for a large nut roast had been prepared the previous night, to a recipe which I concocted when living a solitary life. In similar vein I was once noted for my exceptional soda bread gained by merely adjusting the recipe and adding a handful of sesame seeds.
Unfortunately due to our having given up wheat and having preference to oat, rye or rice cakes, visitors can no longer enjoy slices of my fresh bread.
The morning of the 25th was by anyone's standards a hardy one as the photos will show. I shivered further, when my eye fell on a tent pitched outside of a neighbours cabin, left there from the summer. 'Lord bless and save us' went through my mind as I hurried home for a glass of warming port.
Mrs Heron (aka BB above) made a wonderful lunch of roasted veg, we had parsnips, delicate slivers of carrot, whole segments of garlic, sprouts, spuds, two lots of stuffing, the nut roast and a red wine sauce all washed down with copious amounts of Chateauneuf de Pape . As you can imagine it was a several hours later before we tucked into our delicious dessert.
The night ended with a glass of Port, followed by another glass of Port and so we floated off to bed and into dreamland.
Nut Roast Loaf
500g Large onions
500g Unsalted peanuts
50g Unsalted cashew cuts (halved)
50g Crushed walnuts
2 Large eggs
5 Cloves of fresh garlic
1 Large can of organic baked beans
1 can of chopped tomato
1Teaspoon of ground Black Pepper
4 Tablespoonfuls of virgin olive oil
10g herbs de provence
1 Teaspoon of fenugreek seed
12 pitted black olives
Butter for greasing baking tin
20 cm diameter x 9 cm Baking Tin
Large iron frying pan.
Large mixing bowl .
& Index finger for tasting the uncooked mix :)
Peel and slice the onions and place in frying pan, add about 4 tablespoons of olive oil - needs to be about 1 cm deep. Sauté the onions on a medium heat till nice and soft.
Whilst the onions are cooking grind the peanuts to a coarse grit, I use a coffee bean grinder,
a few whole ones won’t hurt either.
Tip the ground peanuts into mixing bowl along with a few cashew halves, stir around and mix in the chopped or sliced garlic, add fenugreek, black pepper and the herbs; then make a well in the middle and add the sautéed onions and any oil left in frying pan.
To the mix add a can of chopped tomatoes or baked beans, then add the olives and mix thoroughly. Finally stir in two beaten eggs.
What I do then is to taste the mix before cooking, if it’s okay on your palate, carry on with the process, if not then add additional spices or ingredients until you are satisfied with the flavor.
Grease the sides and bottom of the baking tin with plenty of butter and on the bottom of the tin place a good coverage of cashew nuts. The idea is that when baked and tipped upside down before serving, the nut roast loaf will look pleasing to the eye!
So having put the cashews on bottom of tin, now spoon in the mixture and level the top with either back of spoon or a spatula.
Place in a preheated oven at gas mark 5 for about 45 minute to 60 minutes.
As with a baking a fruit cake, you can test after 45 minutes by inserting the blade of a knife all the way to bottom of tin at the centre, if it comes out clean the baking is done, if not give a few more minutes and test again.
Once cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool.
Whilst cooling I run a sharp thin bladed knife around the tin to prevent sides from sticking.
When cool tip upside down on to a serving plate and enjoy!