Ecclefechan (or Border) Tart

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I wasn’t aware of this dessert until it was mentioned to me by a dear friend.  The name seemed interesting so I looked it up.  It did seem a yummy confection, so I gave it a go.  The tart is named after a village in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland.  It is indeed yummy,  and it is a great alternative to mince pies.


The Crust:

  • Plain or All-Purpose Flour 1 1/4 cups
  • Butter 1/4 cup chilled and cubed
  • Stork (or similar) Shortening 1/4 cup
  • Salt 1/4 tsp
  • Chilled Water 3 to 5 Tbs

The Filling:

  • Butter 1/2 cup  (unsalted is best), melted
  • Dark Brown Sugar 1/2 cup (packed)
  • Treacle 1 tsp
  • Eggs 2 large
  • Lemon Juice 1 Tbs (fresh is best)
  • Lemon Peel 1 tsp (packed), grated
  • Ground Cinnamon 1/2 tsp
  • Raisins 2 cups
  • Walnuts 1 cup (chopped)



The Crust:

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the water about a tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork after each splash. Continue adding water until the dough starts to hold together. Roll the dough into a ball and chill for at least half and hour before rolling out to fill a pie pan. It should make enough for a 9 inch single crust pie.

Then, preheat oven to 190 C/375 F. Line crust with foil; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until sides are set and slightly brown (about 30 minutes). Remove foil and beans. Continue to bake until golden brown. Cool crust in pan on a rack for 30 minutes.

The Filling:

Mix the butter and sugar in bowl.  Whisk in eggs 1 at a time.  Add the lemon juice, lemon peel, and cinnamon. Stir in raisins and the chopped nuts.  Pour filling into crust. Bake the tart [still at 190 C/375 F] until filling is deep brown and set in center, covering crust edges with foil if browning too quickly (about 30 minutes). Cool tart.



Five Minute Veggie Burritos

Taco, Food, Mexican, Tortilla, Meat, Lunch, Dinner


It’s Foodie Friday, and a recipe today.   If you read this blog regularly you will probably have worked out that I like to cook from as close to scratch as I can.  But that isn’t always possible.  Sometimes at the end of a day, facing cooking is the last thing on my list of things I’d like to do; and at other times, such as the arrival of unexpected company, a quick fix is more practical.

This recipe is one of those quick fixes.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t tasty, just that it is easy and fast to prepare.  It makes for a quick lunch as well, and is withing the budget and logistics of many college students as well.

So onwards to the burritos.


  • Flour Tortillas 4
  • Refried Beans 400 to 435 g tin (veggie type) I find Old El Paso brand best
  • Rice 250 g microwave pouch (use veggie Mediterranean, Spanish, or Mexican types)
  • Salsa 8 tsp
  • Cheese 100 g (I use hard goats cheese, but Cheddar works fine)
  • Tomatoes 2 fresh
  • Lettuce just a few leaves
  • Guacamole (optional) 4 tsp
  • Sour Cream (optional 4 tbs


Place a medium pan over medium heat.  Open the refried beans and spoon into pan.  While it begins to heat, follow the instructions on the microwave rice (usually about 2 minutes) and then dice the tomatoes and lettuce.  Stir the beans, and when the rice is finished stir it into the warm bean mixture and turn off heat, but allow to stay on hot stove/hob.  Grate the cheese then place the tortillas onto individual plates.  Put 1/4 of the bean/rice mixture in the centre of each wrap.  Then add a quarter of the salad to each and sprinkle with the cheese.  Add the salsa and other sauces is used, and fold the wraps to form burritos.  It will serve four (or two if hungry).


Apologies for not photographing the finished product, but the same rush that led to the “quick prep” also necessitated a “quick eat.”


“Something Fishy” Seafood Sandwich Filler


If you get bored with the same old – same old tuna sandwich combos, here is something to add some oomph to your lunch.

Taramasalata almost the exactly the same calories as mayonnaise.   It is made from salted and cured fish roe (usually cod) mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, and a starchy base of bread or potatoes.  Some varieties include garlic, spring onions, or peppers.

  • Tuna 1 tin (I prefer oil packed chunk)
  • Taramasalata 2 Tbs (slightly more if you want creamier consistency)
  • Shrimp (small precooked and shelled) 150 mg
  • Black Ground Pepper pinch
  • Capers (optional) 1 tsp


Drain the tuna and fork into a medium bowl.  Drain any excess moisture from the shrimp (prawns) and add to the tuna.  Add the pepper and capers (if used) and then stir in the taramasalata until evenly mixed.

Serve with iceberg lettuce and tomato slices in a sandwich or wrap.   It makes 2-4 servings.


Strawberry Apple Cooler

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It has been a while since I posted a mocktail or cooler recipe, so its time to remedy that.  We had friends around recently, and I was looking for a nice drink to share while chatting in the garden.  This drink came to mind as a variant of a mocktail we had seen in Great Yarmouth on a recent visit.


  • Strawberries 10 – 15 large
  • Truvia/Stevia 2 tsp or sugar 1 1/2 Tbs
  • Apple Juice 250 ml
  • Fizzy Lemonade/Diet Lemonade/Sprite 1.25 litres
  • Ice 2 cups


Remove the stems and leaved from berries and cut into quarters.  Place in a glass bowl and add the sweetener.  Mash thoroughly with a fork and add to a 2 litre pitcher or jug.  Add the apple juice and chill for an hour.  Add the ice to the container and top off with chilled lemonade.


Low Sugar Peanut Butter Cookies

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Though the weather is still warm, I thought a little baking wouldn’t be too uncomfortable.  So, it became “cookie time.”  These nut butter treats have no wheat flour, and no added sugar.  On this occasion I made them with crunchy peanut butter which was already in the larder, but almond butter works as well.


  • Peanut Butter 1 Cup (Crunchy) [or similar nut butter of your preference]
  • Eggs 2 large
  • Truvia granulated 1/3 cup
  • Almond Flour/ground Almond 2 heaped Tbs
  • Baking Powder 1/4 tsp
  • Cinnamon to sprinkle


Preheat the oven to 175 C/ 350 F and cover a baking sheet with baking paper.  Then in a mixing bowl mix together the nut flour, sweetener, and baking powder.  In a separate bowl whisk the two eggs until frothy.  Add the eggs and nut butter to the dry ingredients and mix until even.  Roll the mixture into a dozen evenly sized balls.  Place the balls onto the baking sheet and press them flat with a fork in a crisscross pattern.  Place in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with sweet cinnamon.  Let cool thoroughly before serving.



Simple Low Carb Blancmange

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As my wife’s illness progresses she has had to alter her diet a few times.  A strict keto diet is now unrealistic but low carb is still a must.  To bring some variety to her menu, I have made a few gelatin (jelly) dishes as they are very low carb, and tasty.  One of these is a soya based blancmange.  It has a certain creaminess to it, and seems more indulgent than plain fruit jelly (gelatin).


  • Sugar Free Jelly (Gelatin) fruit flavoured – 1 sachet (1/2 of 26 g dual pack)  I used Strawberry
  • Unsweetened Soya Milk 1 pint (570 ml)
  • Stevia/Truvia Granules  1 to 1 1/2 Tbs (or to taste)
  • Custard Powder 2 tsp (optional but makes firmer dessert)*


Pour the gelatin powder into a 1.5 litre glass bowl.   Then in a saucepan put the sweetener, and custard powder (if used) and 2 Tbs of the soya milk.   Mix till even.  Then add 1/2 pint of the milk (285 g) and heat and whip with a whisk until near boiling.  Pour the heated milk mixture over the gelatin and whisk until evenly dissolved.  The add remaining cold milk.  Whisk again until even and mildly frothy.  Pour into a jelly mold and chill, or merely place glass bowl into a fridge to cool.  Let chill for 2 to 3 hours.

* I have omitted the custard/or corn starch in the past to keep the carbs even lower, but the dessert while okay, doesn’t set as well.  If the carb can be tolerated (as per keto diets, or diabetic concerns) then it is nicer, but follow your own dietary needs as it adds approximately 2 g of carb per serving.  Gelatin component <0.5g, Sugar free soya component  <0.5g, Truvia component approximately 2 g (though manufacturer claims this is not absorbed and is at 0 calories) per 145 g serving [please note these are not scientifically measured by me, but merely quoting nutritional data from the products’ labels].



Simple Salmon Cake


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Salmon Cakes

It has been a while since I made a Foodie Friday post.  My wife’s illness has moved her onto a rather repetitive diet, most of the elements of which I have previously posted.  Travel Tuesdays have similarly been limited as we have needed to cancel a few trips, and or visited familiar nearby destinations, again previously posted.  But that does not mean everything is now routine.  Below is a quick and easy recipe which I made for my own enjoyment.

One of the memorable meals of my teenage years  was salmon cakes.  These relatively low cost, quick to prepare patties are a good protein source and tick the box for oily fish as well.   While higher quality poached fillets or boneless/skinless tinned varieties can be used, I keep it cheap and simple with standard tinned pink salmon.


  • Pink Salmon 213 to 230 g tin
  • Cheese Crackers 6-10
  • Egg 1
  • Ground Black Pepper pinch
  • Dijon Mustard 1 tsp
  • Dried Parsley 1 tsp
  • Oil splash



Crumble 6-8 crackers into a bowl and add the parsley and pepper.  Beat the egg and then whip in the mustard.  Drain the salmon and add to the crumbs, then add the egg/mustard mix.  Stir well, and form into two patties.  If overly moist add additional cracker crumbs one cracker’s worth at a time.  When happy with the consistency, heat oil in a shallow frying pan.  Then fry the patties for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden.





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Olive Cheese Spread

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It’s Foodie Friday and time for a review or recipe.  And this week it is a recipe for a  summer sandwich filler.  It is great in wraps, a condiment, or as a dip as well.


  • Black Olives (pitted)  10
  • Green Olives (pitted) 10
  • Garlic 1 small clove
  • Dried Basil 1/4 tsp
  • Hard Cheese (Goat or Cheddar) 50 – 70 g
  • Mayonnaise 2 Tbs



Slice the olives into rings and place in a small mixing bowl.  Shred the cheese and add to the olives along with the basil.  Peel and finely dice (or grate) the garlic and add to the bowl.  Finally stir in the mayo until mixture is even.

In a wrap or sandwich serve with spinach leaf or really mix things up by placing hummus on one side and the olive cheese mix on the other with the leaf between.




Spicing Up Your Healthy Snack: Foodie Tip

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I appreciate that fresh fruit is good for us, and plays an important role in our “five a day.”   It can, however, become “same old, same old.”  You can spice up your daily fruit to make a change to the ordinary.


  • Apple(s) [Pink Lady or other sweet dessert variety] 1-2
  • Ground Cinnamon 1/8 tsp


Chill the whole fruit in the fridge for 2 hours.  Peel if desired, but I don’t.  Then using a corer or wedge cutter remove the seed core.  If merely cored, cut into rings, and if in wedges just proceed.  Then place the apple pieces into a bowl and lightly sprinkle each piece with the cinnamon.  There is no need for sweetener as the apples’ own juice will act with the cinnamon.  That’s all there is to it.  Enjoy.

Oh, by the way it works with pears as well.


The Gourmet

Food, Objects, People, Paper, Bowl

image: Pixabay

Danny set the grocery bag down on the counter top.  He then took the printed screenshots from his pocket and perused them again.  He then started to remove items from the bag.

Emmer wheat egg pasta. Check.  Isle of Mull Cheddar. Check. Hard-set Parmigiano-Reggiano. Chh-eck. A little Roquefort and buffalo Mozzarella.  All good!  he thought as he laid out the ingredients.

With everything laid out, he began.  He diced three shallots and a garlic clove, and then carefully measured out two tablespoons of salted butter into a pan.  Just a little above medium, he thought.  Then he added the shallots and garlic to the pan. He stirred the veg purposely until it just started to brown.  He removed the pan from the heat, and checked his notes.  “Perfect,” he said aloud.

He then grated 250 grams of the cheddar, and fifty each of the Mozzarella and Roquefort.  He then sprinkled a teaspoon of ground mustard over the cheese.

He then measured out the water into a large pan and added a pinch of salt before putting it on to boil.  That done he preset the oven for 200C.  Liz is going to love this, he mused in self-congratulations.

When the water came to boil, he poured in the macaroni.  Two minutes less than the packet says, so six minutes.

When the six minutes elapsed he drained the pasta, and then melted another two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan.  Then he added two tablespoons of flour and made a quick roux.  He slowly whisked in 500 mils of whole cream milk until he had a lump free sauce.  Gradually he mixed in three quarters of the grated cheese until it melted and thickened.

What time is it? he wondered glancing at his watch. Half past four, all according to plan.

He added the shallot mixture, butter and all to the sauce and removed it from the heat.

He dug under the counter and pulled out a casserole dish and poured the pasta into it.  He then covered the macaroni with the sauce and mixed it together well.  He then added the remaining grated cheese.  He then grated 30 grams of the Parmesan over it and a half teaspoon of dried parsley.

Popping into the oven, he gave a relaxing sigh and checked his watch again.  Twenty minutes, then let set for five more.  So, about ten past five.  Perfect, Liz is due at quarter past.

He then began to set the table and even put out the candle sticks.

At five o’five he took out the casserole and placed it on the serving tiles.  He lit the candles, and opened a bottle of wine.

Just as everything was ready he could hear keys in the door lock.

“Ta Dah,” he said as she entered the dining room.

“What’s all this?  said asked in astonishment.

“This morning you said you really fancied some Mac & Cheese tonight.  So here it is Sweetie.”

“Oh, Danny you numskull,” she said giving him a quick peck as she passed by him.

She stepped into the bombsite of a kitchen, and opened a cupboard.  “Mac & Cheese,” she said as she rattled a box of Kraft M & C.”


The Haunted Wordsmith Prompt A (food challenge): Mac & Cheese [I loved this prompt as it allowed a great medium to embed a recipe into a story].