Wednesday, 31 October 2007

And The Winner Is . . .

Happy Halloween everyone!

The day is finally here to tally up for votes for the Show Us your Sarnie competetion I hosted this month. All the entries were lovely and I would so love to be able to send each and every one a prize, but alas I must pick only three.

Winner of the first prize, a lovely selection Katherine Kidston Soaps with her delicious looking Thanksgiving Afters Sarnie is Sarah from What Smells So Good . Congratulations Sarah!

Then there is a tie between three for the next two prizes. Kevin of Closet Cooking for his delicious looking Croque Monsieur with Pear and Smoked Turkey , Kelly from Sass and Veracity for her lovely "So Cal Sarnie: Roasted Veggies & Goat's Cheese with Arugula on Ciabatta" and Tracy of Pink Purl for her lucious looking "Lancaster Sarnie!"

Kevin I am awarding you with the delicious box of chocolates, Kelly I am going to be sending you the lovely selection of Flower Salves and Tracy I am sending you a choice of either the chocolates or the flower salves, you pick which one you want!

If you could all send me your mailing addresses I shall get the prizes out to you post haste!

So, there you have it, all the winners, and YES there is actually four of you, not three, but how could I choose only two from the three sarnies that tied with each other??? Impossible!

Many, many thanks to each and everyone of you Sarnie makers for playing along and helping to make my event happen! MWHA!!! You're all winners in my books!

Monday, 29 October 2007

A Real Challenge

The clocks went ahead an hour on Saturday night. Now, I am not quite such a young dog any more and as an older dog (you'll note I didn't say OLD) I don't take as kindly or as well to new tricks as I used to, and so these time changes in the spring and the autumn really are difficult for me to adjust to. I was up at 4 o'clock yesterday morning . . . and falling asleep in my soup by seven o'clock last night! I couldn't go to bed then however, and so managed to keep myself awake until about nine. I had just crawled into bed and was snuggling down into my blankets when all of a sudden my eyes flew wide open and I was wide awake!

"Oh no!" I exclaimed to my Todd, who was sitting next to my prone shape in bed, reading a book.

"What now?" he asked, in an oh my goodness, whatever is up with her now sort of a way, hoping with every inch of him that he was not going to have to get out of bed and chase annother housefly or wasp or crane fly around the bedroom.

"I was supposed to do something today, and I totally forgot!" was my reply as I sat up in bed and started to put my slippers back on.

"Well, you better get on with it." was his reply. No need to question the what's, why's or wherefore's, as he knows me all too well by now!

It had suddenly occurred to me, or so I thought, that I had missed posting my challenge for the Daring Bakers! (An online group of food bloggers who rise to meet a different and interesting baking challenge each and every month.) I had anxiously been waiting for several months to join this elete group, and now here I'd gone and missed my very first challenge post!!! I bounded down the stairs and turned the computer on, only to realize, once I had it on, that I was not late for the challenge, but indeed a day early! Yesterday was only the 28th of October, not the 29th!Whew! What a relief! I turned the computer off and went back upstairs to bed. After I told Todd what I had done, he only shook his head. Like I said . . . he knows me all too well by now!

I was so excited at the beginning of this month to finally be admitted to the Daring Bakers! I had been trolling food blogs for quite some time now and reading about their various baking exploits and wanting to join in on all the fun! Last month I finally screwed up all my courage and asked to join. Thankfully, they let me in! I could hardly wait for the newest challenge so I could get stuck in.

This month's Daring Baker challenge was hosted by Mary of Alpineberry , who not only hosted the challenge this month, but is also one of the administrators and hosts of the Daring Bakers altogether! For the challenge this month she presented us with "Bostini Cream Pie", a delicious twist on an old favourite of mine, Boston Cream Pie. I was so excited when I read the challenge as I love Boston Cream Pie and how could something with such a cute name and something that was based on such a delicious dessert not be fabulous! What a perfect way to introduce it to my British Husband, whom up til now had only ever associated the word Boston with the Boston Tea party and the ultimate defeat of the British War machine.

Mmmm... a delicious creamy custard topped with a lovely orange flavoured light chiffon cake and a tempting drizzle of rich chocolate sauce on top. What's not to like about this one???

Because there are only two of us, I decided to cut the recipe for the custard in half. I have made custard thousands of times in my culinary careeer, and quite successfully. The trick to making a good custard is not to let it boil, and not to overcook it, so that it becomes a creamy sauce and not scrambled eggs. You must be very careful to keep it at a simmer and just bring it to the boiling point, without letting it tip over. I carefully divided the recipe in two and began measuring as precisely as I could.

Was I pleased with the results? Not exactly. I felt the resulting custard was quite thin, and I did cook it for quite a long time. I didn't want to cook it any longer than I did, as then it would have turned into scrambled egg. I had opted to use Vanilla Bean paste so it did have a lovely vanilla flavour and was not bland in any way. I don't think I would use this custard recipe again though, as I do have other's that probably have more flavour and substance.

I decided to bake the full recipe of the cake, as I had learned from previous experiences in baking, that cutting cake recipes in half rarely gives the baker successful results. Besides, what person on earth can not find a use for extra cake!!!! The cake turned out lovely, although I do think that I baked it in a pan that was a tad too large. It was not as thick as I would have hoped it to be. I didn't have enough custard cups to bake individual ones, and so I had opted to bake it in an oblong pan, and then cut it into the shapes and sizes I needed afterwards. It did have a lovely flavour though and a beautiful light texture. There was just a slight hint of orange flavour running through it, that we all know goes so very well with chocolate.

The next challenge came when I set the cake that I had carefully cut out, on top of the custard that I had lovingly poured into individual bowls. ( all different as you can clearly see!) The custard was so thin and lacking in substance that the cake immediately began to sink down into it.

What to do, what to do . . . I immediately came up with the idea to cut out another piece of cake the same size and plop it right on top. Besides, I surmised, once the chocolate was drizzled over top, nobody would be able to tell it was two pieces of cake and not just one! WRONG!!! The top cake slid over the bottom one and off somewhat at an angle, so that it ended up looking a bit like the steps leading in to an abbey.

I then tried taking two pieces of cake and stacking them on top of each other in another small bowl, without the custard. Only after I had them stabilized, did I begin to spoon the custard around them. Once I had drizzled the rich chocolate sauce over top, you could not really tell it was two pieces of cake, unless you looked really closely. It was a bit too tall though in my opinion, or was I just being too pedantic?

Was this challenge a success for me? Not entirely, but neither was it an unmitigated failure either! It was fun and I think I learned a few new things in the process. It was certainly a delicious experience, even if it didn't turn out exactly the way I had wanted it to!

You can find the recipe here on Mary's post if you'd like to try the challenge out yourself. In the meantime I am off to drool over and peruse over 200 other attempts at the same delicious dessert!!!

Ahhh.... soooo many cakes .... soooo little time ...

Wednesday, 24 October 2007


I've had some requests to sort out the measuring problems that some of you are having in understanding the difference between British and American measures and converting them, so I am posting a handy list here for future reference! Hope this helps!

Converting British weights and measures to American
There are sometimes significant differences between the measures used for ingredients in British and American recipes. For example a British standard tablespoon holds 17.7ml while the American tablespoon has a 14.2 ml capacity. Similarly a British pint measures 20 fluid ounces while an American pint is just 16 fluid ounces. The standard American measuring cups sold here in the UK are one 4 ounce cup and smaller, Many American recipes use an 8 ounce (two cup) as a basis for measuring recipe ingredients. Bear in mind that the same cup measures differently for liquid and dry, depending on the weight of the ingredient, i.e. flour, breadcrumbs and oatmeal will be 4 oz, (110 g), but sugar, butter, dried fruit, chopped vegetables, syrup etc., will weigh differently. The listings below should enable recipes to be successfully made by American cooks. The only advice I would offer, having spent hours trawling websites and reading through books for factual information, hints and tips, is, to be consistent, never mix imperial, metric or cup measures in one recipe, If you use the same measuring system throughout, your dishes should work out correctly. If in doubt, weighing is still the most reliable and much preferred method to use, even by many American cooks. Purchasing a good set of balance scales with either metric or imperial weights, really will eliminate any guesswork and give good, consistent results every time.

Helpful measurement conversions.

British = American
1 teaspoon = 1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon = 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons = 3 tablespoons
3.5 tablespoons = 4 tablespoons
4 tablespoons = 5 tablespoons

Solid measures
Using the one-cup standard measure as sold here in the UK (NB: Please remember to alter the amount for your own recipe):-

British = American
1lb (450g) butter or margarine = 2 cups (or four sticks).
1lb (450g) flour = 4 cups.
1lb 450 g, granulated or caster, (superfine), sugar = 2 cups.
1lb 450 g, icing sugar (confectioners' sugar) = 3 cups.
4 oz, 110 g, icing sugar, (confectioner's sugar), = half a cup plus a heaped tbsp.
8 oz, 225 g, flour = 2 cups.4 oz,
110 g, flour, = 1 cup.8 oz,
225 g, breadcrumbs = 2 cups.4 oz,
110 g, breadcrumbs. = 1 cup.8 oz,
225 g, oatmeal = 2 cups.
4 oz, 110 g, oatmeal = 1 cup.
8 oz, 225 g, grated cheese = 2 cups.
4 oz, 110 g, grated cheese = 1 cup.
8 oz, 225 g, butter, margarine, or shortening = one cup (or two sticks).
4 oz, 110 g, butter, margarine, or shortening = half a cup (or one stick).
2 oz, 50 g, butter, margarine or shortening = a quarter of a cup (or half a stick).
4 oz, 110 g, dried mixed fruit, (fruitcake mix) = 2-thirds of a cup.
2 oz, 50 g, dried mixed fruit, (fruit cake mix) = one-third of a cup.
8 oz, 225 g, brown sugar = 1 cup.
4 oz, 110 g, brown sugar = half a cup
3 oz, 75 g, plain, (semi-sweet) chocolate, broken into squares = 3-quarters of a cup.
4 oz, 110 g, whole hazelnuts = 1 cup.
2 oz, 50 g, flaked, (slivered) almonds = half a cup.
4 oz, 110 g, ground almonds = 1 cup.

Useful teaspoon measures.
1 oz, 25 g, is one heaped or heaping, tbsp of flour, oatmeal, cheese, breadcrumbs, or icing, confectioners grade, sugar.

1 oz, 25 g, is 1 rounded tbsp, of granulated or caster, superfine, sugar.

1 oz, 25 g, is 2 level tbsp of butter, margarine or shortening.

Liquid Measures

British = American
half a tsp, 2.5 ml. = half a tsp,
2.5 ml.1 tsp, 5 ml. = 1 tsp,
5 ml.1 average tbsp,
15 ml. = 1 average tbsp,
15 ml.A quarter of a pint,
150 ml. = Two thirds of a cup.
120 ml, 4 fl.oz, = half a cup.
Half a pint, 275 ml,
8 fl.oz, = A generous 1 cup.
Three-quarters of a pint, 425 ml. = Two cups
1 pint, 570 ml. = Two and a half cups.
One and a half pints, approx. 840 ml. = Three and three-quarter cups.
1 and 3-quarter pints, 1 litre, = 4 and a half cups.
2 pints = 5 cups.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Down From Hand to Hand, Apples & Thyme

Inge of Vanielje Kitchen and Jeni from The Passionate Palate are hosting a beautiful Blog Event until the 10th of November. It's called Apples & Thyme ~ a celebration of mothers and grandmothers and time spent with with them in the kitchen . I was very excited when I found out about it as I am a real family type of person, and the women in my family have always been very important to me.

I'm very lucky in that I have been given photos through the years of various Great Grandmother's and Great Aunts and Aunts and I was old enough before most of them passed on, that I can remember them fairly well. All except for my Great Great Grandmother that is.

My Great Great Grandmother was a woman named Ida McNayr Smith. Her grandfather had emmigrated to Nova Scotia from Scotland as a young boy of 8 and become a Blacksmith there. Those were harsh times in a very rural, wild and young country. A lot of the recipes in my family have been handed down from those harsh times and incorporate very simple ingredients. Living in wilderness meant lots of hard work. Houses had to be built, land had to be cleared, food had to be grown and hunted. There was not a lot of time for what they might have deemed as "fancy" cookery, nor was there the availability of fancy ingredients. Life was harshest of all for the Scots who settled in Nova Scotia. The French had been able to make friends with the native Indians living there, called the Micmacs. The English and the Germans received rations, weapons and tools from the British Goverment. The New Englanders or Loyalists that came up during the American Revolution arrived armed with a knowledgeable experience of colonial life.

The Scots, however arrived poverty stricken, having been driven from their lands by the fall of the Clan system and the outrageously high rents imposed on them by landlords. They had no money and few personal effects, other than the clothing they wore. They were also highly un-educated and had the added disadvantage of not being accustomed to the type of land they were now faced in clearing and making their lives upon. They were a hardy lot though and determined and so they accepted the challenges set before them and thrived. I come from such stock as this.

My Grandmother, Nina Best was the Grand-daughter of Ida McNayr Smith. She, too, was a strong and determined woman. Bringing up a family during the Great Depression when employment was scarce, and money in short supply, meant hardship and economy on a grand scale. There was no place for "fancy" cookery or meals in those days either. This is the only picture I have of my grandmother. She was a very shy woman, and, even in this picture, she has her face buried in her breast.

I loved my Grandmother Nina more than words could ever say. She died when I was only six years old but, for the first year of my life I had lived with her. I was a very difficult baby and being my mother's first, she was a very nervous mother and could not cope with me, and so I was taken to my grandmother's loving arms very early on in my life. I stayed there until I was much older and my mother past her nervousness, but that first year of my life, spent in her tender care, forged a bond with my grandmother that I don't think any of the other grandchildren ever had.

I have loving and warm memories of cuddling into her lap and snuggling into her ample bosom. I can still smell her warmth. She smelled like spice and woodsmoke ... she smelled like love. She would sing to me lovely songs and I can still hear her shy voice whispering in my ear how much she loved me and cared for me. She was a fantastic cook. My mother can tell stories of wonderful meals prepared by her mother's loving hands and how good everything always tasted. She used to make wonderful soups and stews, beautiful fluffy loaves of bread, flaky pies filled with lovely fruit and meat fillings. My mother says that when she trys to cook the meals her mother prepared, they never taste the same somehow. . . but that is the way it always seems to go.

My own mother was not a fancy cook either. My dad didn't like a lot of spice in things and so she was never allowed to let her flights of fancy take hold or to explore her culinary fantasies to any great degree. She was a good cook though. Her home Baked Beans were legendary, as was her Pea and Ham Soup. Somehow mine never taste quite the same . . . not sure what the missing ingredient is, but I expect that oftimes things get built up in our memories and minds so much that we can never hope to replicate them in reality.

So it is with these cookies. This is a Molasses Cookie recipe that has been handed down generation to generation. My mom says her's never taste as good as her mother's did and mine, of course, do not taste as good as my memory of my mother's. I suspect that they all taste exactly the same, and that it is the memories of a mother's loving ministrations that make the difference. My own daughters will probably say the same about mine . . . love is the secret ingredient.

When I first got this recipe it was scribbled on the back of an envelope in my grandmother's un-educated scrawl in pencil that was beginning to fade quickly. She used to use rendered bacon fat in these, but one can scarcely afford the risk to one's health or cholesterol these days to be so indulgent! Oven temperatures were not given, nor were directions. Those I had to figure out by myself. Here is my interpretation of the "family" cookie. Simple and plain, wholesome and good. These are the stuff that dreams are made of . . .

*Grammy Woodworth's Molasses Cookies*
Makes approximately 4 dozen

Handed down through four generations of women in my family, this is the cookie that would have always held place of pride in the larder. Wonderfully fragrant when they were baking, a couple of these and a tall glass of cold milk were a special treat for us children after school on a cold winter's day.

1 cup sugar
1 cup mild molasses
1 cup of hot melted vegetable shortening
(my grandmother used rendered bacon fat)
2 medium eggs
3 heaping teaspoons of ground ginger
1 tsp salt
4 teaspoons of baking soda, stirred into 1/2 cup of hot water
enough flour to make a stiff dough (approximately 4 - 5 cups)

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/375*F. Lightly grease several baking sheets and set aside.

Put the sugar and the molasses into a large bowl. Pour the hot fat over them and mix it all together very well. Allow it to cool until it is just warm to the touch and then beat in the eggs. Mix in the ginger and the salt, along with the water and soda. Stir in the flour a little at a time until it is all incorporated. No amount of flour was given in the original recipe but I find that it ranges anywheres between 4 and 5 cups. This seems to depend on the weather and humidity. Some days 4 cups is enough and others I need more. You need a dough that is pliable without being sticky.

Dust the counter with some flour and roll out the dough with a floured rolling pin to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a floured 3 1/2 inch fluted cookie cutter. Place onto the greased baking sheets, leaving 2 inches of space in between each. Gather the scraps and re-roll until all the dough is used up. Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until dry to the touch and lightly browned on the bottom. Don't overbake. They should be nice and soft to the bite. Delicious!

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Show Us Your Sarnie, the Round Up!

What a lovely bunch of entries I got for my "Show Me Your Sarnie" sandwich event. I was most impressed with all of the entries!

Julie of Tulips Kitchen graced us with not one, but two delicious looking entries!

Her first one a delicious looking Bacon and Egg Sarnie that had me drooling from the moment I saw it!

Her second entry was a delicious looking Sarnie she called a Magny-Cour Special, in honor of the French Grand prix. It’s made in a French baguette with Italian salami, brie cheese, cherry tomato and wild rocket! You sure know how to tingle our tastebuds Julie!

Next came a delicious entry from Blue Zebra of Mulligan Stew Me

What a delicious looking Chili Dog that is, and made with authentic Texas Chili as well! It's got all my Sarnie Senses tingling!

Next Jenna of Corgi Pants sent me this delicious looking sandwich photo of a sandwich she had made for a sandwich event at her work!

She calls it a "Delectable Grilled Cheese," and I would have to say that this picture proves that it truly is "Delectable" indeed!

Marye of Apron Strings was next with her delicious entry

Ham and Apricot Roll Ups
! Wow, I was drooling over it at first glance!

The lovely Tracy of Pink Purl hopped in all the way from Norway with her tantalizing entry!

A delicious "Lancaster Sarnie" composed of thin sliced pear, blue cheese and mango chutney, sandwiched between two slices of walnut bread, making for a surprising and exciting taste sensation! Way to go Tracy!

Next up Inge of Vanielje Kitchen who sent in this wonderful creation!

A lucious looking Toasted Serrano, Wigmore and Strawberry Sandwich . Inge that is one tasty looking mouthful!!!

Liz from The Baker and the Curry Maker sent us this delicious looking creation.

That certainly is "The Best Chicken Sandwich" I have seen in a very long time. I sure would love to be able to sink my teeth into one of those right now!

Kevin of Closet Cooking tempted my tastebuds with this wonderful creation

His lovely looking Croque Monsieur with Pear and Smoked Turkey proves to us once and for all that Canucks are no slouches in the kitchen!

Sarah from What Smells So Good sent us this next delicious looking entry!

What a lovely way to use up your leftover thanksgiving turkey! Thanksgiving Afters Sandwich made with her very own homemade Cranberry Wheat Bread. You amaze me Sarah!

Tiger Fish from Teczcape - An Escape To Good Food was next up with this beautiful looking entry.

Kaya sandwich toast - coconut jam and butter, a perfect pair! That looks like a very hard to resist combination Tigerfish! Mmmm..... coconut jam . . . . makes me wish I had an oriental deli close by!

Next up is Kelly from Sass and Veracity .

Her entry, a "So Cal Sarnie: Roasted Veggies & Goat's Cheese with Arugula on Ciabatta" looks almost impossible to resist!!!

Lis of La Mia Cucina almost sent me into ecstacy with her entry, but then she often does with the food porn on her page,

She calls this wonderful creation "The Chicken Griddler" and it's enough to make anyone dust off their panini grill and break out into cold sweat in anticipation!

Finally Kaykat from Cooking From A to Z sent this wonderful entry in to tease and tempt my tastebuds!

Delicious looking and very tempting Black Bean Burgers!

So there you have it, My Show Us Your Sarnie Roundup! What a lovely bunch of entries. I think I gained ten pounds just from looking at all these pictures and writing about them! If there isn't something there to tickle your tastebuds there's something wrong with you!

Now, don't forget to register your vote for your favourite in the comments section of this post. Remember there are three great prizes up for grabs!!! Don't despair if you haven't gotten your entry in just yet. You do have until midnight tonight. I can always add your entry in the morning! Let the voting begin!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

It's not a Ghost

I was quite surprised the first time I saw a white squirrel. I had never known such a thing existed. How naieve of me!

We were in the car, on our way to church one Sunday morning, and we saw one run across the road. I couldn't believe my eyes! I was, quite simply, amazed. It was quite fool hardy of it to be running across the road like that, but then again, squirrels are quite fool hardy anyways!

I was thrilled to find out just recently, that we now had one here where I live. For several months now, it's been seen by quite a few people, however elusive it's been to me.

I have looked many times for it, but have never seen it. It seems to go into hiding whenever I'm around I guess...

A friend of ours even managed to take all these photos one afternoon from their car. He very generously sent them to me via the e-mail so that I could share them with you. He said that the squirrel at one point was crouching on the branch as if to hide, but of course, when you are that white, how can you hide? He sticks out like a sore thumb!

I know that one of these days I will finally see the elusive white squirrel, and when I do, I hope that my camera is at the ready. I so dearly would love to see him myself.

Todd and I toy with the idea of becoming Vegetarian all the time. If it wasn't for the fact that I love a good steak once in a while, and the memory of my mom's home cooked turkey dinners sends me in to ecstacy, we probably would have switched entirely already. We do try to eat meat sparingly though.

The local grocery shop has been filled with a new crop of early Brussels Sprouts. I really love them and they taste so good this time of year. I made a lovely Brussels Sprout ragout for dinner last Saturday night. It was delicious, and even Todd really enjoyed it, although I'm afraid it didn't agree with him throughout the night, (sleep is blissful unawareness) so much so that he was worried about getting up into the pulpit Sunday morning. All his fears were for naught though . . . thankfully.

*Brussels Sprout and Mushroom Ragout With Herby Dumplings*
serves 4

This really is special and can make a brussels sprout lover out of even the most die hard hater of the lovely little green gems! You needn't use large onions actually. I like to use shallots, sliced in half. It is well worth the effort of making your own mushroom stock. It tastes so much better than store bought and you can control the amount of salt in it better. I love the little herby dumplings on top! They are like the icing on the cake and, as we all know, cake with icing is always better!

Mushroom stock (see recipe below)
4 tsp olive oil
2 medium to large onions, peeled and sliced about 1/2 inch thick, or half a dozen or so small shallots peeled and trimmed, and cut in half
3/4 pound of fresh mushrooms, a mixture of crimini and white button ones works well
(Wipe clean, trim and slice thickly)
3 TBS chopped flat leaf parsley (fresh)
1 TBS chopped tarragon (fresh)
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and minced
the juice of 1/2 large lemon
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved or quartered if large

For the Herby Dumplings:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup milk, heated with 3 TBS butter
3 TBS minced fresh flat leaf parsley and tarragon, mixed
1 large egg

Make the mushroom stock, and once it is simmering bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Drop in the brussels sprouts and cook until nearly tender, about 4 to 6 minutes at most. Drain and then set them aside until needed.

Heat the oil in a large deep nonstick skillet. Add the onions or shallots and cook them over medium heat until they are nicely fragrant and nicely coloured, about 12 minutes or so, giving them an occasional stir.

While you are cooking the onions, chop the herbs and garlic, and slice the mushrooms. Once the onions are a rich colour, increase the heat to high and add the mushrooms, herbs and garlic to the pan. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over top and cook until the mushrooms are golden brown in places. Reduce the heat to low and add the sprouts and mushroom stock.

For the dumplings, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Pour in the milk, herbs and egg and stir quickly together with a fork. Drop by small spoonfuls on top of the simmering ragout. You only want 12 small dumplings. You will have extra batter, but don't be tempted to use it or your ragout will be too bready. This is one of those times whereby you just can't cut the recipe in half and the full amount is just to much. (Just close your eyes and tip the rest down the drain . . .)

Cover the pan with a lid and steam the dumplings for 10 minutes or until done. (they should be cooked through and dry on top) Serve the hot ragout in soup plates with three dumplings in each bowl. Delicious!

*Mushroom Stock*
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 far clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 fresh mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped
2 tsp tomato puree (paste)
1 TBS chopped fresh marjoram ( 1 tsp dried)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 TBS plain flour
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the dried mushrooms in a large beaker and cover with 3 cups of boiling water. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the vegetables and saute, stirring occasionally until they are well browned and aromatic. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the flour. Add the tomato paste, marjoram and wine. Once it has reduced to a syrupy consistency add the porcini and their soaking water. Season with about 1/2 tsp of salt and a little pepper. Simmer for about 2o minutes before straining to use. You may also freeze the strained stock.