22 August, 2015

Skilly 'n' Duff

Skilly 'n' Duff is actually something sailors would truly make long ago. Traditionally, it was a steamed dumpling that would take four to five hours to cook. I don't have that much patience, so I made a simplified recipe. It still takes about an hour and a half to make, but that's more reasonable and it's worth it. I used blackberries and plums, which were mentioned in the book Marlfox, but feel free to use your favorite fruits. You also could replace the mashed berries with jam of any flavor.

Skilly 'n' Duff

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 servings


  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup blackberries
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 plums

  1. Sift together the flour, sugar, and baking soda.
  2. Mash the blackberries until smooth.
  3. Pour the milk and water into the blackberries and mix well.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. (I realize that at this point the batter has turned an unfortunate grey color. I promise it improves).
  5. Chop or finely dice the plums (based on your personal chunkyness preference) and mix into the batter.
  6. Place eight four-ounce ramekins into a saucepan with a lid and add water to the saucepan until it reaches halfway up the ramekins. (I couldn't fit all eight, so I split them among two saucepans)
  7. Pour the batter evenly into the eight ramekins and heat the saucepans on the stove over low heat. 
  8. Once the water begins to simmer, cover the saucepans and allow the batter to steam for about an hour, or until a toothpick comes out of the center mostly clean.
  9. These can be served warm or cold. If serving cold, remove the ramekins from the hot water and allow them to come to room temperature before covering and refrigerating, otherwise condensation will cause them to become soggy.
  10. If desired, top with meadowcream.  

15 August, 2015


Meadowcream is, of course, mentioned in every single Redwall book. It was one of many things which had me constantly licking my lips and wishing I had a snack. A sweet snack, covered in meadowcream. The description of meadowcream, however, was practically non-existent. After much reading, I eventually decided that meadowcream should be a sweet, thick, creamy sauce that has the potential to be whipped into a whipped-cream like state, though it doesn't necessarily need to be. This is what came to mind.


Cook time: 10 minutes
Cool time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Yield: One pint

  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk (my meadowcream is off-white because I used soymilk, but the recipe should work with any milk or milk alternative)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract


  1. Whisk together cornstarch and milk in a small saucepan until dissolved and free of clumps.
  2. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 6-10 minutes or until thickened.
  4. Pour into a jar, cover, and refrigerate until chilled. 
  5. If you want to whip your meadowcream, pour it into a chilled metal bowl and whip with a stand or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. The peaks will not hold forever, so whip immediately before using. 

08 August, 2015

Grayling a la Redwall

Grayling a la Redwall is the first food item we're really introduced to in the Redwall series as Friar Hugo stalks off to the kitchen, shouting instructions and ingredients. I was a little nervous about attempting it, since it's the first real non-baked-good thing I've tried, but it came out marvelously. According to Wikipedia, grayling is a type of salmon, so I've used fresh salmon from my local grocery store. I also was unable to find beechnuts, which I was hoping to use as a garnish. Other than that, this recipe is as true to Friar Hugo's instructions as I could make it.

A quick note: I live alone and don't eat very much, so I made the sauce the first night and thawed individual fillets to bake in my toaster oven each night. If you have enough people to cook a pound or more of salmon at once in the oven, I certainly recommend that route. However, if you are in my position and don't want a bunch of fish leftovers to go bad, this method works quite well. You can even bake the fillets straight from the freezer; just increase cooking time to about 40 minutes and check that it flakes properly before pouring over the sauce.

Grayling a la Redwall

Cook time (fish): 20 minutes
Cook time (sauce): 15 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes if you are a good multitasker.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1.5 pounds salmon (cut into 6 fillets)
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp butter (divided)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half 

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Lay out a large piece of parchment paper. Cover with rosemary and thyme and lay fish over herbs.
  3. Cut 1 tablespoon butter into small pieces and distribute over the fish. Gather paper into a packet and bake for 25 minutes or until salmon flakes easily.
  4. Meanwhile, melt remaining tablespoon of butter in a saucepan. Add oil and garlic and cook until fragrant.
  5. Add wine and stock, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add mint, honey, and half-and-half, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  7. Pour sauce over fish and serve. Garnish with nuts if using. 

01 August, 2015

Blackberry Jam

I promise this will be the last berry jam/sauce recipe for the season. However, there's this lovely, short space of the year when blackberries and raspberries are in season together and I had to take advantage. This is a fast, no-sugar-added jam, but if it's not sweet enough for you feel free to add some sugar at the end, before you refrigerate.

Blackberry Jam

Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 cup of jam


  • 3/4 cup blackberries
  • 3/4 cup raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  1. Place berries in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir slowly but constantly.
  2. When the raspberries have broken down into liquid, sprinkle in the cornstarch. Stir quickly to prevent clumping. This works best if you sift the cornstarch into the pot. (Sorry for the terrible photo; my camera was struggling with the steam.)
  3. Continue stirring until the blackberries have broken down and the liquid has begun to thicken. (Taste it here. If you want to add sugar, do it now and continue to heat and stir until dissolved.)
  4. Pour jam into a jar and refrigerate. It will continue to thicken as it cools. 

25 July, 2015

Carrot and Mushroom Bake

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you just knew you wouldn't have time to cook? That was me this past week. This recipe, from Triss, is probably more suited to a cold winter's night, but it was quick and easy and made enough that I decided to go for it so I could reheat leftovers all week. All in all, I found it to be quite delicious and simple, with little hands-on time compared to some casseroles.

Carrot and Mushroom Bake

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Yield: 10 servings as a side dish or 6 as an entree with sides


  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 pound carrots, shredded
  • 2 cups whole-wheat bread crumbs, divided
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add onion and saute about 5 minutes, or until starting to brown.
  3. Add mushrooms and garlic to the skillet and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Drain any water the mushrooms sweat.
  4. Add spices, carrots, and 1 cup of the breadcrumbs to the skillet and mix well.
  5. Pour the warm mixture into a 9x13 baking pan and top with the remaining cup of bread crumbs.
  6. Top with the shredded cheese, then bake for 40 minutes.

18 July, 2015

Raspberry Sauce

Raspberry sauce was mentioned in many of the Redwall books, usually when somebody was in the process of pouring it over something else. I decided to try it out. This is great poured over just about anything: cake, ice cream, chocolate, spooned out of the saucepan...ok, that last one was a little extreme, but I had about half a tablespoon I couldn't fit into my mason jars and I had to do something with it...

Raspberry Sauce

Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes

Yield: about a pint of sauce

  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup water

  1. Combine raspberries, sugar, and juice in a saucepan.
  2. Whisk together the cornstarch and water until dissolved.
  3. Add that to the saucepan as well.
  4. Simmer for five minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken.
  5. Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce until uniformly smooth.
  6. Simmer an additional two minutes to thicken further, then strain if desired to remove seeds.

11 July, 2015

Mint tea

Mint tea is an interesting beast. It can easily be enjoyed hot on a cold winter night or cold on a warm summer afternoon. It's also remarkably simple and inexpensive to make -- no need to buy teabags or leaves. If you have mint growing nearby, it can even be free to make.

Mint Tea

Cook time: 1 minute
Steep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 6 minutes

Yield: Any amount you wish


  • Water
  • Fresh mint leaves -- I recommend one leaf (one-inch or larger) per ounce of water, but you can easily add more if you want a strong flavor

  1. Put your leaves in a vessel, such as your mug or a pitcher. I put them in a bowl because my mugs are very dark and the leaves weren't visible in the pictures.
  2. Heat water. You can place it in your microwave on the "beverage setting," run it through a coffee machine with the filter removed, or heat it in a kettle or on the stove.
  3. Pour the water over the leaves. They may blacken in spots from the heat, but don't worry. It won't affect anything.
  4. Let the leaves steep for five minutes.
  5. Use a fork to fish the leaves out of the water. 
  6. CAREFULLY, squeeze out the leaves over the water. This is a very important step and you'll notice the water you squeeze out will be significantly darker than the water left in your vessel. This is all the minty goodness you're squeezing out.
  7. Mix the water around to distribute the extract.
  8. Enjoy hot or cover and refrigerate until the tea is your desired level of cold.