31 Dec 2007

MINI MASCARPONE AND RASPBERRY TRIFLES


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I'm guessing most of you would rather have a drink in a shot glass
in the lead up to 2008, but I used some of the glasses for these mini trifles.

The original recipe says to use Madeira cake but you could use a couple of trifle sponges and substitute the Cointreau for Disaronno an amaretto liqueur.
A couple of comments about the recipe. It is best to beat the mascarpone well before putting a dollop into the glasses. Also, I wouldn't leave them hanging around too long before serving, otherwise they will start to look a little tired!

I nearly forgot to say - one shot glass of this trifle is more than enough and they taste wonderful.

Olive Magazine - January 2007

Serves: 4

8 tablespoons mascarpone, 1 tablespoon icing sugar, cut 2 slices Madeira cake into small chunks, 100g fresh or frozen raspberries, 1 tablespoon flaked almonds.

1. Beat the mascarpone, icing sugar and 1 tablespoon of the Cointreau in a bowl. Divide the cake between 4 small glasses then drizzle over the rest of the Cointreau and spoon in a layer of mascarpone.
2. Gently crush the raspberries (save some for decoration) then divide between the glasses. Spoon the rest of the mascarpone over.
3. Decorate with raspberries and almonds.

16 Dec 2007

ICED CHRISTMAS CAKE

This years Christmas cake has now been iced with Regalice bought from my local sugarcraft shop. Star shapes have been cut from white icing and topped with gold stars bought from Jane Asher. A sprinkling of magic sparkles, and then to complete the look, a wired gold ribbon has been placed around the outside of the cake to match the gold stars.
The cake decoration is very simple but effective and if you are having difficulty thinking how to decorate your cake without having a nervous breakdown, please feel free to copy my new design!
Please take a look at last years Christmas cake.

8 Dec 2007

NORA'S APPLE PIE


I've made apple pie with so many twists in the past, I think I could write a book. I love apple pie with a top and bottom crust - with more satisfying pastry to eat, but then again......there is lots of apple filling when it is made in a deep dish with just a top crust!
I bought a collection of enamelled plates and dishes several years ago before they became popular with food stylists. If you go to the hardware shop you will be able to pick these up and they are relatively inexpensive.
Nora Sands came to the publics attention through Jamie Oliver's School Dinners Campaign and has now written her own cookery book. There are several tempting recipes - Sticky Messy Ribs, Stir-fry with Oodles of Noodles or how about Choca-block?
There is a section called 'Have you seen these vegetables'? or how about 'Make friends with your vegetables'.
It isn't easy finding time to cook with your children but the recipes in this book are fun, easy to make and it's good, honest family food.
Now, back to the apple pie. The cooking apples and granny smith apples combination worked well or you could use Cox's apples.

The pastry is buttery and crisp - unfortunately it doesn't cut very well without breaking up. Perhaps it would be better if the pastry is gently scored into portions before baking.
I've made this pie several times now and I can't make up my mind whether its the pastry I love, the apples or the cinnamon. Whatever it is, we just love it!

NORA'S DINNERS

ISBN 0007206615 - Page 136

Serves: 4

400g plain flour, pinch of salt, 160g butter, 4 tablespoons cold water, 3 medium cooking apples, 4 granny smith apples, 160g caster sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, small amount of milk for brushing the pastry.
You will need: 23cm round baking dish.

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7.
2. Make the pastry by rubbing the butter into the flour and salt until it looks like breadcrumbs. Sprinkle in the cold water. Bring together to make a ball of dough. Wrap the pastry in cling film and put into the fridge for 20 minutes.
3. Peel and core the apples, slice the apple thinly.
4. Take pastry dough out of the fridge and roll into a circle a little bit bigger than the widest part of your dish. Use the excess pastry to make a rim around the edge of the baking dish. Brush this with cold water.
5. Put the sliced apples into the baking dish. Sprinkle the 160g sugar and the cinnamon over the top of the apples and mix it all in.
6. Lay your rolled pastry over the top and pinch the edges down around the edge of the baking dish. Cut away any excess pastry.
7. With a fork make some holes in the pastry so that the steam from the apples can escape during cooking.
8. Put the pie in the fridge for 20 minutes for the pastry to rest.
9. Brush the top of the pie with milk and sprinkle with a little caster sugar.
10.Bake for 10 minutes then turn the oven down to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 cook for another 30 minutes.
11. Serve with ice cream.

25 Nov 2007

CHICKEN AND VEGETABLE POT ROAST


The weather has been cold, wet and grey. This pot roast will make you feel better just by looking at it. Everyone seems to have a cold at the moment and thinking about cooking is the last thing on your mind. How about trying out some one pot cooking where you just throw everything into the pot and then you needn't even think about putting a saucepan on the hob.
It will take you about 20 minutes to prepare the pot roast and then 1½ to 2 hours later you will have the most amazing chicken meal which is bursting with flavour.
This is soul food and an excellent way to feed a cold.
Seasonal Kitchen is a wonderful book packed full of beautiful photographs and recipes. It is divided into seasons which is very useful and the recipe below comes from the Winter section.

MARIE CLAIRE - SEASONAL KITCHEN
by Michele Cranston

ISBN 9781921259036 - Page 331

Serves: 4-6 (this recipe has been slightly adapted).

1.5kg whole organic chicken, 1½ tablespoons softened butter, 4 slices proscuitto, 2 onions each cut into eight, 2 large carrots,(peeled and cut into chunks), 1 celery stalk (cut into 2cm lengths), 2 leeks (rinsed and sliced into 2cm rounds), 3 potatoes (peeled and cut into chunks), 1 rosemary sprig, 250ml dry white wine, 250ml chicken stock, a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°C/Gas 4.
2. Sit the chicken in a 3 litre casserole dish. rub the butter over the breast of the chicken, then cover with the proscuitto slices.
3. Arrange the vegetables and rosemary around the chicken, and then pour the wine and stock over. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4. Cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and then put the lid on top and bake for 1 to 1½ hours.
5. Remove the casserole dish from the oven and gently move the vegetables around. Using a large spoon, pour some of the juices over the chicken. Leave the lid off and roast for a further 30 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown.
6. Place the chicken on a warm serving platter along with the vegetables.
7. Pour the sauce from the casserole into a gravy skimmer, discard the fat, then pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables.

18 Nov 2007

PEAR AND ALMOND TART WITH CHOCOLATE SAUCE


Jeanne over at Cook Sister is hosting
Waiter, There's Something in My...Topless Tart! I've entered the 'Waiter' challenge several times click here to see my previous entries.
Pears, almonds and chocolate are a divine combination of flavours and on many occasions I have looked at this recipe longingly and waited for the right time to come along to make it. This was now the perfect excuse to indulge!
The book I've taken this recipe from is by food writer Louise Pickford who is a contributor to food magazines such as Delicious. I'm a huge fan of food writers and if you enjoy baking, this book will earn its place on the bookshelf.

FRESH BAKED - Louise Pickford

ISBN 0600613569 - Page 93

Serves: 8

The original recipe suggests making a sweet shortcrust pastry to line the tin but I opted for a basic shortcrust pastry.
Delia's method for baking a pastry case blind is the method I always use and needless to say it's foolproof.

FOR THE PASTRY CASE
225g plain flour, 50g butter, 50g lard, approximately 3 tablespoons cold water.
Make in the usual way and put in the fridge for 30 minutes. Roll out and line a 25cm
flan tin. Prick the base with a fork and chill for a further 30 minutes. Bake blind in a preheated oven, 190°C(375°F) Gas Mark 5.
Leave the cooked pastry case to cool completely.

FOR THE FILLING
125g butter (softened), 125g caster sugar, 125g ground almonds, 2 eggs lightly beaten, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 ripe pears (peeled, cored and thickly sliced), 25g flaked almonds.

1. Beat the butter, sugar and ground almonds together until smooth and then beat in the eggs and lemon juice.
2. Arrange the pear slices over the pastry case and carefully spread over the almond cream. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden and firm to the touch.
3. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
4. Dust the tart with icing sugar and serve in wedges with the chocolate sauce and some vanilla ice cream.

FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE
100g dark chocolate chopped, 50g unsalted butter (diced), 1 tablespoon golden syrup.

Put the chocolate, butter and syrup in a small bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water and stir until melted. Leave to cool slightly.

11 Nov 2007

MARINATED RED ONION, SPINACH AND PINE NUT SALAD


Although at this time of the year we turn our thoughts to comfort food, I try to eat some lighter meals midweek. Christmas is only a few weeks away and I start to think of all of those extra calories eaten over such a short time. If the pounds pile on now in the run up to Christmas, then the problem becomes greater over the festive period.

If I eat sensibly then I don't have any weight issues, but unfortunately, that isn't the case with my husband, who just has to look at food and seems to be able to put on the pounds!

After cooking Pasta with Spinach and Cherry Tomatoes I had lots of spinach left and so this salad was made and I served it with a savoury tart.


OLIVE MAGAZINE - August 2007

Serves: 4

Marinating the onions gives them a lovely sweet and sour flavour and takes away some of the rawness.

1 red onion (halved and sliced), 1 tbsp caster sugar, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 100g young spinach, 4 tbsp toasted pine nuts, olive oil, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 150ml natural yoghurt .

1. Put the red onion in a bowl and toss with the sugar and vinegar. Leave for 10-15 minutes to soften. Put the spinach in a large serving dish. Drain the onions then scatter over the spinach with the pine nuts.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the cumin seeds. When they start to pop, take off the heat and stir into the yoghurt. Drizzle over the salad and serve.

5 Nov 2007

‘Tipsy Blackberry & Apple Cupcakes’
‘Jane Asher Home Baker of the Year 2007

Linda has kindly accepted my invitation to write a 'Guest Posting' for my foodblog. I know that you will enjoy reading all about her very exciting day when she entered the above competition. Her cupcakes look amazing and I couldn't resist asking if she would share this wonderful day, photographs and recipe with us. A truly deserved winner!


Margaret has kindly invited me to do a Guest Posting as I have recently had the great honour of being crowned ‘The Jane Asher Home Baker of the Year Competition 2007'.

I entered the competition online (3 hours before the competition closed). I love creating new recipes and wanted to come up with something that was seasonal, tasty & original.

After an overnight stay at a smart London hotel, hubby, myself and the four other finalists & guests were whisked away to the Good Housekeeping Institute in London for the bake-off. Meeting everyone involved was very exciting - though waiting to start was quite nerve-wracking as I was unsure about using a different oven. As soon as I started baking the nerves melted away, the oven was nowhere near as fierce as mine so I had to whack the temperature up. The judges including Jane Asher & Chef Brian Turner chatted to us whilst we were adding the finishing touches to our recipes. Our cakes were then whisked away to be judged. We then relaxed with our guests & journalists whilst enjoying a lovely champagne buffet. Soon after, we were ushered into the judging room and Jane & each judge spoke about each recipe. When Jane announced my name as the winner I nearly fell over as the competition was very stiff indeed - all the other cakes were truly delicious. My husband’s face was a picture - he was so proud of me. I was literally speechless, overwhelmed & thoroughly chuffed to have won. Along with the title of Home Baker my other prizes were fantastic also. Lots of Jane Asher bake ware, her new book (signed), kitchen textiles, beautiful ceramics & a luxury spa break at the Westin Turnberry Hotel in Scotland. Oh! and a beautiful engraved silver trophy (I get to keep for a year).

I have since appeared in local press, radio (BBC) & television (ITV Anglia) & national magazines. Hubby & I have even been immortalized in a hilarious cartoon in my local Gazette newspaper. I am launching a cookery business in April next year and will make great use of my prizes. I would urge anybody who enjoys baking to enter next year’s competition at www.homebake.co.uk (dates for next year to be announced). Believe me if I can win anyone can. Here’s my recipe if you’d like to give it a go sometime (though it’s a little late for fresh blackberries just now).

‘Tipsy blackberry & apple cupcakes’
Ingredients for cupcakes


225 grams unsalted butter (room temperature)
215 grams golden caster sugar
225 grams self raising flour
4 large free range eggs (very lightly beaten)
1 teaspoon Madagascan vanilla extract
1 – 2 tablespoons milk
2 crisp granny smith apples
large shot of ‘sour apple liqueur’ (Luxardo) or use calvados brandy for an even ‘tipsier’ flavour
10-20 grams golden caster sugar (to taste)

filling & topping
500 - 600ml fresh double cream
300 grams fresh blackberries (reserve 12 blackberries to top cupcakes)
splosh of ‘sour apple liqueur’
10-20 grams caster sugar (to taste – depending on tartness of berries)

You will need a sturdy 12 bun muffin tin lined with 12 muffin cases & a large piping bag with a 15ml plain round nozzle.

For best results make sure the baking ingredients are at room temperature and try not over beat mixture once eggs & flour are added.

method

1. preheat oven to 170-180, gas mark 4 (fan assist 150-160 depending on oven – mine is very fierce so that’s why it seems low temp, adjust accordingly ).
2. peel, chop & gently cook apples, sugar & ‘sour apple liqueur’ in a small covered pan (until very slightly soft). Strain apple and put to one side to cool. Reserve all the lovely apple liquid, as this will be added to whipped cream when cooled.
3. using the same pan put the fresh blackberries, sugar (to taste) & a splosh of ‘sour apple liqueur & cook until ‘jammy’. Leave to cool.
4. in a separate bowl cream butter with wooden spoon adding sugar & vanilla extract beat until light & fluffy.
5. gently mix in the beaten egg & fold sifted flour with a metal spoon.
6. fold cooled apple pieces into cake mixture & add a tablespoon or so of milk if required to ‘slight dropping consistency’ but not too much or apples won’t ‘hold’.
7. using a metal ice cream scoop, spoon mixture into the 12 muffin cases & fill until three quarters full.
8. cook on the middle shelf for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden. Test with skewer. Remove tray from oven & leave for a few minutes. Transfer cupcakes onto wire tray to cool completely.
9. cut out a teaspoon sized piece from top centre of cooled cupcake using a serrated knife. Add a teaspoon of ‘fresh blackberry jam’ into the centre.
10. start to whip the cream (add the reserved ‘apple liquid’ as just as cream begins to thicken). Whisk into soft peaks & just firm enough to pipe. Fill piping bag with cream mixture. Pipe the cupcake with the cream and top with a fresh blackberry.

The cupcakes are best eaten fresh soon after baking. If refrigerated the sponge will become quite ‘dense’ in texture but will still be tasty. © Linda Edmonds Aug 2007

31 Oct 2007

PASTA WITH SPINACH AND CHERRY TOMATOES


I think it's a while now since I posted something that can be cooked quickly. Well I'm making up for it now with this pasta dish that can be rustled up in about 20 minutes.
If only pasta will do, time is short, you need to feed the children plus yourselves with something that is nutritious, filling and colourful then this ticks all of the boxes.
In an ideal world you would need warm sunshine, colourful garden, table and chairs and eat this outside in a large pasta bowl - but Autumn has arrived. This recipe is guaranteed to brighten up a grey day and the good thing is you haven't had to slave over a hot stove!

This is a slightly adapted recipe:

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING - THE COOK'S CLASSIC COMPANION

ISBN 009186366 - Page 291

Serves: 4

400g dried pasta, such as orecchiette or shells, salt and pepper, 45ml olive oil, 2tbsp pine nuts (obviously omit this for very small children), 450g very ripe cherry tomatoes, different coloured ones would be good(halved), 75g spinach or rocket leaves, 50g Parmesan cheese, freshly pared (to serve).

1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente.
2. A few minutes before the pasta will be ready, heat 2 tbsp oil in a large saucepan. Add the pine nuts and cook for 1-2 minutes until golden. Add the tomatoes and cook for barely 1 minute until only just heated through, not disintegrated. (Although I cook mine until they start to break down a little).
3. Save a cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta thoroughly and toss with the remaining olive oil. Add the pasta to the tomatoes, then add the rocket. Carefully stir to mix and heat through. If the pan ingredients seem a little dry add some of the pasta water. Season generously with salt and pepper. Serve immediately topped with plenty of Parmesan shavings.

28 Oct 2007

ICED LEMON CURD LAYER CAKE


Andrew over at SpittoonExtra is hosting
'Waiter There's Something...In My Layered Cake'. All of the 'Waiter' roundups have made wonderful reading, not forgetting the drooling over the photographs.
One of my all time favourite cakes is the Iced Lemon Curd Layer Cake by the trusted Delia Smith - she certainly knows how to bake a good cake and I've enjoyed cooking and eating many of her cakes in the past.


I've got her original Book of Cakes, a paperback, and its literally falling to pieces. Now, that's the sign of a good book!
Perhaps you might think this cake is more suited to Easter time? Well sorry, this is a cake to lift the spirits at any time of the year, perhaps not Christmas though!
To quote Delia 'You couldn't get a more lemony recipe than this; layers of lemon-flavoured sponge, filled with home-made lemon curd and then a lemon icing for the finishing touch. Its wonderful'.
I couldn't have described this cake any better.
If you pop over to her website you will be able to see the recipe.
The only thing I altered was that I made double the quantity of icing for the top of the cake. The quantity given on the original recipe is a little sparse for me.

22 Oct 2007

Thomas the Tank Engine Birthday Cake


I'm having a Thomas birthday cake, aren't I?" said my 2 year old son.  "Yes, of course you are" I said. The pressure and the panic was on.

My initial idea was to do a round cake and then draw a track on the top and get a model Thomas to sit on the track. I went to my local specialist cake decorating shop to see if she had a model Thomas - nothing like that. She did, however, offer me a Thomas shaped cake tin. She explained how I could then cover the cake in fondant and make the Thomas out of fondant and black painting.

I decided to go for it. Did I succeed? Look at the picture and make your own judgement. Personally I'm proud of  this birthday cake. The most nail-biting moment was the unveiling of the cake to my son.
"Wow" he smiled, "I've got a Thomas cake for my birthday."
I did it.

18 Oct 2007

BLACKBERRY AND APPLE CRUMBLE TART


Blackberries from the hedgerows and Bramley apples kindly given to me were the stars of this tart.
Instead of making the usual blackberry and apple crumble I decided upon this recipe from the Woman&Home website.
If you haven't yet discovered their food section you are in for a nice surprise, all of the recipes I've tried are delicious.
You start this tart by making a shortcrust pastry base. A sweet shortcrust is suggested in the recipe, but I made a plain one because the crumble is quite sweet.
The apples and blackberries are cooked until a thick compote is achieved. This is then put onto the cooked pastry base and topped with crumble that has been scented with cinnamon.
Now, I have to confess, this tart was heaven.

Serves: 8 to 10 people.

You will need: A 26cm flan tin with a removable base.

For the pastry case: 200g plain flour, 50g butter, 50g lard, 3 tablespoons of cold water.

For the filling: 800g (about 3 large) Bramley apples, 300g blackberries (fresh or frozen), 50g caster sugar.

For the crumble topping: 150g plain flour, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 100g butter - chilled, 75g caster sugar.

To serve: clotted or softly whipped cream.

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°CFan/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
2. Roll out the pastry and use to line the flan tin. Chill for 30 minutes.
3. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes until pale golden. Remove the beans, then return the tart to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to dry the base.
4. Remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 180°C/160°CFan/350°F/Gas 4.
5. For the filling, peel, core and slice the apples. Place in a saucepan with the blackberries and sugar. Cook over a moderate heat until soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring frequently to prevent the apples from sticking.
6. To make the crumble topping, sift the flour and ground cinnamon into a bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour. Stir in the caster sugar.
7. To assemble the tart, place the apple and blackberry filling in the pre-baked pastry case, spreading the mixture out evenly.
8. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top, but do not press down. Place the tart back in the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving with a generous dollop of clotted or softly whipped fresh cream.

13 Oct 2007

FOUR SEED BREAD


I love bread and making my own with the help of my Panasonic breadmaker is very quick and easy. Often I just use it to make the dough and then shape the bread into rolls etc.
This particular bread is full of wonderful seeds without there being too much crunch.
I find the flour you buy can make a huge difference to the finished loaf and the white strong flour I use is Waitrose very strong Canadian flour and another favourite is Doves Farm organic mixed grain malthouse bread flour.
Obviously, if you are a seasoned breadmaker then perhaps a breadmaking machine may not be for you.


ULTIMATE BREAD MACHINE COOKBOOK by Jennie Shapter

ISBN 1843091844 - Page 90

Makes: 1 loaf

280ml water, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 400g white bread flour, 50g millet flour, 50g wholemeal bread flour (I used 100g mixed grain bread flour instead of the millet flour and the wholemeal flour), 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon easy-blend dried yeast, 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, 1½ tablespoons linseeds, 1½ tablespoons sesame seeds - lightly toasted.

For the Topping: 1 tablespoon milk, 2 tablespoons golden linseeds.
1. Put the yeast into the bread pan. Add the flours, sugar, salt, extra virgin olive oil and water. Or place the ingredients into the bread pan in the order specified for your particular bread machine.
2. Set the bread machine to the raisin dough setting. press start. Add the seeds when the machine beeps to add the extra ingredients or during the last 5 minutes of kneading.
3. When the dough cycle has finished, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knock back gently.
4. Lightly oil a baking sheet (a baking sheet liner placed on the baking sheet is best because the bread tends to stick).
5. Shape the dough into a round flat loaf. Make a hole in the centre with your finger. Gradually enlarge the cavity, turning the dough, until you have a ring.
6. Place the ring onto the baking sheet. Cover it with lightly oiled greaseproof paper and leave it to rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
7. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Brush the top of the bread with milk and sprinkle it with the golden linseeds. Make slashes around the loaf, radiating outwards.
8. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden and hollow-sounding. Turn out on to a wire rack to cool.

TOP TIP: Put the shaped dough on the prepared baking sheet into the oven. Turn the oven temperature to 50°C and put the timer on for 3 minutes (no longer), turn the oven off. Leave the dough in the oven until doubled in size and then cook as above.

8 Oct 2007

FRUIT PASTRY CASES WITH COX'S APPLES



The theme for Sugar High Friday hosted by Andrew over at Spittoon Extra is Drunken Apples. My vine fruits and apples were very happy to have a couple of tablespoons of Calvados poured over them! I was even happier to be the lucky one to get to eat them.
Waitrose October Recipe cards were the inspiration for this event.
On the recipe card it says to use wholesome vine fruit mix, but I had some Waitrose luxury dried fruit left and so used this instead. The 'Wholesome' area in Waitrose is fairly new and the vine fruit mix they suggest looked wonderful, as indeed did all the other goodies on the shelf.
This recipe would be appropriate for the Christmas season, in fact, it felt that I was making and eating it a few weeks too early!

Serves: 4

You will need: A large pot of pouring cream to drizzle over the cases.
125g Waitrose Wholesome Vine Fruit Mix, 2 tablespoons of brandy or Calvados, half a 375g pack chilled ready rolled puff pastry, 25g flaked almonds, 2 Cox's apples, 25g butter, 2 tablespoons dark muscovado sugar, ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 2 tablespoons double cream.

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F/Gas 6. Place the dried fruit in a bowl, add the brandy or Calvados and set aside.
2. Unroll the pastry and cut into 4 rectangles. Put on a baking sheet then score a line 1cm in from the edges of each piece, without pressing all the way through. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove the top layer of loose pastry to make a lid, leaving some on the base. Place on the side of the baking sheet and cook for a further 10 minutes until golden.
3. In a small frying pan, dry-fry the almonds for about a minute until golden, remove from the pan and reserve.
4. Cut the apples into quarters, discard the cores, then thinly slice. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the apple and sprinkle with the sugar and nutmeg. Saute for 4-5 minutes until golden on both sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apple to a plate.
5. Return the pan to the heat and add the mixed fruit and brandy. When syrupy, stir in the cream then spoon into the pastry cases. Top with the apples and scatter over the flaked almonds. Place the pastry lids on each case, dust with icing sugar.
6. Serve with lots of pouring cream.

4 Oct 2007

WELSH LEEK, BACON AND GOAT'S CHEESE TART



This is another recipe from one of my favourite books 'The Book of Old Tarts'. With a title such as that, it would be impossible not to fall in love with this book.
There are several sections to this book: 'Roman Origins and British Tart Baking Before 1700', 'Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Tarts' through to 'Twentieth-Century Tarts'.
With wonderful recipe titles such as A Medieval Tart of Brie, A Sixteenth-century Tart of Flowers and Gooseberry and Marshmallow Lattice Tart - who could resist. Next to each recipe there are a few snippets of history about each tart.
Sometime ago I posted a recipe on here for
'Bilberry Mucky Mouth' Tart which was a dessert made in heaven and because of past successes from this book, I just knew that I wouldn't be disappointed.
The only change I would make to this recipe is that maybe next time, instead of using single cream, I would try double cream.



THE BOOK OF OLD TARTS by Elizabeth Hodder

ISBN 0747221057 - Page 100

Serves: 6-8

225g plain shortcrust pastry. 1 tablespoon, olive oil, 15g butter, 3 leeks - washed, trimmed and thinly sliced, 225g rindless streaky bacon - finely chopped, 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley, salt and freshly ground black pepper, 2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, 425ml single cream, 175g goat's cheese (Welsh, if possible), 55g walnuts - finely chopped, ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg.

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.
2. Line a deep 23cm tart tin with the pastry, place on the heated baking tray and prebake blind for 15 minutes and then remove from the oven and brush with some of the beaten egg and cook for another 5 minutes.
3. Heat the olive oil and butter in a frying pan, add the leeks and fry very gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bacon and continue frying until the leek is soft and the bacon is not quite crisp, stirring occasionally. Add the parsley and season with salt and black pepper. Remove the pan from the heat.
4. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, egg yolk and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Break up the goats cheese into small pieces.
5. Put the walnuts in the base of the pre-baked pastry case. Spoon in the leek, bacon and parsley mixture, add the goat's cheese and finally pour in the cream mixture. Sprinkle the surface with the nutmeg. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the tart looks set and the cheese is nicely browned.

30 Sep 2007

STICKY TOFFEE AND BANANA PUDDING


Woman&Home magazine have just brought out the Autumn 2007 Feel Good Food supplement and it's bursting with wonderful recipes, of which this is one.
Most pudding lovers enjoy sticky toffee pudding. The unusual ingredient in this particular recipe is the addition of chopped banana to the cake batter mix.
The bananas may be good for you, but I'm not sure about the rest of the pudding!
Unlike sticky toffee pudding, this has its own topping of golden syrup that has been poured into the base of the ramekins and then the cake batter mix is added.
When you put your spoon into the cooked pudding you come across the chopped banana pieces.
The custard recipe asked for 45g of caster sugar to a liquid measurement of 175ml. I knew this would be tooth achingly sweet and so I reduced the caster sugar to 20g, but this is obviously one of taste. The custard was chilled before serving with the pudding. Oh, and don't forget to serve the pudding with some sliced banana.
I think this pudding will be a favourite now, but will only make it to the table a couple of times a year. The reason - per serving it's nearly 600cals.


WOMAN&HOME - FEEL GOOD FOOD - AUTUMN 2007

Serves: 4 people

50g butter - softened, 35g caster sugar, 75g dark brown sugar, 1 egg, 100g bananas - chopped, 125g self-raising flour - sieved, 150g golden syrup (this is about one good tablespoon of golden syrup per ramekin).

You will need: 4 x ramekin dishes, greased, with a greaseproof paper disc placed at the bottom of each one.

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C /130°F Fan, Gas 2.
2. Mix together the softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Add the bananas and flour and mix again.
3. Pour the golden syrup into the ramekins, then add the pudding mixture until each ramekin is two-thirds full. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes. If they aren't quite ready cover with foil and cook for a further 5 minutes or so.

For the custard: (slightly adapted)

175ml milk, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 egg yolks and 20g caster sugar.

1. Gently heat the milk in a pan. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, vanilla extract and sugar together by hand in a bowl. Once the milk has boiled, pour half onto the yolks and whisk again. Place the pan of milk back onto the hob, on a low heat. Add the egg mixture, stirring continuously.
2. The mixture will thicken as the eggs cook. To test, run your finger down the wooden spoon - if it leaves a clean line it is ready.
3. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, then chill in the fridge.

To serve: Turn out the puddings from the ramekins, dust them with icing sugar and serve with the sauce and a few slices of banana.

23 Sep 2007

PEACH AND STRAWBERRY CRUMBLE



This isn't any old crumble recipe, this is Rachel Allen's Peach and Strawberry Crumble.
Other than making the crumble, this is more or less, just an assembly job.
The ripe peaches are cut into quarters and the strawberries are quartered and then sprinkled with golden caster sugar.
After cooking, the peaches were still identifiable and the strawberries made a beautiful bright red sauce.
The crumble only took about a minute to make and had the perfect amount of crunch.
For the love of crumble, please don't buy a packet of ready made crumble mix.
If you don't want to get your hands messed up making crumble, for a few pounds you can buy a pastry blender, this makes quick work of rubbing fat into flour.
I was fortunate with the strawberries because I have some September fruiting plants in my garden and I couldn't think of a better way to use my strawberries at this time of the year than to combine them with peaches and a scattering of crumble. The strawberries can be replaced with raspberries or blueberries.

RACHEL'S FAVOURITE FOOD FOR FRIENDS by RACHEL ALLEN


ISBN 0717139999 - Page 81

Serves: 6

300g peaches - stoned and cut into quarters, 200g strawberries - quartered, 1 tablespoon golden caster sugar.

For the crumble:

100g plain flour, 50g demerara or golden granulated sugar, 50g butter- chilled and cubed.

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
2. In a 1-litre capacity pie dish - or 6 large ramekins, place the peaches and strawberries. Add the golden caster sugar.
3. For the crumble topping, place the flour and demerara sugar in a bowl. Rub in the butter, but not completely - it should still be course. Scatter the crumble over the fruit and refrigerate until you need to cook it.
4. Cook in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes (or 15-20 minutes for the individual dishes), until golden and bubbly.
5. Serve on its own, with a dollop of lightly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

17 Sep 2007

GOOD-FOR-YOU GRANOLA


Mostly for breakfast, I like to eat homemade muesli - I have a favourite recipe taken from Sainsbury's Magazine by Nigel Slater. The main reason I favour this is because it is unsweetened.
However, I decided to make granola for a change and this recipe is taken from the bbcgoodfood website. It both looks and tastes delicious. I found this granola quite sweet but it has a wonderful crunch. To counteract the sweetness a dollop of natural homemade yogurt goes with it perfectly.
Even though I found it a little sweet, it still beats anything you can buy off the supermarket shelf.
A few spoonfuls on vanilla ice cream would be good or a bowl filled with granola to snack on throughout the day would be perfect.

11 Sep 2007

LEMON LINGUINE


I love eating this, but trust me, it doesn't taste the same if eaten indoors! A wonderful warm sunny day so that you can eat alfresco is a must.
Unfortunately I couldn't get any linguine, and so I had to second-best it and use spaghetti, still ok but not quite the same.
When a recipe asks for pasta, lemon, Parmesan cheese and parsley you really can't go far wrong.
Some green leaves need to be served alongside this, I opted for watercress. A piece of toasted ciabatta is good too.
How to Eat by Nigella Lawson is still one of my favourite cookery books. It's packed with recipes and just a handful of photographs.
The weather forecast is good for this coming weekend, so here is something quick, simple and very tasty.

HOW TO EAT BY NIGELLA LAWSON

ISBN 0701165766 - Page 253

Serves 6 (can easily be scaled down)

750g linguine, 2 egg yolks, 150ml double cream, 50g freshly grated Parmesan cheese, zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon, 15g butter, fresh flat-leaf parsley.

1. Fill a pot with water and bring to the boil. Add some salt. Tip in the pasta, bring back to the boil and cook for a couple minutes less than it says on the packet of pasta.
2. In a bowl, put the yolks, cream, grated Parmesan cheese, zest of the whole lemon and juice of half of it, a pinch of salt and a good grating of pepper and beat together until just combined.
3. Remove a cup of cooking liquid, drain the pasta and then, off the heat, toss it back in the pan, throw in the butter and stir and swirl about to make sure the butter's melted and pasta covered by it all over.
4. Stir in the egg, cream, cheese and lemon mix and turn the pasta well, adding some of the cooking liquid if it looks a bit dry (2 tablespoons or so should do it).
Sprinkle over some just-chopped parsley and serve straight away.

5 Sep 2007

FRUIT LOAF WITH FRESH LIME AND GINGER


Anyone for a slice of cake? This fruit cake is light, moist and has a lovely lime icing. The unusual thing about this particular cake is that you simply throw everything into a bowl and mix. By doing this the fruit won't sink to the bottom of the cake. If you decide to make it the 'proper' way, then as I found out, the fruit all sinks to the bottom of the cake.
Lucy Young has put stem ginger into this cake and it is a wonderful match with the limes.
I've made this cake several times and sometimes use Nigella Lawson's Malibu icing instead of the suggested one here. Below I have also given the recipe for this.
Lucy Young wrote this book for the Aga but also gives instructions for conventional cookers. Lucy works for Mary Berry and helps run Mary's Aga workshops.


SECRETS FROM A COUNTRY KITCHEN BY LUCY YOUNG

ISBN 0091896754 - Page 180

Makes 2 cakes.

175g self-raising flower, 100g soft butter, 100g caster sugar, 3 eggs - beaten, 50g raisins, 50g glace cherries - quartered, washed and dried well, 150g sultanas, 4 bulbs stem ginger - finely chopped, finely grated zest of 2 limes.

1. You will need two 450g (1 lb) loaf tins, greased and base lined.
2. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF/Gas 3.
3. Measure all the ingredients for the cakes into a large bowl. Mix well until smooth. Divide between the two loaf tins, and level the tops.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45-50 minutes until golden brown or test if cooked by inserting a skewer into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean the cake is cooked. Leave to cool in the tins.

FOR THE ICING

100g icing sugar - sieved, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 bulb stem ginger - chopped,
finely grated zest of 1 small lime.
Simply mix the icing sugar and lime juice together until smooth. Spread over the top of the cakes. Garnish with ginger down the centre and arrange lime zest over the top.

Recipe taken from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson - Page 23.

MALIBU ICING (slightly adapted)

125g instant royal icing
1 tablespoon Malibu
1 tablespoon water

Simply mix together until smooth and pour over the cake.

2 Sep 2007

BEEF WELLINGTON


I made Beef Wellington for my husbands birthday - he has reached an age where there is a '0' at the end of the number! Something special had to be made, to celebrate his special day.
Choosing the recipe was quite challenging, there are so many versions of Beef Wellington. A recipe from a food writer, rather than one from a chef's book, was the main criteria. I wanted this to be home cooking at its best and not me trying to copy restaurant food.
The meat was cut from the middle of the fillet and was bought from my local QGuild butcher.
I prepared the beef the day before, popped it in the fridge and cooked it the next evening.
A variety of steamed vegetables were served with the Beef Wellington.
The meat cost me a small fortune, but its not everyday you get the chance to serve prime fillet in such a delicious way.

MEAT by Joanna Farrow

ISBN 0600612627 - Page 33

Serves: 6

1.5kg middle piece beef fillet, 50g butter, 2 small onions - finely chopped, 300g chestnut mushrooms - chopped, 2 tablespoons brandy, 500g puff pastry, 200g smooth chicken pate, 1 egg - lightly beaten, salt and pepper.

1. Trim off the excess fat and season the beef. Melt the butter in a frying pan and sear the beef on all sides. Transfer it to a roasting tin, reserving the fat in the pan, roast in a preheated oven 200ºC(400ºF), Gas 6 for 20 minutes. Leave to cool.
2. Fry the onions in the pan for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and a little seasoning and fry until the moisture has evaporated. Add the brandy and fry for a further 1 minute. Leave to cool.
3. Thinly roll out the pastry to a large rectangle. Spread the top of the meat with the pate, then press a thick layer of the mushroom mixture over the top. Invert the beef onto the pastry and spread with the remaining mushrooms.
4. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and bring it up over the fillet to enclose the meat completely, trimming off any bulky areas at the corners. Place, join side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet and brush with more egg. Bake for 35 minutes, until deep golden. Leave to stand for 20 minutes before carving.

My son took the photograph despite all the kitchen frenzy - my husband decided to give food photography a miss. It was a day to enjoy freshly cooked hot food - we gave lukewarm food a miss for once.

25 Aug 2007

MINI CHERRY TOMATO AND BASIL PESTO GALETTES


Whilst admiring Scott's Strawberry and Champagne Jam on his site I noticed that he is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging. and my canapes made with basil pesto fit the theme superbly and so here is my entry for the above.
We had a 'bit of a do' this last weekend and I made a few canapes. These in particular were very popular. They were easy to make and big on taste.
Making pesto is a doddle - I used basil from my garden and there wasn't a cellophane wrapped package of basil or a jar of pesto in sight.
The book I took this recipe from is my personal favourite - the recipes are all 'do-able', the food styling and photography is amazing. Every photograph, on every page, jumps out at you and says make me.
If you are about to have a 'bit of a do' look out for this book - you'll be glad you did!

CANAPES

Eric Treuille & Victoria Blashford-Snell

ISBN 1405305134 - Page 44

Makes: 20

15g basil leaves, 2 tbsp pine nuts, 1 tbsp olive oil, 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated, 200g puff pastry, 20 cherry tomatoes, each cut into 3 slices, salt, black pepper, 20 basil sprigs to garnish.

You will need a 5cm fluted pastry cutter.



FOR THE PESTO:
Place the basil, pine nuts, oil and Parmesan in a food processor or blender and pulse to a thick paste.

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC(400ºF)Gas 6.
2. Roll out pastry on a floured surface to 2.5mm thick. Stamp out 20 rounds with the pastry cutter. Place the pastry rounds onto a floured baking sheet.
3. Spread ½ tsp pesto onto each pastry round and top with 3 cherry tomato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Bake until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes.
5. Garnish each galette with ½ tsp pesto and a basil sprig. Serve warm.

Pesto can be made up to 3 days in advance. Put into a container, place a layer of clingfilm on top of the pesto and refrigerate.
Bake galettes up to 1 day in advance.
Reheat in a preheated oven 200ºC(400ºF)Gas 6 for 3 minutes. Garnish and serve warm.

CAN I HAVE ANOTHER ONE PLEASE?

22 Aug 2007

STRAWBERRY JAM


When I made the mini Victoria sponge cakes, posted below, I didn't get the chance to make the strawberry jam, Delicious Magazine made for the filling - but now I have triumphed and made two wonderful pots of fresh tasting strawberry jam.

Jam making can consist of two or three simple ingredients, but somehow they manage to terrorise me. I'm just not at ease when it comes to making preserves, even though I've read up on the subject.

When I look at my two jars of bright red strawberry jam, I must confess, I can't help feeling pleased with myself.

Unfortunately the strawberries didn't come from my garden, for the simple reason I have to share them with the squirrel. I've put netting over the plants this year, did this stop him - no! Now he just puts his teeth into them because he can't steal them, I think I would rather he stole them than left me staring at strawberries with teeth marks in them.

A slightly adapted recipe from Delicious Magazine August 2007

STRAWBERRY JAM

Makes approximately 2 x 1 lb jars

450g strawberries, hulled
500g preserving sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

1. Freeze 2 saucers.
2. Put the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice into a greased preserving pan over a medium-low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil for 6 minutes. Remove from the heat. Put a spoonful onto a chilled saucer and push your finger through it - if it wrinkles, it's ready, if not, boil for another 2 minutes and repeat.
3. Stir in a small piece of butter.
4. Let stand for 15 minutes.
5. Spoon into sterilised jars. Cover jam with waxed discs. Moisten one side of transparent cover, place on jar damp side uppermost, secure over rim of jar with a rubber band.

11 Aug 2007

MINI VICTORIA SPONGE CAKES


You've probably guessed by now that I love cooking from Delicious Magazine and here is yet another recipe that caught my eye. This recipe comes from the August 2007 issue.
I've used fresh strawberries and West Country double cream as the filling.
Delicious Magazine gave the recipe for strawberry jam to be used with the cream as the filling, and I will post the jam recipe very soon.
Baking cakes and desserts is probably my most favourite part of cooking and I seem to fall in love with anything and everything 'mini' in the baking and desserts department!

Serves 8

For the cakes:
170g butter, softened, 170g caster sugar, 3 medium eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 170g self-raising flour.

For the filling:
284ml carton whipping cream, a large punnet of strawberries, icing sugar for dusting.

You will need 4 x 8-9cm straight-sided individual Yorkshire pudding tins or 8 round plain cutters, sat on a lined tray. The tins will need to be greased and base lined.

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/fan 160ºC/gas 4.
2. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla, then gradually beat into the creamed mixture, adding a little of the flour. Sift over the remaining flour and gently fold in until just combined.
3. Divide evenly between the holes or rings, smoothing the surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool.
4. Lightly whip the cream to soft peaks. Spread onto 4 sponge bases, top with quartered strawberries and sandwich with the remaining sponge discs. Dust each with icing sugar to serve. Each cake serves 2.

25 Jul 2007

SALMON WITH CRUSHED NEW POTATOES, ROCKET AND LIME PESTO


Another recipe from Woman&Home Feel Good Food Magazine, this time from the Summer 2007 issue.
There are sections on food know-how, celebrity chefs' recipes, outdoor eating, summer detox, starters and soups, fish and seafood, salads and vegetables, meat and poultry plus a section on desserts.
The recipe I chose to cook came under the summer detox section and not only tasted good but looked amazing. The rocket and lime pesto was very light and fresh.
I made this last Friday during the torrential downpours. My son was coming home to visit for the weekend and had an horrendous journey, like thousands of other commuters. He didn't arrive here until 10.30 p.m. This dinner cheered him up and he savoured every mouthful!

Serves: 4 people

750g new potatoes, 1 small red onion, finely chopped, 2 ripe tomatoes, deseeded and diced, 1 small yellow pepper, finely chopped, 3tbsp chopped fresh chervil, 2 tbsp olive oil, 4 thick salmon fillets, weighing about 125g each.

FOR THE PESTO: 50g wild rocket, 50g pine nuts, 1 garlic clove, crushed, juice 1 lime, 6tbsp cold pressed olive oil.

1. Make the pesto by placing all the ingredients in a blender and whizzing to a thick puree. Put in the fridge to chill.
2. Place the potatoes in a large pan of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until tender. Drain and crush gently with the back of a fork. Combine the onion, tomatoes, pepper, chervil and olive oil and divide among four plates.
3. Preheat a large, non-stick frying pan and add the salmon, skin side down. Season and cook over a medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Place a salmon fillet on top of the potatoes, drizzle with the pesto and serve.

INDIVIDUAL SUMMER PUDDINGS


This recipe is from the August 2007 copy of Delicious Magazine and they have called this issue Healthy Summer Eating.
Summer pudding comes in all shapes and sizes and we are flooded with different recipes. This particular recipe has creme de cassis added to the fruit! I love individual puddings and so this recipe won hands down when it came to making something quick, light and tasty.
Instead of lining the basin all the way round with bread, the base is lined with a round of bread and the rest of the bread is broken up and added to the fruit mixture. What a brilliant idea from the people at Delicious Magazine.
My own tip is to first line the basins with clingfilm, this will ensure the puddings turn out of the tins instead of having to stand there with your fingers crossed and hoping!

Makes: 4

Start the day before, as they need to chill overnight in the fridge.

250g raspberries, 125g blackcurrants, 125g redcurrants, 100g caster sugar, 6 slices white bread, crusts removed, 2 tablespoons creme de cassis, plus extra to serve.

1. Put the fruit and sugar in a pan over a medium heat. Gently simmer for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the juices have begun to run from the fruit. Don't overcook the fruit. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
2. Using a 6cm plain cutter, cut out 4 rounds from 2 slices of the bread (keep the trimmings). Dip both sides into the fruit, so the juices soak the bread, then use to line the base of 4 x 150ml individual pudding basins.
3. Tear the remaining bread into pieces and stir into the fruit mixture, along with the creme de cassis. Spoon into each mould and cover with clingfilm. Place on a baking tray and weigh each one down. Chill overnight.
4. The next day, turn out onto serving plates. Drizzle with extra creme de cassis to serve.

If you don't have any fresh fruit, a bag of frozen summer fruits can be used instead.

15 Jul 2007

TOMATO, BASIL AND TALEGGIO TART




A while back, whilst in the newsagents, I was looking at all the foodie magazines and I came across a new quarterly food magazine by the people at Woman&Home.
The first thing I loved was the front cover, a beautiful Mango parfait topped with blueberries. Flicking through the pages the recipes come under evocative headings such as calming foods, de-stressing foods, vitality foods, radiance foods, energising foods, mood foods and relaxing foods.
There are recipes by Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson, James Martin and Nigel Slater, Alastair Hendy and others.
A section of the magazine is also devoted to Books for Cooks where a short review is given on current cookery books.
The recipe I have chosen to cook from this magazine is very simple, took a short time to prepare and looked and tasted wonderful.


This recipe will serve 4 people or in our case, it only served the two of us!

You will need:
375g packet ready-rolled puff pastry, 1 bunch basil, leaves only, plus extra to garnish, 300g baby tomatoes on the vine, 250g cubed Taleggio cheese, 1 tablespoon milk.

1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC, fan 200ºC, 425ºF, Gas 7. Place the pastry on a large flat baking sheet and score a rim along the sides of the rectangle, 2.5cm in from the edge.
2. Scatter the basil over the pastry and place the tomatoes on top without removing the vines. Season well with plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
3. Scatter over the cheese and brush the outside rim of the pastry with milk. Bake for 20 minutes until golden and risen. Scatter over some more fresh basil before serving.

ROASTED STONE FRUITS AND CARDAMOM WITH HONEY AND VANILLA CREAM




Another recipe from Woman&Home Feel Good Food - Spring 2007 magazine. The photography and food styling really caught my eye and there are some wonderful recipe titles such as Banoffee bliss, Feeling peachy and Tropical meltdown. I want to make them all!
For now, I chose the above recipe which I have adapted slightly, purely on the basis I didn't have all the required ingredients. The raspberries were out of my garden and so they took centre stage.

Serves: 6-8

For the syrup: 200ml water, 125g caster sugar, 10 cardamom pods, crushed.

12 to 16 ripe stone fruits, peaches, plums or nectarines.
35g butter, cubed, 6 tablespoons of clear honey.

For the vanilla cream: 200ml double cream, 2 tablespoons caster sugar, 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out, 200ml full-fat yogurt.

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, fan 160ºC, 350F/Gas 4. Put all the syrup ingredients into a small saucepan. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Leave the mixture to cool, then strain through a sieve.
2. Halve the fruits and remove the stones. Place on a baking sheet and put a cube of butter on top of each half. Drizzle over the honey. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until they are soft and slightly browned.
3. While the fruit is cooking and the syrup is on the stove, make the vanilla cream. Mix together the cream, caster sugar and vanilla, and beat until thick. Stir in the yogurt and leave the mixture in the fridge until required.
4. When the fruit is ready, remove from the oven to a serving dish. Pour over the syrup and serve warm with the vanilla cream.

My substitutions to the above: I didn't have any double cream and instead used thick Greek yogurt mixed with full-fat yogurt. I couldn't find my vanilla pod and so I used a smidgen of Vanilla Works vanilla paste. Also, I didn't have any plums to cook alongside the peaches and so I decided to use some of my raspberries for decoration. Well, that's what cookings all about sometimes, if you haven't got it improvise!

2 Jul 2007

GINGERED SEMI-FREDDO CUPCAKES


This Italian ice cream is like the original soft scoop ice cream. It is made with a boiled sugar syrup and doesn't have the traditional custard base, it is speckled with chopped stem ginger and will stay soft when frozen.
If you don't have an ice cream machine then this would be a good one to make, but you will need a sugar thermometer.
I decided to add some Stone's Green Ginger Wine to the mixture before freezing. The texture of the semi-freddo was wonderfully smooth and velvety.
To serve, I made some chocolate cases with Green & Black's Organic Cooks' Chocolate, after my unsuccessful attempts at making chocolate baskets!!

Meeta over at What's for Lunch, Honey? has chosen "Scream for Ice Cream" for her Monthly Mingle. I hope my entry is 'cool' enough for you Meeta!

I have slightly adapted the recipe from the one given in the book.


ICE CREAM AND ICED DESSERTS
by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis

ISBN 10987654321 - PAGE 87

Serves: 6

4 egg yolks, 115g caster sugar, 120ml cold water, 300ml double cream, 115g drained stem ginger, finely chopped, plus extra slices, to decorate, 3 tbsp ginger wine (optional)

1.Put the egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl and whisk until frothy. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and simmer gently.
2. Mix the sugar and measured cold water in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Increase the heat and boil for 4-5 minutes without stirring until the syrup registers 115ºC/239ºF on a sugar thermometer.
4. Put the bowl of egg yolks over the pan of simmering water and whisk in the sugar syrup. Continue whisking until the mixture is very thick. Remove from the heat and whisk until cool.
5. Whip the cream and lightly fold it into the yolk mixture, with the chopped ginger and ginger wine. Pour into a plastic tub and freeze for 1 hour.
6. Stir the semi-freddo to bring any ginger that has sunk to the bottom of the tub to the top, then return to the freezer for 5-6 hours until firm.
7. Scoop into dishes or chocolate cases and decorate with slices of ginger.

Fabulous!

Herbs


It is so easy to grow herbs in pots on the patio it seems a shame to buy them from the supermarket.
My bay is a few years old now and just starting to produce lots of new growth, the rosemary bush is about a year old, and the sage, mint and thyme are new this year.
I have bought a lavender bush to sit amongst the herbs because the thyme seems to attract lots of little flies, and I am told the lavender helps to keep them away.
With the exception of mint, when the herbs grow too big or woody for the pots I put them in my vegetable garden and basically, I just let them grow into small bushes.
I chop the rosemary leaves and put these in the freezer for the winter, the thyme is too fiddly to chop and so I just cut the stems complete with leaves, and freeze these too.
Mint and sage can also be chopped and then stored in the freezer. The bay I cover up for the winter months to protect from the frosts and so in the winter I am able to also use fresh bay leaves.
Herbs are a cooks best friend and the uses for them are endless. An excellent book about herbs is The New Vegetable & Herb Expert by Dr D G Hessayon.

25 Jun 2007

FISH AND CHIPS


Fish and chips are a popular takeaway food, particularly on Friday and Saturday evenings. I know a lot of people go to their local 'chippy' (fish and chip shop) and take them home wrapped up in paper.

The problem with doing this, is that by the time you get them home, the steam trapped inside the paper has done a splendid job of making the fish batter and chips soggy. Then to top it all they are lukewarm!

Do you put the fish and chip paper onto a plate and eat them with your fingers, or do you tip them out of the paper onto a plate and eat them with a knife and fork? Either way, I'll pass on that one thank you.

There's a time and place to eat fish and chips from the 'chippy', and that time for me, is either walking along the seafront, taking in the sea air, or sitting on the wall looking out to sea. The chips at the bottom of the paper are going slightly soggy from the wonderful, golden, crispy fish lying on top of the chips (mine have got salt and vinegar on!). This is my idea of fish and chip heaven.

Occasionally I make battered fish, chips and mushy peas (the recipe for the mushy peas belongs to Nigella Lawson and I have posted this below). Oh! and don't forget to serve them with good pickled onions and white bread and butter.


BATTER

This batter is wonderfully crisp and golden.

Makes enough batter mixture to coat four average size pieces of fish.

6 oz self-raising flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt.
(For a very crispy batter you can add 3 teaspoons of malt vinegar to the batter).

1. Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and pour in enough water to make a thick gloopy batter. Leave for 1 hour to rest.
2. Dry the fish well. Coat with seasoned flour. Dip into the gloopy batter.
3. Heat a deep fat fryer to 180°c and cook the fish on both sides until golden brown.

I always acknowledge the source of my recipes, but in this instance, I don't have a reference. The recipe came from a television programme, more years ago than I care to remember!

UPMARKET MUSHY PEAS

Nigella's original recipe for the peas (which includes a head of garlic and creme fraiche) is to go with roast cod for a more formal fish dinner.

I have adapted this recipe to go with the fish and chip dinner above.

HOW TO EAT - NIGELLA LAWSON

ISBN 0701165766 - PAGE 194

800g frozen petits pois, 100g butter.

1. Cook the peas for longer than you would do if you were eating them normally.
2. Drain, then tip into the bowl of a food processor, add the butter and process.
3. Place the peas back into the saucepan and reheat.

These mushy peas are a doddle to make and so why not give them a go?

18 Jun 2007

ORANGE POUND CAKE


Well - I don't think it's ever going to stop raining and this cake is just the thing to make for 'rainy day baking'.
The cake in the photograph looks very orange, but I promise you, it isn't food
colouring, I used only fresh orange juice.
Making this cake is a doddle, all the ingredients are mixed together for a couple of minutes in a bowl (easy!).
The butter cream is different from your usual creaming together of icing sugar and unsalted butter - there isn't any icing sugar in sight for this one. If you don't like butter cream, maybe you will enjoy this filling.

JAMES MARTIN COOKBOOK - THE GREAT BRITISH VILLAGE SHOW

ISBN 9781405320801 - PAGE 160

Serves 6-8

125g soft butter, 125g vanilla caster sugar, 125g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, grated zest of 1 large orange, juice of ½ large orange, 125g eggs (about 2 medium eggs), 1 rounded tbsp ground almonds (optional).

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C fan(170°C/Gas 3). Line the bottom and long sides of a 23cm loaf tin with baking parchment.
2. Put all the ingredients for the cake into a bowl and mix until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown and springy to touch.
3. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then take hold of the edges of the baking parchment and lift the cake onto a wire rack. Leave to cool.

BUTTER CREAM
125g granulated sugar, 3 tbsp orange juice, 2 egg yolks, beaten, 125g soft, unsalted butter.

1. Dissolve the sugar with the juice, then put a sugar thermometer in the pan and boil to 115°C or a fraction higher. Put the egg yolks in a bowl. Tip in the boiling syrup and beat vigorously with an electric mixer. Before the mixture is cold, add the soft butter and beat again until light, creamy and thickened. Chill in the fridge to firm up (this takes a while).
2. Cut the cake horizontally in half. Fill with the butter cream, keeping back a little to smooth on top (I found I didn't use all of the butter cream).

TO FINISH
A handful of flaked almonds, sifted icing sugar.
Scatter over the almonds and dust with icing sugar before serving.

This cake is definitely in my repertoire now, it not only looked fabulous, but tasted fabulous too.

SIMPLE SCONES


These scones are wonderfully soft and light textured. The unusual thing about this recipe is that you melt the butter, rather than rub the butter into the flour.
I love watching them through the oven door as they miraculously puff up and become golden!
Afternoon Tea has become popular again in hotels, and scones are one of the stars on the cake stand.
I was fortunate, on a recent trip to London, to have Afternoon Tea at The Wolseley, a real girlie treat. They were very accommodating too, with Nanna, Mummy, baby and pushchair in tow, and made us all very welcome (in fact, I think baby made their day!).

BILLS FOOD - BILL GRANGER

ISBN 174045085 - PAGE 94

Makes 8

310g plain flour, 1 tbsp icing sugar, 1½ tablespoons baking powder, a pinch of salt, 250ml milk, 30g butter, melted.

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C(425°F/Gas 7). Sift the icing sugar, flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the melted butter and milk (you may not need all of the milk) and stir to combine. Knead quickly and lightly until smooth and then press out onto a floured surface.
2. Cut into rounds 5cm in diameter and 3cm deep and place them close together on a greased baking tray. Gather the scraps together, lightly knead again, then cut out more rounds.
3. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until puffed and golden.
4. Serve with jam and lightly whipped cream.

Yummy!