28 Apr 2008


The Passionate Cook is hosting this months Waiter! there's something in my....... challenge and Johanna's theme for April is "breakfast favourites".

As a rule breakfast in my house isn't a big deal, but just something to sustain you until lunch-time comes around. That is, unless my three year old grandson comes to stay, then breakfast takes on a whole new meaning and lasts about an hour!

I decided to make an indulgent breakfast of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and toasted brioche. For this breakfast, the salmon more often than not, is added to the scrambled eggs and then spooned onto the brioche, but I prefer these ingredients to be served separately. The eggs should be made with a small amount of double cream added to them, for extra indulgence.

This is my perfect breakfast, not too filling but extremely satisfying.

20 Apr 2008


The pear and chocolate combo always seems to be popular with the foodblogging community. Take a peek at other sites, magazines and cookery books and you will always find inspiration for these two ingredients.

I saw Jamie Oliver making this dessert on television a few weeks ago, and this recipe is perfect for using up some of those egg whites that have been stored away in the freezer.

I adapted the recipe in various ways, firstly by using toasted flaked almonds instead of the hazelnuts. Also, I whipped 200ml of double cream and then stirred into this 200ml of Greek yogurt, and I only used a teaspoon or so of icing sugar to sweeten the cream, instead of the 50g suggested, because I'm not very keen on sweetened cream..

The meringue was crisp on the outside and soft and sticky inside. The topping was fragrant from the vanilla cream and the grated orange zest and the chocolate sauce was smooth and rich, with a hint of ginger.

Here is Jamie's original recipe.



ISBN 9780718152437 - Page 39

Serves: 6 to 8 people

You will need:

4 large egg whites, 200g unrefined golden caster sugar, a pinch of sea salt, 100g hazelnuts with skins removed, 2 x 400g tins of halved pears in syrup, 2 pieces of stem ginger thinly sliced (optional), 200g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), 400ml double cream, 50g sifted icing sugar, 1 vanilla pod halved and seeds scraped out, zest of 1 orange.

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2 and line a 40 x 25cm baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.
2. Put your egg whites into a clean bowl, whisk on medium until the whites form firm peaks. With your mixer still running, gradually add the sugar and the pinch of salt. Turn the mixer up to the highest setting and whisk for about 7 or 8 minutes, until the meringue mixture is white and glossy.
3. Dot each corner of the greaseproof paper with a blob of meringue, then turn it over and stick it to the baking tray. Spoon the meringue out on to the paper. Using the back of a spoon, shape and swirl it into an A4 size rectangle. Place in the preheated oven and bake for an hour or until crisp on the outside and a little soft and sticky inside. At the same time, bake the hazelnuts on a separate tray in the oven for an hour or until golden brown.
4. Drain the tins of pears, reserving the syrup from one tin. Cut each pear half into three slices. Pour the pear syrup into a saucepan with the ginger and warm gently over a medium heat until it starts to simmer. Take off the heat and snap the chocolate into the saucepan, stirring with a spoon until it's all melted.
5. Take the meringue and hazelnuts out of the oven and leave to cool. Place the meringue on a board or platter.
6. Whip the cream with the sifted icing sugar and the vanilla seeds until it forms smooth, soft peaks. Smash the toasted hazelnuts (in a tea towel) and sprinkle half of them over the top of the meringue. Spoon half the whipped cream over the top and drizzle with some of the chocolate sauce (if the sauce has firmed up, melt it slightly by holding the saucepan over a large pan of boiling water).
7. Divide most of the the pear pieces evenly over the top. Pile over the rest of the whipped cream and pears. Drizzle with some more chocolate sauce, then sprinkle over the remaining toasted hazelnuts with some grated orange zest.
8. Serve straight away. If you're making this in advance, get everything ready and assemble at the last minute.

14 Apr 2008


Is there still orange marmalade left in the jar after making Jamie Oliver's Hot Cross Pudding? Perhaps now would be a good time to use some of it up, that is, unless you have already had the rest of it on toast.

This cake comes about from Nigel Slater's love of marmalade and to quote him 'I use more of this amber jelly in my kitchen than ever touches a piece of toast'.

This is a very homely and comforting cake, with a wonderful light texture. If you leave it for a couple of days before icing then the cake becomes really sticky.

Nigel says after cooking, the cake will sink slightly, mine didn't though, perhaps he used too much marmalade!!

I made a couple of these and cooked them in small loaf tins, then I iced one of the cakes and popped the other in the freezer.

In the past I have made marmalade cake but have never been very impressed with the results and if you too have found this to be the case, here is the recipe that we have been waiting for.


Serves: 8 people

You will need: a loaf tin 10 x 25.5cm, 7.5cm deep or 2 smaller loaf tins, lined with baking parchment.

175g soft butter, 75g light muscovado sugar, 100g golden caster sugar, 3 large eggs, finely grated zest of 1 large orange, 100g orange marmalade, 175g self-raising flour.

For the frosting:

100g unrefined icing sugar, 1 teaspoon orange flower water, 1 tablespoon orange juice.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/170°C fan/Gas 4.
2. Put the butter and sugars into the bowl of a food mixer and beat until pale and fluffy. The mixture should be the colour of milky coffee.
3. Beat the eggs lightly with a whisk and add to the butter and sugar mixture, just a little at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl regularly with a rubber spatula. If the mixture shows any sign of curdling add a tablespoon of the flour to bring it back together.
4. With the machine turning at moderate speed, add the grated orange zest and the marmalade. Stop as soon as they are incorporated. Remove the bowl from the machine, then fold in the flour with a large metal spoon. Do this firmly but carefully, until there is no sign of any flour.
5. Spoon the mixture into the lined cake tin or tins, lightly smoothing the top. Bake for 40 minutes if making one large cake, or 35 minutes if making two smaller ones. Check the cake is cooked with a metal skewer. (It should come out clean if the cake is ready). Leave to cool in the tin or tins - it will naturally sink slightly - then remove and cool on a wire rack.

To make the frosting:

1. Sieve the icing sugar and mix it to a smooth, slightly runny consistency with the orange flower water and as much of the orange juice as it takes, probably the whole tablespoon. Drizzle the frosting over the cake, letting it run down the sides, and leave to set.

I used the full quantity of frosting to ice one small loaf.

6 Apr 2008

Recipe: Lamb Tagine by Mary Berry

Just by looking at the list of ingredients in this recipe you can tell all those spices are going to make this fabulous.
This recipe is by Mary Berry and one I make time and again.  It's one pot cooking and can be cooked in the slow cooker too.  The flavours pack a punch and my kitchen always smells wonderful when this is cooking. I have slightly adapted the recipe and added some chicken stock to loosen the sauce. I made this for the two of us and halved the list of ingredients, although for the lamb I used 300g. The tagine is best made the day before and left in the fridge overnight for the flavours to develop.

Lamb neck fillet from Waitrose was used in my recipe. For some unknown reason the butchers around here don't seem to sell it.

One of my hubs favourite meals and I craftily always make this if I've been out and bought things I didn't realise I needed:)

I served mine with rice purely because we aren't fans of couscous.

You will need:

1 tbs sunflower oil, 900g neck fillet of lamb, boneless shoulder or leg, 2 large onions, 3 cloves garlic crushed, 175g quartered dried apricots, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground paprika, ⅛ tsp hot chilli powder, 1 generous pinch of saffron soaked in 3 tbs hot water, 2 tbs honey, 800g tinned chopped tomatoes, ½ pint of chicken stock, chopped parsley and coriander to garnish.

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
2. Heat the oil in a large casserole and brown lamb in batches. When browned, remove and put on one side.
3. Add the chopped onions and garlic to a pan on a low heat, stir and then cover for around 10-15 minutes until soft.
4. Increase the heat and add the spices including saffron and soaking liquid.
5. Add the apricots, honey, tomatoes and lamb. Add some of the stock to loosen the mixture - you may need to top up the casserole during cooking to make a sauce.
6. Bring to the boil, season and cover with a lid. Pop in the oven for at least two hours.
7. Garnish with lots of parsley and coriander and serve either with couscous or rice.