Tag Archives: cream

The Easiest Meringue Recipe in the world

People are often afraid of making meringue.  I find it a super dessert to make in advance.  A good friend of mine, Emily, had told me about a Rachel Allen recipe that basically just flung everything together and whisked the bejasus out of it. And I often make meringue the “meringue girls” way too.  But this recipe is specifically for pavlova.  And works every time.

MeringueI always use my stainless steel kenwood bowl for this job.  I’ve never made it by hand but can’t imagine it would be easy, unless you’ve popeye arms. Meringue

The secret is to put everything in the bowl, with some hot water, I think the hot water is almost the equivalent to making meringue the Italian way. Then it’s whipped on high for 5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are holding their shape.
MeringueI simply spread this onto a large, lined baking tray and spread into some sort of shape. If I’m making a large one I’ll make it square as it’s easier to portion, but this was just the usual family dinner, so I made a circle (ish)   Meringue
The other secret is the oven setting.  Although Rachel says you can use a fan oven, this recipe works best I feel when using the conventional one, as she suggests.  You simply heat the oven, on conventional, to 2000C, then simply switch it off when you put the tray into the oven to bake.  This means that you can make it last thing at night and simply walk away.  Mind you, be careful not to come down in the morning to turn the oven on again before taking the masterpiece out!

MeringueThe last thing to add is the topping.  Rachel suggests Mango and crystallised ginger.  I don’t always have a ripe mango to hand- who does?- so I go with a mixture of what fruit I have in the fridge.  And as this was a special dessert, I melted some chocolate to spoon over the assembled dish. Meringue

Afternoon Tea Part 2- the posh kind!

And we’re back to tea. But the posh nosh one this time.  I think you have to have a balance of sweet and savoury.  And people usually expect a sandwich, a scone and some cake.  The combination and quantities are up to you.

Tea Menu:

A selection of open sandwiches, with a variety of toppings on a sourdough made from oak smoked flour

Parma ham and Rocket Macaron

Fruit Scone with Cream and Raspberry Jam

Pistachio and Rose Friands

Strawberry Meringues

and of course…. some Darjeeling Tea

Afternoon Tea

Some open sandwiches to start things off

I had decided to be a little adventurous with my second savoury option.  Macaron filled with parma ham, mascarpone cream and some rocket leaves.  The macaron could have been better, they tasted fine but lacked the obligatory “foot”.  So more practice is needed.  But they were really delicious.

Savoury Macaron

Savoury Macaron

My better half is the scone maker in our house, and my favourite is fruit.  Although herself prefers the chocolate ones, and Nigel likes the cherry.  Each to his own! But they have to be served with cream and some sort of jam.  I had made some raspberry jam last week so went with that.

Afternoon Tea Scones

Afternoon Tea Scones

And then the bit that everyone is dying for- the sweet stuff.  Of course as strawberries are bang in season, and meringues are just so good.  There’s nothing nicer. And they can be made in advance adn stored in a tin.  I was talking to a lady recently and she spoke of freezing her meringues when cooked.  I had never heard of this- and although I do freeze any extra egg whites, I have never actually frozen the meringue once it’s made.  

Strawberry and Cream Meringue Nests

Strawberry and Cream Meringue Nests

So the other little adventure was Pistachio Financiers.  OMG.  A revelation.  How I did not eat them all is beyond me. They are so light and easy to eat.  They are not messy, and can be finished off in a couple of dainty bites.  I will most definitely be making these again!  

Afternoon Tea

Pistachio Financiers


Tartiflette Recipe- a French Classic

I had this wonderful dish for the first time while in Bath.  It is just divine, if slightly high on the calories.  Traditionally from the SAvoie region of France, it was re-developed by the cheese-maker Reblochon with great success.  Tartiflette was first mentioned in a book of 1705, Le Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois written by François Massialot ( a VERY important chef in his day) and his assistant B. Mathieu.  A very popular dish in ski resorts, I think I’ll put it on my meal planning for my Swiss Cooking Adventure.

Copyright Jeni Pim

Even looking at the ingredients makes me hungry

 

Tartiflette

Ingredients:

Waxy potatoes, large, to make a weight of 350g

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large red onion, sliced

175g of smoked back bacon, rind removed, cut into strips

100g of Vignette or Reblochon cheese, cut into 1 1/2cm cubes (including the rind)

100ml Double Cream

Optional: sprinkling of crushed chillies 25g of white breadcrumbs

Method: Peel and thickly slice the potatoes into 1.5cm slices.  Boil these in salted water for 6-8 minutes until just tender, then drain. While the potatoes are boiling, heat the oil in a large frying pan.  Fry the onion over medium heat until it becomes almost transparent.  Add the bacon to the pan and carry on frying for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions and bacon are golden in colour.

Copyright Jeni Pim

Onion and bacon ready to go

Heat the grill to high.  Add the potatoes to the onions and bacon, and brown the potatoes briefly.  Nestle the chunks of cheese among the potatoes and bacon and drizzle with the cream.  Sprinkle with the chilli if using, then evenly scatter with breadcrumbs.

Copyright Jeni Pim

Sprinkled with breadcrumbs and chilli flakes

Grill for about 5 minutes until the top is lightly browned and just on the point of bubbling.

Tartiflette bubbling and ready for devouring

Tartiflette bubbling and ready for devouring

 

Individual Rhubarb Tartlets Recipe

I get really excited when the rhubarb is ready, as it’s really the start of great things to come.

Rhubarb

Some Rhubarb in the sunshine (between the showers)

Individual Rhubarb Tartlets Recipe

Ingredients:

Pastry:

125g butter, at room temperature

60g caster sugar

160g of whole-wheat flour

80g ground almonds

1 drop pure almond extract

1 large egg, beaten

Topping:

200g of rhubarb, washed and sliced, keep some pieces long

100g & 50g caster sugar

150ml Cream

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Essence.

Method:

In your mixer, beat the butter with the sugar until fluffy. Add in both the flour and the ground almonds,  the almond extract and the beaten egg. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate the pastry for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Divide the pastry into equal pieces.  Press each piece evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a muffin tin. Warning: This is a little time consuming- but worth the effort, the result is like a crumble pastry, very moreish.   Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden and set. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Remove the tartlet shells from the tin.

Crumble Pastry Cases

Crumble Pastry Cases

In a saucepan, combine 3/4 of the sliced rhubarb with the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water; bring to a boil.  Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until very thick, about 15 minutes. Scrape the puree into a bowl and let cool; cover and refrigerate until firm and cold.

Roast the remaining rhubarb with the remaining sugar for approx. 30 minutes. Try to keep the shape of the spears.

Whip the cream to soft peaks. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the fruit puree into each tartlet. Top with a dollop of the cream and serve with a slice of the roasted rhubarb.

Two Words:

Pure Heaven
DSC_0275

Yet another chocolate pudding

This pudding is to share. Unless you are feeling particularly greedy.  Then you can eat this pudding yourself.  But maybe take it slowly.  This pudding was one of my favourites from my time in Ballymaloe.

The only downside to this is that it’s a last minute annie.  I usually put the majority of it together as the main course is being served.

Warm Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients:

150g good quality dark chocolate

Chocolate Pudding

Callebaut Chocolate

150g butter

1 dessertspoon of rum

150ml warm water

100g castor sugar

4 eggs

30g self-raising flour

Small pinch of cream of tartar

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°C.  Grease an oven proof deepish pie dish well.  Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt with the butter in a very low oven or in a heat proof bowl over hot water.  As soon as the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and add the rum, warm water and the castor sugar.
Continue to mix until this mixture is smooth.  Separate the eggs, whisking the yolks into the  chocolate mixture, then fold in the flour making sure there are no lumps. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl with the pinch of cream of tartar until it reaches stiff peaks;  fold this gently into the chocolate mixture and pour into the greased pie dish.

Chocolate Pudding

Folding in the egg whites

Put the pie dish into a bain-marie of hot water and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 160°C for a further 15-20 minutes.

Chocolate Pudding

I like to eat this straight away with some fridge cold softly whipped cream, and a nice cup of tea.  Mind you, be prepared to fight over any left after the first round has gone out.

To be honest it’s good the next day too, for breakfast, with a really good cup of coffee, and maybe a slightly smaller spoon of cream….

 

An Apple a Day

We have just harvested the last of the apples.  Phew.  Well when I say we, I mean, of course the royal “we”. And most of them are going to cider making and apple juice.  But it would be just unfair not to make some apple desserts.  There are probably more variations on apple pies then there are apples.  But I have a number of favourites, one of which involves making THE easiest crust ever, and doesn’t take cold hands, or indeed, any resting.  This means it can be made at the last minute, if you feel like a little something sweet.

 

Elstar Apple

Elstar Apples

Apple Varieties:

We use alot of Elstar apples. It’s an offspring of Golden Delicious, and was introduced in 1972 from the Netherlands. It produces great crops, year after year, the apples last for some months when they are harvested.  We use it alot, and although it doesn’t have the sharp green skin that many want their apples to have, the taste is fantastic.  There are 144 apples native to Ireland, the Armagh Bramley Apple was awarded a protected status from the EU last year (A little like protecting champagne, and the Waterford Blaa).  I think my favourite is the Blenheim Orange for a cooking apple variety.

The recipe I use is great with lots of fruits, but with something like an apple, I tend to sauté them first to start the cooking process.

Apples

Caramelising Apples in Butter and Sugar

The crust is a simple crumble crust, that is simply mixed and pressed into the serving dish.  This tart doesn’t like being removed from it’s cooking dish, so is best served straight from it. But it also doesn’t need resting or chilling.

Crumb Pastry

Crumb pastry

Then simply add the semi cooked apples, cover with some cinnamon infused sugar, and bake until the sugar covering melts.

Apple Custard Tart

Crust with the caramelised apples

Then the cream/ egg yolks mix is poured gently over the apples, if possible while the tart stays on the oven shelf.  this cooks until golden and set.

Apple Tart

Apple Tart, with a custard filling

It only needs to cool for about 20 minutes before ready to slice carefully, and of course it can be served with more cream!

 

More doughnut trials- and my homemade custard recipe

I promised doughnuts, and delivered them on two occasions over the last couple of weeks.  (Note to self- for the sake of our waistlines- not to be made for a further 6 months!)

It was the eldests’ choice to pick two flavourings from the Justin Gellatly book-

New books to try

New books to try

.  Nigel was making the doughnuts from Richard Bertinet’s Dough, so it was a mix of the tried, and untried.

Doughnut dough

Doughnut dough

In Richard’s classes he makes a point of NOT filling his doughnuts, instead dips them in the jam.  But I promised, and had also got a “filling” nozzle, so was all set to try it out.

I made the required selection of crème patisserie.   One a burnt sugar version.  The other a malted version.

Neither of them thickened very much, and I may have not let them cook sufficiently before whipping in some double cream.  But in the heel of the hunt, the mixture was delicious, yes, but too runny, definitely.  I also needed to wait for the doughnuts themselves to cool further- but we were under time pressure.  But they were eaten anyway.  Obviously.

Brown Sugar Custard Doughnuts

Brown Sugar Custard Doughnuts

Malted Custard Filled Doughnuts

Malted Custard Filled Doughnuts

So this weekend I decided to try a tried and tested recipe I use for homemade custard, which cheats slightly as it uses a spoonful of cornflour to help with the thickening.  This makes it strictly more of a pastry cream.

Homemade custard

Homemade custard

And at the end of the day we, or rather, I, decided not to bother filling thesedoughnuts at all! So we had them this time with the custard/ cream/ jam on the side.  I’ll fill them next time.  Promise.

A whole pile of

A whole pile of “nuts”

Homemade Pastry Cream (Fool proof Custard)

175mls whole milk

125mls cream (I use double cream)

40g caster sugar

1 vanilla pod, split

3 large free range egg yolks

20g of cornflour

  1. Put the milk, cream and 1 tablespoon of the sugar into a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add them to the pan.  Heat until almost simmering, at the shivery stage if you know what I mean.  Then take off the heat.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until creamy, then sieve over the cornflour and mix this in thoroughly.
  3. Gradually pour the hot creamy milk onto the sugary yolks, whisking all the time as you do, then pour into a clean saucepan, this is important- the saucepan you heated the milk doesn’t work here unless you’ve washed it.
  4. Stir the mixture over a low heat until the custard thickens, (using a whisk, and a wooden spatula to make sure you get all the edges), enough to thinly coat the back of a spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil as it will curdle.
  5. Remove from the heat and strain the custard again through a fine sieve into a cold bowl (unless you are serving it hot right away). Leave to cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.

 

 

 

 

More Mushrooms Please

One of the first recipes we made in Ballymaloe, actually I think the very first thing we cooked, was mushroom a la crème.  Chopping mushrooms was a technique that we learnt early on, and as I love mushrooms very much, a technique that will stay with me I hope.

Chopped button mushrooms

Chopped button mushrooms

First the onions have to be finely diced, another technique.  One of the things I said I needed to learn was how to correctly slice an onion.  And I haven’t looked back!

Diced onion

Diced onion

Then a knob of butter is melted in a shallow saucepan until foaming.  To this the diced onions are added, and a good seasoning of salt and pepper at this stage starts the symphony of flavours that will make up the final dish.  I turn the heat right down under the pot, and cover the onions with a butter wrapper and a tight fitting lid, leaving them to cook very gently until opaque, not coloured.

Meantime, I chop the mushrooms and cook them over a high heat in a frying pan with a little butter.  I also season each batch of these, with salt, pepper and a small squeeze of lemon juice.  They are cooked in batches to prevent the pan getting too cool, which ends up steaming the mushrooms, not frying them.  They must be cooked until golden in colour, this adds texture to the sauce, and removes all chance of floppy, slimy, tasteless mushrooms.

Mushrooms frying off

Mushrooms frying off

Once all the mushrooms are cooked they are added to the onions, then a generous pour of cream over the whole lot finishes it off.  This is brought to bubbling, and can be served straight away, or kept and reheated later.  As an aside, in the Ballymaloe recipe it says that you can add a little roux to the sauce once the cream is added to thicken it.  I find that if you let the sauce bubble away very very slowly, it comes to a very agreeable consistency all by itself.

Cream added to the mushrooms and onions

Cream added to the mushrooms and onions

It seems alot of work for such a simple sounding sauce, but it pays off.  I have two favourite ways of serving it; with lobster and linguine (Thanks Jared), and simply with roasted chicken thighs and some buttery orzo.

Roasted Chicken Thighs

Roasted Chicken Thighs

 

 

 

One bowl Chocolate Cake

My Dad, after retiring, decided to take an interest in cooking, and I have been trying to devise a chocolate cake recipe for him that is pretty much foolproof, no reflection on his ability.  I work very closely with my kenwood and other appliances so to make something in one simple bowl was challenging for me!

Of course in the back of my head I want to put together a number of recipes for my kids when they fly the coop.

One Pot Chocolate Cake

One Pot Chocolate Cake

Ingredients- Cake:

250g butter

300g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 eggs (medium)

200g self raising flour

50g cocoa

100g dark chocolate (60% Approx) chopped into pieces the size of chocolate buttons

Ingredients – Topping :

90g Butter

90g caster sugar

tin of condensed milk (397g)

50g dark chocolate (60% Approx)

250ml of cream

Method:

Melt the butter gently in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water.

Add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour and cocoa, mixing slowly at first so as not to create a dust storm.  Add the chocolate pieces.

Divide between 2 sandwich cake tins, that have been greased and lined.

Bake in a 180C fan oven for 25 mins.

Remove and leave to cool in their tins for 5 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, start the topping by melting the butter and sugar, add the condensed milk and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the 50g of chocolate until it’s melted then leave to cool.

Whisk the cream until stiff, then add 1/3 of the caramel/ chocolate icing. Mixing gently until almost combined.

When the cakes are completely cool (this is very important, youngest was in a hurry for it the first time I made it and started to slip and slide!) spread 1/3 of the cream mix on the bottom layer, swirl some of the caramel sauce on this, then top with the second cake. Dollop the rest of the cream on top.

Serve with a pot of tea and the remaining sauce on the side.  This sauce is really good on pancakes too.

Mmmmmmmm

Mmmmmmmm