Tag Archives: recipe

Bananas about Banana Bread

As usual we had too many bananas.  Reason? The eldest, the main banana consumer in the family, had gone orienteering in Sweden.  Now, I know the lowly banana has split many camps in regard to ethical/ organic / food miles.  but in reality, I think bananas are probably here to stay. So however uncomfortable I am about them, they are the essence of food used by orienteerers. Easily digestible and prepared food.  But now, with the *monkey* absent, a few bananas were going brown in the fruit basket. I took down a reasonable “posh” cookbook off my recipesto-try shelf.

Continue reading

Strawberry Heaven in a tart

Who doesn’t associate strawberries with Summer? I know you can now get strawberries all year round, but honestly, there is NOTHING better than in season, local strawberries.  And as my love of pastry is always lurking somewhere beneath the surface, strawberries+ pastry= strawberry heaven.

As much as I always love my favourite recipes and make them often, it’s nice to try new things.  I picked up “The Boy Who Bakes”- Edd Kimber while in the UK on a trip.  Although I follow him on #Instagram, I had never seen him on TV on the GBBO, or tried one of his recipes.  Until now.

Continue reading

Rocket Gnudi- Yep I’d never heard of them either

My Mum and Dad are great at spying recipes for me to try, and when they proudly presented me with this particular Gnudi one, there was a definite hint of -I’ve-stumped-you-now in my father’s eye.  But never one to resist a challenge, I went about making some. This recipe is  from the book – Too Good To Waste by Victoria Glass.

Technically dumplings, these billowy puffs of cheese are from Tuscany originally, where ricotta replaced potato in the more common Gnocchi. Gnudi is an English-adopted Tuscan word for the Italian term “nudi” (naked), the idea being that these balls of ricotta (and sometimes spinach) are “nude ravioli”, consisting of just the tasty filling without the pasta shell. Fine with me. I’m not adverse to a bowl of nude pasta if push comes to shove.

Rocket Gnudi

Ingredients:

150g Rocket/ or you could probably use baby spinach

250g ricotta

50g freshly grated Parmesan

1 egg, beaten

1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

250g semolina

Sage butter or tomato passata sauce to serve.

Method:

Place the rocket in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon of boiling water and heat until the leaves are just wilted. Drain well, cool and chop finely.  Mix this chopped rocket together with the ricotta, parmesan, egg, nutmeg, salt and some black pepper in a bowl.

Gnudi

Pour the semolina into a separate shallow bowl.

Gnudi

Wet your hands (to prevent sticking) and roll a walnut sized piece of ricotta mixture into balls in between your palms. Then coat this in semolina, leaving it to one side in the semolina dish when you move onto the next ball.

Continue like this until all the balls are used up.  Then roll all the balls again through the semolina to make sure that they are well coated.

Gnudi

At this stage they need to go uncovered into the fridge for at least 48 hours. Here the gnudi will develop a skin to make them easier to cook.  They can be frozen in a container at this stage.

When you are ready to cook the gnudi, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.  Adding a few gnudi at a time to this water, you will know when they are cooked as they will start to float.  Using a slotted spoon remove the cooked gnudi to a frying pan with sizzling melted butter to finish them off.

Rocket Gnudi

Rocket Gnudi

I love them just like this, with extra parmesan, but you could throw them into a bowl of bubbling passata if you were feeling indulgent.  Whatever way you chose they are divine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portugese Egg Custard Tarts- Easy and Tasty

These little beauties, also known as Pastel de nata are so moreish I’m forever grateful I don’t live near Portugal, I’d be the size of a house!  The history of them is very interesting, as they were originally made in FRANCE!

Pastéis de nata (the Portugese name means pastry cream as far as I can see, already winning me over) were thought to be created during the 18th century by Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery, Santa Maria de Belém, in Lisbon. These monks were originally based in France where these pastries were found in local bakeries. At the time, convents and monasteries used large quantities of egg-whites for starching clothes, such as nuns’ habits. It was therefore quite common for monasteries and convents to use the leftover egg yolks to make cakes and pastries, resulting in the proliferation of sweet pastry recipes throughout the country.

Portugese Custard Tart

Pasteis de Belem

Following the extinction of the religious orders in the aftermath of the Liberal Revolution of 1820, the monks started selling these dainty little pastries at a nearby sugar refinery to bring in some revenue. In 1834 the monastery was finally closed and the recipe was sold to the sugar refinery, whose owners in 1837 opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém. The descendants own the business to this day, a Portugese stalwart.  In this recipe I use bought puff pastry, but plan on making them again in a few weeks with homemade puff pastry.  My aim was to get the filling right.  And I think I did.  They were EXTREMELY popular.

Portugese Egg Custard Tarts

Ingredients:

1 egg
3 egg yolks
120g caster sugar
30g cornflour
400ml full fat milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (use good stuff please!)
1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry, I like the lidl one.

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Method:

Lightly grease a 12 hole muffin tin and pre-heat oven to 180oC

Put the egg, yolks,  caster sugar & cornflour in a saucepan and mix well together then gradually add the milk until mixture is well mixed and smooth.

Custard

Place pan on medium heat and stir constantly until mixture thickens and comes to the boil. Remove pan from heat and stir in your vanilla extract.

Put this custard aside to cool.  I dust with icing sugar then cover with cling film, to prevent skin forming.

Roll the pastry on your lightly floured counter, and using a cutter,  cut this into 12 even sized rounds. Press the pastry discs into the muffin tin. I like if they are a bit ruffled.
Tarts

Spoon in your now cooled custard, sprinkle over the cinnamon and bake for 20 minutes until nicely golden on top.

Tarts
Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then move to a cooling rack to finish cooling although they can be eaten warm.  You frankly won’t be able to stop the hoardes.

Divine.

My One-pot chicken pilaf Recipe

I love love LOVE cooking in the kitchen. But I think if I won the lotto my first splurge would be on a kitchen porter.  Sometimes the washing up just gets to me.  But no need for the help when making this beautiful and fresh pilaf, it’s made in one pot. The term pilaf is borrowed directly from the Turkish pilav. I actaully associate a rice pilaf with Indian Cooking, for my it’s very like Biryani.

If you could research the history of rice pilaf, you could tell the history of the world to at least as far back as Alexander the Great. It’s a dish that is ubiquitous across most of the world’s cuisines. This is probably because it is such a great dish for large gatherings. To make a large pot of rice pilaf is not much more difficult than to make a small pot.  And the washing up is also the same!

Every region adds their own distinct flavours to the dish. In India, rice pilaf is called pulao and it has many variations from region to region. It is most popular in the northern areas, such as Kashmir and Gujarat.  Alexander the Great is said to have first eaten pilaf in the Bactria region of Iran, which is now a part of Afghanistan. Bactria is where his wife, Roxana, was most likely born. I can imagine pots of fragrant rice pilaf being served at gatherings for ancient dignitaries, perhaps even his wedding (I’m just guessing here).

One-pot chicken pilaf

Chicken pilaf

Good range of colour in the ingredients

SERVES 4
Ingredients
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 teaspoons of curry paste (choose your favourite, or make your own)
a third of a mug basmati rice
two-thirds of a mug chicken stock (hot)
1 mug frozen peas
1 mug of leaf spinach, washed.
Method
Heat the oil in a frying pan, then fry the onion for 5-6 mins until softened.
Chicken

Chicken pilaf

Still looks a little beige at this stage

Add the chicken pieces, fry for a further couple of minutes just to colour the outside, then stir in curry paste and rice. Cook this for another minute.

Pour in the hot chicken stock. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, then cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally . Scatter over the spinach, cover, then cook for 10 mins more until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender. Now add the peas, (in this case I added them too soon so they look like they’ve been sitting in a carvery for a month, but still taste good). Give everything a good stir, season to taste, then tuck in.
Chicken
Divine.

Lemon Traybake

There’s nothing like producing a cake when someone calls for tea.  It makes everyone feel a little special. And this is SO easy.  Start to finish in 45 minutes, including the washing up.

Lemon Traybake

Lemon Cake

Lemon Traybake Ingredients

Ingredients

225g Caster sugar

225g butter (soft)

4 eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

225g Self Raising Flour

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

2 lemons

1 tablespoon of milk

Icing:

150g caster sugar

Method:

Cream the sugar and the butter VERY well.  Add the eggs, vanilla extract and the flour, baking powder in alternate additions.  Zest the two lemons into the mixture at this stage.  Keeping the lemons for juicing for the icing.  Add some milk if the mixture seems too thick. It needs to drop reluctantly when lifted up with a spoon.

Beat VERY well, and spread carefully into the greased and lined baking tray.  If you don’t have a suitable container, like the traditional swiss roll tin, then just use some sandwich cake tins, or even make the mixture into cupcakes.

Lemon Cake

Ready for the Oven

Bake either at 160oC, for 12 minutes for the cupcakes, and 25 minutes for the traybake.

Once out of the oven immediately prick gently all over the sponge with a skewer.

Untitled

Mix the lemon juice from the zested lemons with the 150g of caster sugar, and pour this over the cake while it is still warm.
Lemon Cake
Leave to cool before slicing.

Untitled

Divine!

 

Tom Kerridge’s Lemon Pepper Chicken

The Recipe

Sometimes looking through cookbooks for recipes can be fun.  Other times you see a recipe that you REALLY want to make, but don’t have the ingredients… and couldn’t be bothered heading out especially to get them. This was my case here. I liked the look of the picuture of this dish  and  wanted to try it.

Tom Kerridge

I’ve been a Tom Kerridge fan for a long time.  And he’s on my places-I-want-to-eat-in-the-next-24-months list. Sooner if I can.  I love his use of ingredients.  In this case the green pepper salsa was intriguing.  I feel the green pepper is the least interesting or edible of all peppers.  I never eat it in a Chinese takeaway, I personally think of it as the bitter relative. Of course the other problem was that I had no green peppers.  Just red ones.

Red Pepper

So I got to work sorting out what ingredients I had, and had not got.

Chicken √

New Potatoes √

Onion √

Lemon (yup- but not particularly fresh) √

Honey (not runny though) √

Garlic, Olive oil, Mustard  √√√

Tom Kerridge

The Prep

No green peppers, no fresh herbs.  Fresh herbs are rare enough at this time of year, and my shopping budget doesn’t run to buying fresh herbs for a day to day meal.  Therefore the ole herb de provence was called into play. And I just subsituted the red peppers for the green.  BUT I got distracted- and the peppers took on more colour than I hoped.  So I added some creme fraiche to make a creamy sauce instead.

Note to self: don’t get distracted. Hmm.  Easier said then done.

My not-having-all-the-ingredients-take on Tom Kerridge’s Chicken dish

It’s a beautifully simple dish to assemble.  And you could, if you are more organised than me, marinade the chicken in the morning, or the night before.  And apart from the perfunctory chopping, there’s not much manual labour.

The result was very tasty indeed.  I think because I was using a non- runny honey it was less licky and thus caramelised a little- but then as Rory O’Connell always says- colour is flavour

 

 

 

The Blood Orange- a fruit of great beauty

It’s orange time of year.  Just when the body is at it’s lowest, mother nature responds with the season of vitamin C rich fruit.  Granted they are not native to our shores, but at least the majority we import are European.  The Seville oranges make such beautiful marmalade, but the blood oranges make beautiful ANYTHING.

blood orange

Blood Orange Beauty

 

The distinctive red flesh colour is due to the presence of anthocyanins (a family of antioxidant pigments not normally associated with citrus fruits.  The flesh develops its characteristic maroon colour when the fruit develops with low temperatures during the night.

You can use them simply as a snack, or add the juice to a fancy cocktail.  They are really good as an ice cream or sorbet ingredient too.  And can be used where an orange is called for in any baking or cooking.  But I feel unless you can show off their beautiful colour, just use ordinary oranges and save the blood oranges for the extraordinary occasion.

I’ve made a couple of things to showcase the most fabulous of citrus fruits. I feel slightly bad as I regularly turn to the humble lemon for a last minute dinner or dessert.  But there’s no denying it, the blood orange has a certain je ne sais quoi.

First I made Richard Bertinet’s Blood Orange Tart from his deliciousy lickable book “Patisserie Maison“. I wasn’t entirely happy with the colour.  But the flavour of the curd was like velvet.  A real treat worthy of the effort involved with any tart.

Blood Orange Tart

And as I had leftover oranges (*smiles*) I decided to be even more adventurous and try some macaron. I filled them with both raspberry curd and blood orange buttercream.

Blood Orange

Blood Orange Buttercream and Raspberry Curd

And they were DIVINE- and that’s saying something as I’m not the biggest fan.

Blood Orange Macaron

Macaron

Cauliflower and Macaroni Cheese

Pasta with cheese sauce casseroles have been around far longer than you imagine. In the 14th century in the Italian cookbook by Brian Liber de Coquina, one of the oldest medieval cookbooks, which featured a dish of parmesan cheese and pasta.  The oldest recorded recipe of a casserole with a cheese bechamel sauce, with pasta is from 1770.  But the doyenne of British cookery, Mrs Beeton, valued the dish so much that she put not one, but two versions of the now classic into her housekeeping book. Nowadays this type of cooking is classed as comfort food.  And there’s nothing at all wrong with that.

Cauliflower and Macaroni Cheese

Ingredients:

300g macaroni

1 medium cauliflower, washed and cut into florets

75g butter

75g flour

600ml milk

150g your favourite cheddar, coarsely grated

75g breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon of herbes de provence
Cauliflower
Method

Heat the grill to its highest setting and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta for 4 mins, then add the cauliflower for a further 8 mins. Drain, reserving 100ml of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pan over a low heat and stir in the flour. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken. Bubble for a few mins, then remove from the heat. Add the cheese, the reserved cooking water and seasoning to taste.
Cauliflower

Tip the pasta and cauliflower into a large casserole dish and stir through the cheese sauce. Mix together the breadcrumbs and herbs and scatter over the top.
Cauliflower
Grill for 5 mins until bubbling.
Cauliflower
Divine!

Give this biscuit recipe a whirl….

I’ve taken to trying a different biscuit recipe each week. It’s tea and biscuit weather let’s be honest.  Well that’s my excuse.  My grandmother was very fond of Viennese Whirl biscuits, especially when she had people around for coffee.  I’ve tried various recipes over the years, and the biggest challenge is piping the mixture.  I think I’ve finally cracked the proportions of dry to wet.  At last!

Viennese Whirls

You can leave them undipped, but they are just lush dipped in chocolate.  The darker the better.  You can also make round ones, and fill them with jam and vanilla buttercream if you are going !all out!.

 

Viennese Whirls

Viennese Whirls

Ingredients:

100g Butter, VERY soft

40g Icing Sugar

100g Strong Flour

1 heaped teaspoon of cornflour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon Vanilla paste

1 tablespoon of full fat milk

100g chocolate for melting

Method:

Preheat the oven to 140oC.  Line a baking tray with parchment or non stick reusable paper.

Cream the butter and the icing sugar very well in your mixer.  As this is a small amount you need to keep scraping down the sides until you get an even and consistency and a light colour.

Add the dry ingredients and the vanilla.  Mix again thoroughly, again scraping down the sides.  Add enough milk until you feel you can pipe it.  This is a tricky part. Too soft if won’t hold it’s ridges, too stiff it won’t pipe.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle.

Pipe 10cm lengths, and maybe a few rosettes.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Cool on the tray.

While the biscuits are cooling, melt the chocolate in a smallish bowl (helps to keep the depth of the chocolate, therefore easier to dip).

Biscuits
Gently dip one end of each cooked biscuit into the chocolate and then leave to set on a parchment lined tray.

Biscuits

Divine!