Gin and Tonic Ice Lollies

Perfect for a hot summer’s day, these lollies are a doddle to make, lovely and refreshing and you can really taste the gin. Have a feeling we might be taking this base recipe and experimenting with different local gin and alternative tonic combos…there are worse projects!

Makes 10

What you need…

450ml tonic water

75ml gin

Juice of 1 lime

100ml elderflower cordial

A few thin slices of cucumber and mint leaves

What to do…

Tip the tonic, gin, lime juice and cordial into a jug, give it a quick stir and pour into 10 ice lolly moulds. Drop in cucumber and mint, pop in the lolly sticks (and lids) and freeze overnight. That’s it – cheers!

Inspired by…

Good Housekeeping

How easy…

It couldn’t be any easier, could it?!

 

 

 

Char Sui Marinade for Barbecued Chicken

I have a fabulous chicken marinade (already blogged) that is a firm favourite with everyone who’s tried it but we barbecue A LOT and so sometimes we fancy a change. I found the original of this little number in one of Rachel Allen’s cookbooks and it’s gorgeous – a marinade that lightly infuses the chicken with light, sweet, gently oriental flavours – a truly delightful alternative!

What you need…

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons light soft brown sugar

2 tablespoons root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 tablespoons maple syrup

50ml light soy sauce

50ml rice wine/dry sherry

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 teaspoons rapeseed oil

4 – 6 plump chicken breasts

What to do…

Chuck the lot in a bowl and stir together. Wodge the chicken in and pop in the fridge for the flavours to develop for between 2 and 12 hours.

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

I love barbecue marinades – a bit of mixing, abandon to the fridge and pass to John to barbie! Gotta love summer!

No-Churn Cinnamon Ice Cream and Caramelised Apples

What a marriage made in heaven these two are – hot sweet, boozy apple with simply gorgeous cinnamon ice cream which, whilst being simple, has a lovely, deep flavour. In combination…you’ll just reach for more! Oh, and one more thing: it’s dead easy!

What you need…

for the ice cream

300ml double cream

4 large, happy eggs, separated

100g caster sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

for the apples

25g unsalted butter

25g caster sugar

2 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into thick wedges

1 vanilla pod, split, seeds scraped

50ml brandy

What to do…

The day before you want to indulge in your ice cream, use an electric handheld whisk to beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Rinse the whisks and then in a second bowl, whip the cream until thickened. Rinse whisks again and then in a third bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until thickened and creamy in colour. Add the cinnamon and whisk again to combine.

Use a balloon whisk to fold the cream into the eggs and sugar and then gently fold in the egg whites. Pour your ice cream into a plastic container with a lid and pop into your freezer overnight. Et voilà – it’s done!

When your ready to indulge in this lovely pud, take the ice cream out of the freezer to soften a little (takes 10 – 15 minutes). Meanwhile, turn to the apples:

melt the butter and sugar in a pan, then add the apples, vanilla seeds and pod. Cook, turning regularly for 15 minutes, until tender and carmamelised (the smell is AMAZING). Pour in the brandy and bubble until smooth.

Serve your hot, sweet, naughty apple wedges with absolutely delicious cinnamon ice cream – wow oh wow oh wow!!!!!!

Tip…

The cinnamon ice cream is also truly amazing served with wine-poached pears!

Inspired by…

The initial idea was from Delicious magazine, but I swapped pears for apples and created a Rachel Allen ice cream alternative.

 

How easy…

 

The ice cream is unbelievably easy to make and has to be made in advance (tick in box). The caramelised apples are simple too and a joy to make – the caramelising cooking smell is heavenly and increases the anticipation of this terrific pud!

 

 

Favourite Chocolate Cake

So, almost as enthusiastic about cooking and food as her mother, Maddie was asked if there was anything that she would like me to cook on her return from uni. Given that I know how much time she spends trawling the blog and whinging that she’s not here to try it all, I was rather surprised that her instant and first response was….chocolate cake!!!! Anyway, here it is – slightly out of focus (we need to practice your camera skills, Madz) and with a rather manic looking version of me. This is our favourite recipe for chocolate cake and it disappears in a flash!!!!

What you need…

For the sponges, use the ingredients shown for the 365 Chocolate Celebration Cake recipe

For the chocolate buttercream filling and frosting, use double those shown in the 365 Chocolate Celebration Cake recipe

Pre-made chocolate decorations

What to do…

Follow the 365 recipe but slice the two sponges in half horizontally, creating four sponge tiers and use the increased gorgeous buttercream to sandwich all four together and spread all over the sides and top.

Decorate with pre-made chocolate decorations of your choice.

Inspired by…

My first blogged recipe: 365 Chocolate Celebration Cake

How easy…

Really easy and relaxing to make

 

 

Pomegranate, Tarragon and Maple Syrup Salad Dressing with Prawns

Creating unusual salads to accompany our many summer barbecues is something that I love to do and we have a long and varied list from which to choose from, most of which promise to convert even the hardened anti-saladist!!!! This one is fast becoming the favourite for this season – piquant, zesty, fresh and abundant in contrasting but complementary summer flavours – scrumptious!

What you need…

for the dressing

1 shallot, chopped finely

½ tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped finely

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ tablespoon pomegranate molasses (or balsamic for a slightly smoother taste)

5 tablespoons olive oil

5 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

1 tablespoon maple syrup

for the salad

225g cooked prawns

A generous handful of fresh coriander, chopped roughly

A small handful of mint, chopped finely

Your favourite leaves, torn (I used sorrel, rocket, and baby gem)

What to do…

Tip all of the dressing ingredients into your favourite salad bowl and use a fork to evenly mix together. Add the prawns and stir through. Pile the leaves on top and then cover with cling film and store in a cool place until ready to eat (I normally do this up to 2 hours in advance).

When ready to eat, toss the salad together so that all the leaves are covered with the dressing. Serve, ideally in the garden, as an aside to a barbie with good friends. Cheers!

Tip…

This would also work brilliantly with cold, sliced leftover duck or barbecued chicken instead of the prawns

Inspired by…

I saw a recipe in a magazine (can’t remember which) but didn’t have half the ingredients so ended up making this one up!

How easy…

Dead easy – just a case of chucking the ingredients in a bowl, mixing and enjoying.

Provençal Marinade (for barbecued lamb)

We use this marinade for lamb neck and it transforms a fairly uninspiring cut of meat into something that is absolutely luscious

What you need…

2 sprigs of thyme

2 sprigs of rosemary

2 bay leaves

4 garlic cloves, chopped

10 whole black peppercorns

150ml olive oil

50ml red wine vinegar

2 cuts of lamb neck

What to do…

Put all the ingredients except the vinegar and lamb into a small saucepan and over a moderate heat. Cook until the olive oil just comes to a simmer and than remove from the heat.

Add the vinegar and allow to cool.

Place the lamb neck into a shallow dish and pour over the marinade. Cover and pop in the fridge for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight. – barbie-ready!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

I don’t need to answer that – very little effort for a great deal of taste!

Mango and Passion Fruit ‘No-Churn’ Ice Cream with Rum

Wow-oh-wow! What a fabulous naughty ice cream for a sizzling summer’s day: cooling mango and oh so fresh passion fruit combined with a soft creaminess and then a lovely little kick of rum at the end. It tastes like a cocktail and immediately transports you to the beach. Incredibly easy – stock the freezer up now!

What you need…

4 passion fruit

300g mango, roughly chopped

300g double cream

½ a 397g can of condensed milk (use the other half to make a different flavour ice cream – I have blogged lots of recipes)

40ml dark rum

What to do…

Start by halving the passion fruit and scooping out the juice and flesh into a sieve over your blender. Use a spoon to push through as much of the juice as you can. Discard the remaining pips. Chuck in the mango and whizz to purée the whole lot together.

In a large bowl, use an electric handheld whisk to beat the cream into soft peaks. Pour in the condensed milk, fruit purée and rum and use a balloon whisk to gently fold everything together so the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Pour into a plastic container and whop into your freezer for 6 hours/overnight.

About 15 minutes before you want to dive into it, remove your delectable ice cream from the freezer to soften up. Serve in pretty bowls on a fabulous summer day or just dive right in with a spoon and refuse to share!

Inspired by…

Sometimes, I just wake up with these weird ideas and I had a glut of passion fruit in the fridge…

How easy…

Stupendously!

Double Chocolate Vanilla Ring Cake

Definitely a celebration cake this one (you can just celebrate the dawn of a new baking day). Rich and brownie-like in texture, albeit a little lighter, very moreish, and undoubtedly naughty with the sweet foil that is the oh-so-chocolatey frosting. If you love chocolate, you’ll adore this!

What you need…

1 x 20cm savarin/bundt cake mould, liberally buttered

150g unsalted butter, chunked

150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) chunked

125ml full fat milk

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

25g dark muscavado sugar

3 large, happy eggs

150g full fat Greek yogurt

200g plain flour

40g cocoa, sifted

1 rounded teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

150g golden caster sugar

for the frosting

200g milk chocolate (70% cocoa), chunked

40g unsalted butter, chunked

60g cocoa, sifted

120ml full fat milk

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

White chocolate shavings, to decorate

What to do…

First, to the cake: preheat your oven to 190˚c / 375˚f / gas 5.

Into a large, heatproof bowl, tip the butter, dark chocolate, milk, vanilla bean paste and muscavado sugar. Set over a pan of gentling simmering water and stir together to create a thin ‘cream’. Remove from the heat, add the eggs and yogurt and use a handheld electric whisk to beat together the ingredients.

In another large bowl, use a metal spoon to mix together the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and golden caster sugar. Pour over the melted chocolate mixture and use a sturdy balloon whisk to mix together all the ingredients gently.

Pour this gooey loveliness into your savarin mould and pop into your oven to bake for 30-40 minutes or until set and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool completely in its tin before inverting it onto a serving plate.

To the frosting: in a large bowl, melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of gentling simmering water until smooth. Add the cocoa, milk, maple syrup and vanilla bean paste and use a balloon whisk to beat together to create a thick, glossy, gloopy frosting.

Generously trickle the frosting over the top of the cake – now is not a time for precision or neatness – let it dribble down the sides and keep going with the trickling and dribbling, until it’s all gone and looks as naughty as it tastes. Sprinkle over white chocolate shavings (created by grating the edge of a good quality white chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler).

Pop into an airtight container ready to serve a few hours later when the frosting is still gooey and soft – absolutely and decadently delicious.

Tip…

I made the sponge cake the day before I needed it, leaving it overnight in its mould in an airtight cake tin, so all I needed to do on the day of indulgence was the frosting – the cake remained moist and fresh and to make it was very relaxing.

Inspired by…

The Mail on Sunday’s ‘You’ magazine

How easy…

Very easy, especially if you split the cake making from the decorating (see tip)

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Strawberries for Breakfast

What better way to start the day? Pull up a chair in a sunny patio spot, admire the blue skies, the warmth of the sun and the birds singing – I kid you not: absolute bliss! Add to this perfect list of ingredients some sweet English strawberries and a really good espresso….and relax…

What you need…

All of the above or a similar delightful setting

A slice or two of sourdough bread, toasted

A goodly portion of ricotta

A handful of sweet, ripe strawberries, sliced (and English if possible)

A drizzle of maple syrup

A sprig of mint, to garnish (optional)

What to do…

Load your sourdough toast with as much ricotta as you fancy. Top with as many strawberries slices as you like and then drizzle with maple syrup. Serve with really good espresso in the garden! Absolutely delicious.

Inspired by…

I had something similar in a fab cafe in Portsmouth last summer and this is my take on it – it just tastes like you think an English summer breakfast should!

How easy…

Do I need to specify that…?

 

Cheat’s Mango and Passion Fruit Soufflé

Heavenly, light and fluffy, tangy and bursting with sunshine, this generally rather gorgeous soufflé also has the added benefit of being ridiculously quick and easy to make: literally less than 30 minutes from gathering the ingredients together to inserting the spoon into its light lusciousness!

Serves 4

What you need…

4 ramekin dishes, liberally buttered

20g caster sugar, plus extra for sugar-coating

100ml ready-made custard

75ml mango purée (I used fresh but you could used tinned)

3 ripe passion fruit

4 large, happy egg whites

Icing sugar, sifted, for dusting

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200˚c / 400˚f / gas 6.

Shake roughly half a tablespoon of caster sugar into a ramekin dish and rotate the dish around so that all of the insides are coated evenly. Tap out the excess sugar into the next ramekin and repeat the process, adding more sugar if necessary – repeat until all four dishes are sugar-coated inside.

Tip the custard and mango into your blender. Scoop out the seeds and juice from the passion fruit and tip them in as well. Whizz until combined and then push through a sieve.

In a large, clean bowl, beat the egg whites with a handheld electric whisk until stiff. Gradually, add in the 20g caster sugar, whilst still whisking to create a smooth, glossy meringue.

Pour in the sieved passion fruit and mango custard and use a balloon whisk to gently and evenly fold the mixture into the meringue.

Divide the mixture between the ramekin dishes and use a palette knife to level off the surface of each soufflé. Run your finger around the edge of each tone to lift the mixture away from the side slightly.

Pop in your oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the soufflés have risen spectacularly. Dust with icing sugar and devour – light, heavenly and full of sunshine!

Inspired by…

Paul Hollywood, as published in The Mail’s ‘Weekend’.

How easy…

Really quick and easy. Will definitely be doing these again!

 

 

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