Strawberry and Balsamic Compote

This is without question my favourite jam. The wonderfully unique and luscious flavour that is English strawberries at the height of summer seems to be beautifully intensified by the addition of balsamic vinegar and this is so damned easy, there’s no reason not to have a fresh jar in your fridge throughout the summer and early autumn.

Makes 1 medium jar

What you need…

1 x clean jam jar

500g strawberries, hulled

125g caster sugar

2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

What to do…

First, sterilise your jam jar by popping it and its lid into your oven, preheated to 170˚c / gas 3, for 10 minutes. Turn the oven off, leaving the jar and its lid inside until the compote is ready.

To the compote: tip the strawberries, sugar and 1tablespoon balsamic vinegar into a medium sized, heavy saucepan. Set over a moderate-low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Then, simmer gently for 40-50 minutes until the strawberries have stewed down and thickened.

Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining balsamic vinegar. Pour into your jam jar, whop on the lid and leave to cool before keeping in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

How easy…

Wonderfully! Once it’s simmering, I set a timer and wander off to do something else, enjoying the fragrance of molten strawberries permeating the house.

Inspired by…

Waitrose & Partners

Roasted Cherries with Maple Syrup and Rosemary

Rather gorgeous, these cherries are quite delicious on their own or fabulous as an accompaniment, both warm and cold, to cheeses and ice creams: well worth doing…very yummy!

What you need…

400g cherries, pitted and halved

3 tablespoons maple syrup

4 rosemary sprig, bruised

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180˚c / gas 4.

Combine the cherries with the maple syrup and rosemary on a baking tray. Scatter with a pinch of salt and roast for 30-40 minutes, until the cherries just start to wrinkle and give up some of their juice. Immediately stir through the lemon juice.

Remove the rosemary sprigs and serve as a warm topping with mascarpone or ricotta, on ice cream or as a side with goat’s cheese. They’re equally good cold with blue cheese or brie, to jazz up a salad or as part of breakfast!

Inspired by…

My Waitrose

How easy…

Fabulously so!

Rather Luscious Rhubarb and Ginger Pavlova

Absolutely bloody gorgeous (ABG) – saw James Martin do this a few weeks ago on TV and thought I’d give it a bash. I used my favourite meringue recipe though, from Lisa Faulkner, but incorporated James’ suggested divine flavours of rhubarb and ginger. This will be repeated!

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

for the meringue

1 x baking tray, lined with parchment

3 egg whites

Pinch of salt

250g caster sugar, plus 3 – 4 teaspoons for the cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon malt vinegar

3 teaspoons diced ginger in syrup

for the topping

1 x baking tray

600g rhubarb, cut into 5cm pieces

1 tablespoon ginger syrup

300ml double cream

Caster sugar, to taste

2 teaspoons diced ginger in syrup

What to do…

First, to the rhubarb. Preheat your oven to 200˚c / 400˚f/ gas 6.  Scatter the rhubarb evenly across the baking tray and then drizzle with 1 tablespoon of syrup from a jar of diced ginger in syrup. Roast for 10-15 minutes, until just soft. Set aside to cool.

Reduce your oven to 140°c / 275°f / gas 1.

Using an handheld electric whisk, beat the egg whites and salt together until very stiff. Then, gradually whisk in the 250g caster sugar until it forms stiff peaks – this takes 3 – 4 minutes. Fold in the vanilla extract , vinegar and ginger.

Plop the meringue mixture onto your baking tray, gently spreading it to roughly create a 23cm circle. Pop it into the oven and leave for 1 hour until firm. Then – and this is key – switch the oven off but leave your meringue in for a further 30 minutes with the door closed.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Discard the lining paper and put your meringue onto a pretty serving plate.

Whisk the cream, roasting juices from the rhubarb and diced ginger together with and 3 – 4 teaspoons of caster sugar (the amount of sugar depends on your personal taste) until stiff and then pile on top of the meringue. Arrange the rhubarb on top, stand back, admire your handy work and then serve – a gooey chewy meringue middle is complemented by sweet, crisp exterior. Sweet, cloud-like cream and slightly tart rhubarb, all the with gorgeous backdrop of ginger – ABG!

Inspired by…

James Martin Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Very, very easy and simply delicious!

 

Strawberry & Prosecco Celebration Cake with Chocolate Drizzle

What’s not to like? Sweet ripe strawberries separate four tiers of delicious light vanilla sponge, which in turn are moistened with a Prosecco syrup and encased in a Prosecco-infused buttercream – gorgeous just like that but even better with a little chocolate drizzle over the top! A fabulous summer cake, inspired by a recipe from Good Housekeeping, June 2017.

 

The Callista Project!

People keep asking me what the next culinary extravaganza is going to be. The cookbook will be put together when the British summertime (?!) recedes. In the meantime, the experimentation and sheer joy of indulging in great food will continue but my focus will be for a while on Callista (meaning beautiful) – Callie for short – the latest addition to our home – a little bundle of mischievous gorgeousness who is keeping us entertained but does slow down the kitchen prep somewhat!

A Skeleton of Ice Creams

The 100th  of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cookbook, this is a selection of my favourite, and oh-so-easy ice creams. Why a skeleton not selection? Down to adventuring girl, Maddie x

When Maddie was really little and just getting the hang of the old reading lark, she insisted on perusing a restaurant menu to consider her dessert options (rather than the traditional approach of one of us reading the options out to her).

After much deliberation, she announced that she would like a skeleton of ice creams and from that day forward….well a selection is somewhat boring in comparison, isn’t it?!

So, here we have my own personal favourite ‘skeleton of ice creams’, most of which are created from the simple base combination that is condensed milk and double cream. In every case, there’s no churning involved and no popping backwards and forwards from the freezer to stir out the crystals (who has time?!) Instead, these are a joy to make, taking just minutes to knock up and are simply wonderful to indulge in.

The key for the condensed milk/double cream flavours is to mix together 600ml double cream with a full 397g tin of condensed milk; and then divide the total mixture into two smaller bowls to create a goodly but not gigantic amount of  two separate ice cream flavours, e.g. mint and chocolate chip with one half and coffee and kahlua with the other half.  It can get quite addictive and you may end up with a freezer full of different pots of ice cream ….no problem there though!

Black Forest Gateau Ice Cream

Spectacular! I dreamed up this combination in that lovely time of the morning that is the dawning of the mind as well as the sun in the sky….and this is the type of stuff I come up with!!!! What can I tell you – it’s absolutely bloody gorgeous – the Kirsch-steeped cherries work so well with the sweetness of the base ice cream and the dark chocolate rippling through it. Mount this lovely deliciousness atop shortbread, sprinkle some grated dark chocolate over the top and it becomes quite the elegant dessert!

What you need…

300ml double cream

½ of a 397g tin of condensed milk (see tip)

150ml black cherries, pitted and roughly torn up

3 tablespoons Kirsch (cherry liqueur)

40g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

What to do…

The day before you want to make your ice cream, tip the torn cherries into a bowl, pour over the Kirsch, cover with cling film and pop into the fridge overnight to let the flavours develop.

When you’re ready to make your ice cream, roughly break up the chocolate and pop it into a heatproof bowl. Put the bowl over a steamer, sitting in a saucepan of simmering water and melt. Remove from the steamer and set aside to cool slightly (to touch).

Meanwhile, use an electric hand held whisk to beat the double cream to form soft peaks. Pour in the condensed milk and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in so that it is evenly incorporated.

Use a spatula to scrape the ‘marinated’ cherries and liquid into the bowl and gently but thoroughly mix together. Pour over the chocolate and use a skewer to swirl the chocolate throughout the ice cream, creating a chocolate ‘ripple’ effect.

Cover with cling film and pop into the freezer for at least 6 hours.

Be very excited when it’s ready because it really is spectactular! Salivating as I type!

Tip…

If you want to present the ice cream as per the picture, wrap foil around the bottom of some chef’s rings or cookie cutters and plop the ice cream inside the moulds before freezing, pressing it in to make sure there are no gaps. Use a ring/cutter of the same size to cut out the shortbread bases from the recipe, ‘Proper Old-Fashioned Shortbread’.

Sensationally Sinful Coffee and Kahlua Ice Cream

Having experimented with three ice cream flavours last week, I went back and quadrupled the recipe for this one – seriously it falls under the heading of ‘stratospherically stupendous and sinfully good!’ I’m not joking – it’s also REALLY addictive (I can practically hear it whispering from the freezer, ‘have some more, you know you want to!’ Moving on to the practicalities, it’s also so easy and quick to make and the result is luscious, decadent, silky smooth and tantalisingly tempting! Make it once and you’ll be hooked!!!

What you need…

300ml double cream

½ a 397g (1 tin) condensed milk

2 espresso coffees/100ml VERY strong coffee (cold)

1 tablespoon camp coffee

2 tablespoons Kahlua/coffee liqueur

What to do….

Use an electric hand held whisk to beat the double cream to form soft peaks. Pour in the condensed milk and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in so that it is evenly incorporated.

Pour in the cold espresso, Camp coffee and Kahlua and stir to incorporate. Pour into a plastic container, pop the lid on and stick it in the freezer for at least 6 hours. Indulge, enjoy, immerse yourself in the sheer gorgeousness of it! You’ve probably worked out that it’s a favourite of mine.

For an exotic alternative…

Simply add 12 – 15 cardamom seeds at the same time as the coffee and Kahlua- it adds an extra dimension that is a wonderful aromatic, slightly spicy and exotic Middle-Eastern flavour that somehow intensifies the coffee – fabulous! The only problem we now have is which version we prefer the most – with or without the cardamoms!!!

Lemon Curd and Limoncello Ice Cream

Wow! Lemon Curd and Limoncello Ice Cream – where to start?! This glorious ice cream is rich and creamy whilst also lemon-tangy and refreshing. It’s sweet but not too sweet and then we have the not insubstantial quantity of the fabulous Limoncello Italian liqueur running through it – this element tips the ice cream into the realms of grown up and quite sensational. Enjoy on a hot summers day or to conclude a lovely dinner. Or – in the name of the blog – at just after midday on a Monday!!!! Any excuse! It truly is scrumptious though and dead easy to make!

What you need…

300ml double cream

½ a 397g (1 tin) condensed milk

170g (normally half a jar) lemon curd – homemade or shop-bought

90ml Limoncello Italian lemon liqueur

What to do…

Use an electric hand held whisk to beat the double cream to form soft peaks. Pour in the condensed milk, lemon curd and Limoncello and use a balloon whisk to gently fold them in so that they are all evenly incorporated. Taste. Add in a little more Limoncello if required (!)

Pour into a plastic container, pop the lid on and stick it in the freezer for at least 6 hours.

Mango and Passion Fruit 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

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.

Mint and Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

What you need…

300ml double cream

½ of a 397g tin of condensed milk

Green food colouring (I use icing colouring which comes as a thick gel)

1 ½ teaspoons peppermint extract

60g dark chocolate chips

What to do…

Use an electric hand held whisk to beat the double cream to form soft peaks. Pour in the condensed milk and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in so that it is evenly incorporated.

Tip in the peppermint extract. Insert a cocktail stick into the icing colouring and then dip it into the ice cream mixture – a little goes a really long way. Use a balloon whisk to gently but thoroughly mix together and add more colouring until you achieve the colour you like. (If you are using liquid food colouring, add ¼ teaspoon at a time until you achieve the colour you like).

Chuck in the chocolate chips and stir in thoroughly.  Pour your ice cream into a bowl or tub,  cover with cling film and pop into the freezer for at least 6 hours.

Inspired by…

The base mixture of double cream and condensed milk is courtesy of the wonderful Mary Berry. From there, I experiment with flavours by chucking in all sorts of combinations.

And for something slightly different in the making…

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Quite simply, one of my favourite ice creams, best served with poached pears, carmamelised apples or just on it’s own with a spoon, somewhere private!

What you need…

300ml double cream

4 large, happy eggs, separated

100g caster sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

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!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

Affogato al Caffe e Disaronno

Wow! This is just Naughty with a massively capital ‘N’.  Ice cream, Disaronno, espresso and chocolate: it tastes like a combination of Italy’s boozy trifle, Tiramisu and my favourite cocktail, Espresso Martini.  Equally, we started off eating it with a sundae spoon and ended up drinking it! The biggest problem is that it makes you greedy to get the lot down as quickly as possible, so fantastically naughty, it is! Made in seconds, this could become a really wicked little habit! What can I say: you need to try it!

Serves 1 (but that would be sad: double up and share with your favourite person)

What you need…

1 scoop of ice cream (vanilla or coffee and Kahlua) work brilliantly

1 tablespoon Disaronno

1 shot freshly made espresso coffee

1 teaspoon good quality dark chocolate, finely grated

What to do…

Wodge ice cream into the bottom of a pretty glass or small cup.

Pour over the Disaronno, then the espresso and then, sprinkle over the chocolate.

Immediately dive in with your spoon, marvel at the wicked gorgeousness of it, plunge in the spoon a couple more times before discarding it to drink the rest of your affogato! There’s probably a more elegant way of enjoying this but….this level of naughtiness deserves some gusto!

Tips…

You are supposed to use cold espresso, but we like it hot, gradually melting the ice cream, as we indulge. Either way: Yum!

If you are not quite as partial to Disaronno as I am, you could always swap it for Baileys.

There’s nothing to stop you mucking about with the quantities of any of the ingredients in this pudding-cum-cocktail.

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Dangerously so!

Tips for all the ice creams…

Once out of the freezer, these ice creams take about 10-15 minutes to reach the consistency whereby you can easily scoop it out.

How easy…

I have only used ice cream recipes that are quick and easy to knock up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watermelon, Feta and Olive Salad with Mint

The 99th of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cookbook, this salad is a wonderfully refreshing and sunshiny lunch – perfect with a glass of rosé – al fresco on a warm June day….unlike today!

A wonderful refreshing but satisfying salad that beautifully marries the earthiness of feta and olives with the bursting sunshine, juiciness and freshness of watermelon. A perfect light lunch or starter, the addition of aromatic, fresh mint just finishes it off. Very yummy and dare I say it, quite healthy too!!!!

What you need…

½ small watermelon, peeled deseeded and chunked

½ cucumber, peeled, halved lengthways, deseeded and sliced

200g feta cheese, chunked

90g pitted black olives

A small handful mint, chopped

for the dressing

4 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

First, tip the dressing ingredients into a screw top jar, pop on the lid and shake like mad.

Tip all the salad ingredients, except the feta, into a pretty salad bowl, pour in the dressing and thoroughly mix together. Gently stir in the feta – too energetic an approach and the feta will crumble. Job done! Serve and enjoy this very moreish, rather gorgeous salad!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Ridiculously!

 

 

Light and Lovely Lemon Mousse

The 98th of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cookbook, this is the most gorgeous lemon mousse, that I HAD to re-make today to take a better photograph than my last one…the things I do for this blog…spoon now in mousse…

What can I tell you – light, fresh, yummy, yummy, yummy, zesty, sweet, heavenly springs to mind. This is just a lovely, lovely lemon mousse that takes a bit of effort but is soooooo worth it. Try it and I guarantee you’ll add it to your favourites list!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x 1 pint mould, filled with cold water

1½ dessertspoons gelatine powder

45ml cold water

1½ eggs (I know! See tip!)

1 egg yolk

50g caster sugar

65ml lemon juice

Grated zest of 1½ lemons

125ml double cream, lightly whisked to soft peaks

What to do…

Take a large bowl (bigger than the one that you are going to whisk the eggs and sugar in), tip in a load of ice, top up with water and set aside.

Put a large saucepan over the heat with a steamer and bring to a simmer.

Tip the gelatine into the water to soften. Set aside.

Put the eggs and yolk with the sugar into a large heatproof bowl and pop into the steamer. Use a handheld electric whisk and beat for between 5 and 10 minutes until the mixture is pale and fluffy and the whisk leaves a distinct trail.

Remove from the heat, setting onto a tea towel on your worktop to prevent slipping. Add the lemon juice and zest and continue to whisk until the mixture is cool.

Stick the gelatine into a microwave for a few seconds to melt and then tip into the mixture. Whisk to incorporate.

Put your mixture bowl into the iced water bowl and pop in a balloon whisk. For 15 – 20 minutes (whilst you clear up) keep coming back to the mixture and give it a gentle little whisk, also scraping down the side of the bowl until the mixture is just starting to set.  Fold in the cream so that it is evenly incorporated.

Empty the water from your mould and then tip your mixture in. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. To ‘unmould’, fill your sink with hot water to a height just below that of your mould. Pop the mould into the water and remove when you see the sides of the mousse just coming away from the mould. Invert onto a pretty plate (remember to breathe – it will plop out – I promise!!!) and serve to a very appreciative audience! Enjoy – it is simply heavenly!

Tip…

This is half the original recipe – works perfectly for us when we’re on our own but obviously, you can’t really have half an egg. For the half, chuck an egg in a measuring jug, beat it with a fork just to mix it all together, see how much liquid there is and the chuck half down the sink. Sorry, but there it is: either this or double up and invite friends around or eat a lot of lemon mousse (not necessarily a problem!!!)

Inspired by…

No idea! Another once clipped from a magazine years ago that I have made and enjoyed successfully over at least 2 decades!

How easy…

It is easy, but it does take time and there’s quite a lot of clearing up. That said, it can be prepared 24 hours in advance so hey, job done if you have friends coming around!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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