Coconut Panna Cotta with Caramelised Pineapple

This fabulous dessert bursts with exotic flavours and shouts tropical paradise! Cool, refreshing and rich coconut partying alongside warm, caramelised pineapple – a lovely duo that is equally gorgeous separately!

Serves 4

What you need…

4 dariole moulds, greased with vegetable oil

2½ gelatine leaves

100ml whole/coconut milk

65g caster sugar

450g Rachel’s coconut yogurt

8 wedges fresh pineapple

3 limes: zest of all, juice of 2

A splash of dark rum, optional

What to do…

Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.

In a pan, bring the milk and 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar to simmer. Set aside to cool a little. Squeeze the water from the gelatine and dissolve the leaves in the milk and sugar. Cool slightly, stir in the yogurt and pour into your prepared moulds. Pop into the fridge and chill for at least 3 hours and up to 2 days. (Love the preparing ahead element of this).

Mix the pineapple with the remaining sugar and zest and juice of 2 limes. Cover and pop into the fridge until you are ready to serve, turning occasionally. (My plans changed when I made this and I left them in the fridge overnight to no ill effect).

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Add the pineapple, wiping off the excess marinade. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, until caramelised, enjoying the delicious, heady aromas as you go. Add the reserved marinade and rum, if using, and bubble for a couple of minutes, turning the pineapple soft and sticky.

Invert the panna cottas onto serving plates, top with the remaining lime zest (I forgot this part!) and serve with the pineapple and juices – de-lic-ious!!!!

Tip…

To encourage the panna cotta out of it’s mould, just prod the tip of a knife down one side – it releases the ‘air lock’ and out plops the panna cotta.

Inspired by…

Waitrose.com

How easy…

Spectacularly and most of it can be done ahead so it’s ideal for dinner and supper get-togethers.

 

 

My Absolute Favourite Recipe for Carrot Cake

John’s favourite cake is carrot cake and I think it might be mine too – so moist and heavenly; a gentle, warming spice flavouring the sponge, contrasting beautifully with the sweet frosting – sheer delight!

One of our friends made the Hummingbird Bakery version of this delicious treat for John’s 60th birthday a wee while ago (!) so this year, I finally replicated it for him and it was simply gorgeous – very difficult not to dive into and demolish the whole lot in one sitting! Just two weeks later, I was asked by a lovely friend to make it again to celebrate her son’s 40th, which is the picture that you have here.

The recipe below is for the original cake (rather than the 40th birthday version); however, it’s been Cindy-tweaked. The original splits the mixture between three 20-cm cake tins but I only have two. I however, made more frosting to accommodate the 4 tiers made from the two sponges and that’s what you’ve got here. Try it once and you’ll be a devotee!

 What you need…

2 x deep, 20cm cake tins, liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

300g soft light brown sugar

3 large, happy eggs

300ml rapeseed oil

300g plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

300g carrots, grated

100g shelled walnuts, chopped

A handful of walnut halves, to decorate

for the cream cheese frosting

750g icing sugar, sifted

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature

310g cream cheese, cold

Carrot Cake w

What to do…

First, to the cake mixture! Preheat the oven to 170˚c / 325˚f / gas 3.

If you have a stand mixer, use it to combine the sugar, eggs and oil together (an electric handheld mix would also do the job).

Gradually add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract.

Take the bowl from the mixer and stir in the chopped walnuts and grated carrots by hand until they are evenly distributed.

Pour the mixture into your cake tins and pop into the oven, for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack.

Next to the frosting! Use an electric handheld whisk to beat the icing sugar and butter together. Plop in all of the cream cheese and beat until completely smooth (a couple of minutes) taking care not to over beat as it can become runny quite quickly.

 And finally to the cake assembly. When the cakes are cold, carefully halve each cake sponge horizontally. Then, place one tier on a cake stand and spread a thin layer of frosting over it. Place the second tier on top and repeat and then again with the third tier. Top with the last tier. Spread the remaining frosting generously over the top and sides. Finish decorating with walnuts.

40 carrot cake 2 w_1

Tip…

I like to make the cake sponges in advance, wrap them in foil and freeze them. Then, on the day of the cake-fest, it’s just a case of frosting and decorating.

Inspired by….

Jo Wilkes, who made this for John’s 60th birthday and who in turn, retrieved this recipe for me from the Hummingbird Bakery.

 

Carrot Cake slice w

 

Thai Crab Filling

So, it turns out that Mary Berry’s recipe for the filling for Thai crab poppadom canapés makes for a perfect, if rather luxurious sandwich!

What to do…

Type ‘crab’ into the search box in the top right hand corner of my home page and the recipe for Thai crab poppadom canapés will come up. Choose some really lovely fresh bread and follow the instructions for the filling, adding a little greenery to complete! Gorgeous!

Inspired by…

Needing to distract myself from a miserable, blustery day and initially, Mary Berry

How easy…

It’s a sandwich – not hard!

Dolly Birthday Cake

Celebrating her 4th birthday, gorgeous Georgia requested another ‘Dolly Cake’ following my considerable efforts last year when I made her my first ‘Princess Birthday Cake’. Slightly quicker in the making this year and far more relaxing! She loved it and it tasted great – and that’s what counts!

What to do…

For the full recipe, type in ‘Princess Birthday Cake’ into the search box in the top right hand corner of my home page.

Tip…

I would recommend making the sponges in advance of the celebratory day and then freezing them – very relaxing this way.

 

 

 

Gently Spiced Prawn and Bacon Skewers for the Barbie

Absolutely delicious and a great pairing – I would never have thought to put these two together. The gentle spicing adds to the natural flavour of the prawns, rather than detracting from them and I have to say, every time I do these, they go down a storm! Hot favourite for this year’s long and sultry barbecue season!

Makes 30

What you need…

Bamboo skewers

30 raw king prawns

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, ground

4 big, fat cloves of garlic, chopped

15 rashers of streaky bacon, cut in half

Lime slices, to serve (optional – I have forgotten them mostly!)

What to do…

Tip the prawns into a bowl with everything except the bacon and lime slices, mix all together, cover with cling film and pop in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the flavours to develop.

Just before cooking, wrap each prawn in half a piece of streaky bacon and thread onto your bamboo skewers. It’s up to you how many you put on each skewer depending on how many people you are feeding, how many prawns you want them to enjoy and whether they are sharing skewers or individual ones!

Pass prawn skewers over to husband who is manning the barbecue, sit back and sip wine whilst he cooks them to perfection, 4-5 minutes on each side.

Serve with salad, new potatoes, garlic bread and loads of other good barbecued fish and meats for a proper al fresco summer feast – yum!!!!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

I prep a couple of hours in advance. John fires up the barbie. What could be easier?!

Spiced Poached Pears

I know that you normally see recipes for these around Christmas time, but why wait? We’ve had them both with Stilton (again, why wait until December to indulge in this most sublime of cheeses) and also with cinnamon ice-cream (recipe already blogged). In both cases, the combination was eye-rollingly, tastebud-partyingly good!!!!! Give them a try – spectacular – and yes, very easy and can be made ahead – my kinda recipe!

Serves 6

What you need…

300ml ‘robust’ red wine (I used Chianti)

300ml water

110g caster sugar

1.5cm cinnamon stick

3 cloves

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange

6 firm (but not rock-hard) pears

What to do…

Tip all the ingredients except the pears into a large saucepan and place over a moderate heat, occasionally stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Meanwhile, peel the pears, leaving the stalks on and place upright in the pan – they should fit snuggly.

Pop the lid on the pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, spooning the red wine syrup over the pears a couple of times.

Remove from the heat and discard the cinnamon and cloves. Spoon the syrup once more over the pears and then pop into the fridge overnight.

When you’re ready to indulge, remove the pears from the syrup and cut a thin slice off the bottom to ensure they will stand upright on the serving plates. Serve each pear with some spicy syrup drizzled over: del-ic-ious!!!!

Tip…

I thought afterwards that the orange zest was particularly unattractive so I would in future sieve the syrup before serving.

Poached Pears with Stilton w

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Really easy!

Teriyaki Marinade (for Barbecued Salmon)

We eat a lot of salmon, so I’m always looking for recipes that enhance its natural flavours and in this one I’ve certainly found it! Delightfully simple and utterly delicious, this sweet soy sauce marinade transports salmon into a barbecued treat.

Serves 4

What you need…

4 chunky salmon steaks (skin on)

75ml dark soy sauce

50g caster sugar

25ml mirin

½ teaspoon salt

What to do…

In a small saucepan, heat all of the ingredients except the salmon gently and until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool. Pop your salmon steaks into a shallow dish and pour over the marinade. Pop into the fridge for 2 hours.

Hand over the marinating fish to he who is barbecuing with instructions to cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, whilst continually brushing with the delicious marinade.

Pour yourself a glass of wine and marvel at the team effort!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Spectacularly so!

 

No-Churn 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!

Tip…

The ice cream needs to come out of the freezer about 15 minutes before you want to indulge – it takes that long to be soft enough to serve

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Dead easy and make ahead – always gets a tick in the box from me!

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!

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