Monthly Archives: January 2016

Brandy Snaps

I remember growing up in the 1970s and many a weekend punctuated by my parents’ dinner parties. All that rushing around in the daytime concocting wonderful dishes – Dad normally on the mains and mum on the desserts. Then the tidy up, quick bath and ready to receive guests. Featured in many of those evenings were after dinner drinks: port, brandy and liqueurs, which sadly have largely fallen out of fashion these days and the 1970s-iconic brandy snaps. Shop bought, full of sugary whipped cream, I remember praying that they wouldn’t all be eaten and inevitably they weren’t (I suspect I was allocated one or two from the outset). There is nothing quite like the crunch of the golden, lacy brandy snap quickly followed by the luscious cream; the combination of which made the taste buds wake up and party! They’ve been on my list for a while so here’s the first attempt. I decided against the traditional cigar shape, thinking that might stretch me too far this time around. But having done them once, I’ll give that a go next time.

Makes 12 good sized brandy snap bowls

What you need…

2 x large baking sheets, lined with baking parchment or ‘Bake-O-Glide’ (see Tips)

60g unsalted butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

60g caster sugar

60g plain flour, sifted

½ teaspoon ground ginger, sifted

What to do…

Heat the butter, syrup and sugar in a medium pan until the mixture is fully melted and smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°c / 350° f / gas 4.

Tip the flour and ginger into the butter mixture ands stir to make a thick paste.

Dollop 4 tablespoons of the brandy snap mixture onto each of the lined baking sheets – spacing far apart – they REALLY spread.

Put one tray in the oven and bake in the oven for 7-8 minutes, until deep golden and lacy.

Remove the first tray from the oven and pop the other one in.

Allow the first batch to cool for a few minutes until they are slightly firm but still pliable. Lift them out, one at a time, and mould them over an upturned glass/teacup or ramekin to make a bowl shape. They take a couple of minutes to set so maybe have three or four glasses. Once set, transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

After 7-8 minutes baking, remove the second set from the oven and repeat the cooling, moulding, cooling process with them. I split the brandy snap cooking into two to give myself enough time to mould the first four without worrying that the second four might be hardening too much to shape.

Once cool, store them in an airtight container until you’re ready to serve. Serve these sweet, crunchy bowls with whatever takes your fancy. They work particularly well with strong-flavoured ice cream (e.g. salted caramel, brandy, coffee) or cream topped with seasonal fruits, as shown in the image. Enjoy! Especially good with an espresso coffee on the side!

Tips…

Only in the last month did I discover Bake-O-Glide. Having far too much Champagne and canapés at my friend Susan’s house, I watched as she put tray after tray of food in her Aga, re-using the same Bake-O-Glide. Each time, the canapés really did glide off the lined baking trays with ease. No scrubbing or soaking afterwards. She simply put the Bake-O-Glide in the dishwasher and then it was ready for use again. A total convert, I now use this all the time – it’s not expensive, easily available (ordered off the Internet and it arrived the next day) and can be used 100s of times. If you already know about this stuff, you’ll think I’m bonkers; if not, order some now: total revelation!

To get the golden syrup to slide easily off your tablespoon, first wipe the spoon with olive oil – works brilliantly (saw this on Simply Nigella).

Inspired by…

Good Housekeeping

How easy…

They are not difficult but you do have to give them your full attention.

Two-Ways Salmon Pasta with Basil and Lemon

This is a lovely pasta dish that is simultaneously light but comforting, zesty and fresh but soothing on the stomach. It comes from a book published in the early 1990s by the wonderful Keith Floyd called ‘Floyd on Hangovers’ – a witty little tome that contains advice on detoxing and a selection of recipes for the day after the night before! Having never suffered a hangover (I know, I’m sorry!) I’m not sure why I was bought the book and have since mislaid it, but I’ve been doing this version of one of his recipes for years. It seems a fitting one for New Year’s Day, I thought, although we enjoy it throughout the year.

As delicious as it is, I feel that on this occasion that I should share some of the nutritional benefits (and the reasons why the recipe was in the book, I guess). Both salmon and basil have anti-oxidant qualities, with the former offering omega 3 and vitamins D and B12 and the latter providing vitamins A, K, C, magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium (who knew?!!!!) and from lemon of course, vitamin c. So there’s a real ‘feel-good’ aspect to this one – great kick off for the New Year!

Serves 2

What you need…

A splash olive oil

2 salmon fillets

2 lemons

120g smoked salmon

Sea salt and black pepper for seasoning

2 good handfuls of basil, torn

Pasta of your choice (I prefer gluten-free)

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

Rub olive oil all over a piece of foil and pop the salmon fillets in it. Squeeze half a lemon over the fish, season and then make the foil into a loose parcel. Pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the fish is cooked al dente.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and pop in your pasta according to the packaging instructions – mine normally takes about 12 minutes.

In another large saucepan, squeeze into it the juice of 1½ lemon plus some sea salt and loads of roughly ground black pepper. Roughly tear up the smoked salmon into bite-sized pieces and arrange around the top edges of the saucepan – some will drop into the lemon juice – no worries. Using a fork, remove the skin from the oven-baked salmon and flake the fish into chunks, tipping them into the saucepan as you do. Throw the basil in over the top.

When your pasta is cooked, turn on the heat under the saucepan with all the ingredients in to moderate. Drain the pasta and tip into the salmon, basil, lemon juice mixture. Splash in a little olive oil and then mix everything together, incorporating the salmon from the edges of the saucepan evenly throughout.

Then, simply serve and enjoy your lovely, fresh, enlivening and gentle two-ways salmon pasta with basil and lemon!

Inspired by…

Keith Floyd, Floyd on Hangovers

How easy…

Very, very easy. A good one for a mid- eek supper