Monthly Archives: April 2016

Chicken Breasts Duxelle with Whisky and Mustard Cream Sauce

Ooooh, this was such a surprise – the photograph does not do this dish justice – it is absolutely scrumptious. The duxelles provide a rich depth of flavour that lifts the humble chicken breast to a thing of utter deliciousness and the whisky and mustard cream sauce – simply sublime – we could have easily licked the dish clean were it not for our impeccable manners – try this one – we will be having it again and again. Easy, cheap and so, so special. Yummy doesn’t cover it!

Serves 4

What you need…

Cocktail sticks!

Small baking dish, lightly buttered

4 large boneless chicken breasts, skinned

1 tablespoon rapeseed oil

Sea salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons whisky

3 tablespoons white wine

3 tablespoons water

Chicken stock made from a stockpot and water

for the duxelle

45g butter

150g brown mushrooms, cleaned and finely chopped

6 spring onions, chopped

1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped

3 teaspoons fresh rosemary needles, finely chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

for the sauce

30g butter

2 tablespoons plain flour

1 egg yolk

150ml soured cream

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoon whisky

1 teaspoon sugar

What to do…

Let’s start with the duxelle, which you can do in advance if you like. Heat the butter over a moderate heat and fry the mushrooms, spring onions, carrot rosemary, salt and pepper for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Take your chicken breasts and either cut pockets into each breast by slicing horizontally or flatten gently with a mallet. Either stuff the pockets with the duxelle or spoon down the length of one side of the breast and fold over. Either way, pinch to close and ‘pin’ together using cocktail sticks – they won’t look pretty but don’t worry, you’re removing the cocktail sticks later.

Heat the oil over a moderate heat and seal the breasts as best you can (given the cocktail sticks) all over and without browning. Season with salt and pepper. pour over the whisky and flame it (love a bit of drama!). Pour over water and wine. Cover and gently poach over a low heat for 20 minutes.

Remove the breasts from the pan and pop them into your baking dish. Remove the cocktail sticks and discard. Pour the remaining pan juices into a jug and add enough chicken stock to make 250ml.

To make the sauce, melt the butter over a moderate heat and tip in the flour. Using a balloon whisk, quickly beat together and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add in the hot stock, whisking all the while, until thickened. In a jug, lightly beat the egg yolk and then pour over the soured cream, mustard, whisky and sugar. Mix together. Off the heat, gradually add the cream mixture to the hot sauce, whisking again. Return to the heat and whisk until thickened. Don’t let it boil. Pour the sauce over the chicken and pop into the oven for 25 minutes to warm through. Clear up so that when you sit down to enjoy this deliciousness you are not surrounded by the debris of pots and pans! Pour wine, sit down and enjoy!

Chicken Breasts Duxelle close up w

Serving suggestion…

Rice works well with maybe some greenery (tenderstem brocolli, sugar snap peas perhaps) on the side.

Tip…

I chopped my mushrooms, carrots and rosemary in a mini food chopper – much quicker than doing it manually, even though each ingredient was done separately.

Inspired by…

Lynn Bedford Hall, New Creative Cuisine

 

 

Sausage, Root Vegetable and Apple Roast

Conscious that the weather is supposed to be on the turn, with temperatures increasing and thoughts of barbecues on the horizon, I decided to use up the remaining vegetables – usually reserved for the traditional Sunday roast – that were still lurking in the bottom of the fridge. We were also fortunate enough to have lurking sausages (a frequent event as, for some inexplicable reason, we insist on buying packets of 18) so this recipe came to mind. A fantastic, really tasty and cheap family supper, it’s also really flexible – you can pretty much chuck in whatever root veg you have lying around – enjoy!

Serves 4

What you need…

You can chuck in whatever quantities you want really but this time I used the following:

1 x roomy ovenproof dish, lightly buttered

3 large carrots, peeled, trimmed and halved lengthways

2 parsnips, peeled, trimmed and quartered

2 turnips, peeled, trimmed and quartered

2 fat slices of swede, peeled and halved

2 red potatoes, quartered

Splash of olive oil

2 Pink Lady apples, cored and cut into six wedges

8 sausages

1 dessertspoon wholegrain mustard

1 dessertspoon runny honey

A handful sage, roughly chopped

What to do…

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

Chuck the root vegetables into your ovenproof dish, splash over the olive oil, give them a quick stir and pop them in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and tip in the honey and wholegrain mustard, add the apples and mix all together so that the honey and mustard are evenly distributed. Wodge in the sausages and pop back in the oven for a further 25 minutes or until the sausages are golden brown. You may want to take the dish out half way through and stir everything around to make sure the sausages, in particular, are evenly coloured all around.

That’s it! Serve, enjoy this really tasty supper and feel smug over how very easy it is!

Inspired by…

Don’t know – one of those ripped from a magazine years ago!

How easy…

Ridiculously!

 

Key Lime Pie with Lime Jelly

A fabulous dessert that is completely different from anything else I have made. There have been lots of zingy lemon-infused dishes but limes take zing to a whole new level. In this pud, the sweet, ginger-infused pastry is light and contrasts deliciously with the sharp, tart but light lime filling and the tangy lime jelly – it’s beautifully refreshing. Personally, I preferred mine straight up but John opted for a little double cream to gently soften the lovely sharpness of this wonderful, summery dessert. Put it on your list for when the sun eventually comes out!

Serves 8

What you need…

1 x 23cm spring form fluted tart tin, lightly buttered and lined on the bottom with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

for the pastry

250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

50g icing sugar

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon ground ginger

135g butter, cold and cubed

1 egg, beaten

2-3 tablespoons ice-cold water

for the filling

4 egg yolks

1 x 397g tin condensed milk

Juice of 4 limes

Grated zest of 2 limes

for the jelly

3 sheets gelatine

Juice of 5 limes

60ml water

Grated zest of 1 lime

40g caster sugar

1 drop green food colouring

What to do…

Tip the flour, icing sugar, salt and butter into your food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the ginger and pulse again until evenly incorporated. Add the beaten egg and 2 tablespoons cold water and pulse again until the pastry comes together. Add a tiny bit more water if needed. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and quickly knead into a ball – handle the pastry as little as possible. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll the pastry out to about 3mm thick and line the tart tin with it, making sure that the pastry stands just a little proud of the rim. Trim the edges, prick the base and pop back in the fridge for 30 minutes (to prevent shrinkage during cooking).

Preheat oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6 and put in a baking sheet to heat up.

Remove the pastry case from the fridge, line with parchment paper and fill up with baking beans. Pop onto the hot baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and baking beans and cook for a further 5 minutes to dry out the pastry. Remove and set aside.

Reduce the oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Using a handheld electric whisk, beat the egg yolks in a large bowl for 3 minutes. Pour in the condensed milk and whisk for a further 2 minutes. Add the lime juice and zest and whisk to incorporate evenly. Tip into the pastry case, smoothing over the top for an even spread. Pop back onto the hot baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until just set. Remove and allow to cool completely. Pop in the fridge to chill.

And then to the super tangy lime jelly! Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, put the lime juice, water and caster sugar into a small saucepan and gently heat to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and add to the pan, stirring until dissolved. Pour into a jug and stir in the lime zest and food colouring. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes.

Pour jelly over the top of your key lime pie – there will be a bit more than you need so stop pouring before it overflows the pastry! Pop back into the fridge for at least 60 minutes to set.

When you’re ready to indulge, ease your lovely key lime pie out of its tin and using a sharp knife, cut into slices. Enjoy this lovely tangy, fresh dessert that with a little double cream if liked. Just yummy and VERY moreish!

Inspired by…

Camilla Stephens, Higgidy

How easy…

This is not a difficult dessert at all and very rewarding. However, you do have to have other things to do to fill in the time whilst this dessert makes a few trips to the fridge – wasn’t a problem for me – I just found other little jobs to do and was then also cooking the lunch, so it all worked perfectly.

Cider-Baked Luxury Fish Pie

 

I’ve never really been a fan of fish pie but this recipe is just rich enough to feel indulgent without that sluggish, overly full and slightly sick feeling that often comes with overly rich food! Haddock, scallops and prawns are the basis of this dish so, providing you’ve got good quality, the great natural flavours are already there, just waiting to party with your taste buds! It has double cream in but that’s countered by the cider to produce a tasty sauce that just begs an extra spoon at the table just to make absolutely sure there isn’t any left; and for the mashed potato topping, I did my own thing – anchovies don’t scream ‘salty fish’ as you might expect but just add a depth of flavour. At our table, it was agreed, we’re definitely having this dish again – absolutely lovely!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x 1 litre ovenproof dish, lightly buttered

100ml milk

400g haddock fillets

100ml milk

150g scallops

150g large raw prawns, shelled

25g butter

25g plain flour

100ml dry still cider

75ml double cream

1 dessertspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

for the topping

500g King Edwards potatoes, peeled and roughly chunked

3 anchovy fillets (from a jar in oil), roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

100g salted butter

Splash of milk

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 190°c / 375°f / gas 5.

Pop the potatoes in a pan of salted water, bring to the boil and simmer until soft (15 minutes-ish).

In a little saucepan, tip in the anchovies, garlic and butter. Put it on a really low heat, just to melt the butter and let the flavours develop. Ignore it until you need it later.

Meanwhile, pop the haddock into a large pan with the 100ml milk, bring to the boil and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove the fish to a plate with a slotted spoon, retaining the flavoured milk for later. When it’s cool enough to handle, flake the fish into large chunks into your ovenproof dish. Tip into the dish the scallops and prawns and spread about evenly.

Melt the 25g butter in a small sauce pan, tip in the flour, cooking for 1 minute whilst stirring like crazy. Remove from the heat and, using a balloon whisk, gradually mix in the cider and then the retained milk. Return to a moderate heat for up to 10 minutes, whisking until smooth. Whisk in the cream and mustard; add the parsley and season to taste. Pour over the fish and set aside whilst you complete your mash.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Add a splash of milk and the melted butter with anchovy and garlic. Depending on your preference, either mash traditionally or, if you would like a smoother, creamier version, use an electric hand whisk to create a lovely silky mashed potato (no points for guessing which approach I prefer!) Taste and adjust the seasoning. If you’re feeling really naughty, you could add a tad more butter or double cream.

Dollop the mash all over the fish mixture and then use a fork to give it a nice ‘roughed up’ texture.

Pop in the oven and bake for 40 minutes until lovely and golden brown. Serve and enjoy – it is utterly delicious!

Serving suggestion…

We really enjoyed this dish with garlic, rosemary and anchovy-flavoured greens together with Hasselback potatoes, both of which I will type up and blog this week – they are great sides that would go with a wide variety of dishes, were really tasty, attractive and required next to no effort (always a bonus!)

Tip…

I use Cooks’ Ingredients frozen and chopped garlic, rather than doing all that peeling and chopping business.

Inspired by…

Woman and Home magazine

How easy…

Dead easy, really quick and very little clearing up – perfect for a weekday supper, although the ingredients aren’t the cheapest.

Orange Drizzle Cake

 

I heard on the Chris Evans’ radio 2 breakfast show on Tuesday that Great British Bake Off winner 2015, the lovely Nadiya Hussain, had been appointed to create a birthday cake for our wonderful 90-year- old Queen and that she’d decided to make an orange drizzle cake. Well, we all know that hers will be a thing of wonder but I thought that in my own small way, I would celebrate the day with a more basic version of the same. Using my Mary Berry lemon drizzle cake recipe as a basis, I simply swapped out the fresh lemon bits for orange – couldn’t be simpler! Whilst the lemon version is really zesty, zingy and fresh, the orange alternative is mellower and more subtle with a nod towards summer. They’re both lovely, dead easy, take no time and both very moreish. Happy Birthday ma’am!!!!

Serves 8

What you need…

for the cake

900g loaf tin, greased and parchment paper-lined

3 large eggs

175g self-raising flour

175g caster sugar

175g butter, softened

1½ teaspoons baking powder

Zest of 1 large orange, finely grated

for crunchy orange icing

100g granulated sugar

Juice of 1 large orange

What to do…

Preheat oven to 180c / 350 F / gas 4.

Chuck all the cake ingredients into a food processor and whizz until thoroughly mixed.

Tip into the loaf tin and bake in oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown and shrinking away from the sides of the tin slightly.

Pop tin on a cooling rack and leave from 10/15 minutes until the cake is warm rather than hot.

Prick over the top of the cake with a skewer.

Mix together the sugar and orange juice and pour over the top of the cake whilst it is still in its tin. It will look like there’s loads too much topping – keep the faith and pour the lot in. Walk away.

Come back 10/15 minutes later and the orange drizzle topping will have largely disappeared – it’s gone into the cake (with the help of your skewering) to ensure that it is wonderfully moist.

When it’s cool rather than cold, loosen the sides away from the tin and lift out, using the paper. Dispense with the parchment paper and serve your delicious orange drizzle cake – as you taste it, I swear the gentle warmth of an early summer sun seeps into your bones – it is truly delightful…and for next to no effort.

Inspired by…

Nadiya Hussain for bringing the idea to my attention and Mary Berry for providing me with the original recipe used.

How easy…

Spectacularly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beef Fillet with a Fricassee of Mushrooms and Asparagus Purée

A rather lovely treat. In the name of this blog, I had to insist that we tried this recipe, mainly because the mushrooms sounded interesting! So, we got to have beef fillet – yipppeee! The fillet came from a great butcher and I did very little to it other than emphasise its natural flavour with seasoning. The mushrooms were quite a revelation – I’ve never even thought to do them like this before but they were absolutely lovely – we’ll be having them again. And then there’s the asparagus…it’s in season so we’ve been having lots of it so I wanted to do something different – hence the green blobs! Despite being potentially pretentious (if they’d been a bit tidier) the process really intensified the flavour and I would definitely give this ago again and not just with asparagus! If you fancy treating yourself to a nice bit of fillet, then I would wholeheartedly recommend this recipe.

Serves 4

What you need…

4 gorgeous beef fillets, about 3cm thick

Olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

for the mushrooms

100ml boiling water from the kettle

½ beef stockpot (I use Knorr)

100g unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

200g assorted mushrooms

2 tablespoons Madeira

1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

Sea salt and black pepper

1 tomato, peeled, deseeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon tarragon, chopped

for the asparagus

250g asparagus, trimmed

Knob butter

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Sea salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons double cream

What to do…

A couple of hours before you want to eat, prepare the beef. Fillet doesn’t need tenderising. Instead, put a teaspoon of olive oil onto one side of each steak, spreading it evening over and then, using the heel of your hand, massage the steak – it needs no more than this. Season with salt and pepper, flip and repeat on the other side. Cover your steaks with cling film and set aside until you’re ready to cook them.

Next, the asparagus purée! In a medium-sized deep frying pan, cook the asparagus in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain (retaining a little of the water). Return the asparagus to the dry pan, add the butter, Dijon and seasoning stirring together until the butter is melted and the other ingredients evenly incorporated. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Tip the whole lot into your blender with a tablespoon of the retained cooking water. Whizz until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add a little more water if the mixture is too thick for your liking. Pop the asparagus purée into a plastic bottle (to create the blobs) and keep warm until serving.

To the mushrooms! Use a balloon whisk to mix together the boiling water and beef stockpot to create 100ml beef stock. Set aside.

Melt 20g of the butter in a pan, add the garlic and shallot and cook until transparent. Add the mushrooms and cook gently for 3 minutes. Add the Madeira to the pan, turn up the heat and cook, stirring regularly, until the liquid has reduced by half. Stir in the mustard and then the rest of the butter. Season and then tip in the tomato and tarragon.

Meanwhile, cook your fillets. Place your lovely fillets into a dry frying pan over a moderate heat. Cook for a few minutes on each side until they are cooked to your liking. Allow them to rest a little before serving.

Serve your beef fillet with a goodly portion of the wonderful fricassee of mushrooms and either a few blobs, a smear or dollop of the beautifully intensely flavoured asparagus purée together with a wonderful glass or two of a great red wine (a good claret perhaps?) Just yummy!

Tip…

I use Cooks’ Ingredients frozen chopped garlic and frozen, chopped shallots from Waitrose, preferring a quick shake of the packet rather than all the peeling and chopping.

Inspired by…

Michael Caines on Saturday Kitchen

How easy…

Very easy – I knocked this up in just a few minutes having all afternoon in the kitchen creating the wonderful but time-intense Chocolate, Orange and Cardamom Diva cake, so I was knackered when I started – this was an absolute sinch and the perfect end to the day.

Chocolate, Orange and Cardamom Diva Cake

 

I have been wanting to make this cake for a while but I knew that I would involve committing several hours to the cause. Music on, all equipment assembled and at the ready: I set to. It is an absolute stunner – definitely an OMG wonder of a celebratory cake! A sheer pleasure of many layers, your tastebuds are delighted first by rich chocolate, then by the light, zesty orange butter cream, then by the gentle warmth of cardamom and the intense, distinctive taste of pistachios, returning finally to the rich chocolate. John Whaite may call it ‘Opera Cake’, but to me it’s a glorious diva – requiring a huge amount of attention but worthy of it given the integral gift of enjoyment it exudes! If you have the time and want a real show-stopper of a cake, this is it! Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients or instructions: it’s just like having five mini recipes for one ultimate creation – worth every second!

Makes 18 good-sized slices

What you need…

2 x 20 x 30cm Swiss roll tins, buttered and lined with parchment paper

5 egg whites

25g sugar

4 eggs

100g pistachios, ground (in your food processor)

50g ground almonds

150g icing sugar

45g flour

40g unsalted butter, melted

for the ganache

100ml milk

8 cardamom pods, bruised

200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

20g unsalted butter, room temperature

for the syrup

60g caster sugar

60ml water

4 cardamom pods, bruised

Juice from 1 large orange

for the orange buttercream

75ml unsalted butter, room temperature

Zest from 1 large orange

150g icing sugar

1 teaspoon fresh orange juice

to decorate with chocolate mirror glaze

1 gelatine leaf

120g golden caster sugar

60ml water

1 tablespoon golden syrup

75g cocoa powder, sifted

60ml double cream

Gold leaf (optional but opulent!)

What to do…

Sponges

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

Into your processor tip in the eggs, pistachios, almonds, icing sugar and flour. Whizz until well combined.

Using a handheld electric whisk, beat together the egg whites in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks are formed. Tip in one third of the sugar and whisk in thoroughly before repeating with a second third and then the remaining sugar.

Onto the egg whites, gently pour the pistachio mixture and the melted butter. Using a balloon whisk, gently fold together so that all three elements are evenly incorporated.

Pour into your two Swiss roll tins, smooth surfaces and pop in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until light golden brown and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool completely in their tins whilst you make the ganache, butter cream, syrup and glaze.

Ganache

For the indulgent ganache, pour the milk into a saucepan with the 8 cardamom pods, set over a high heat until the milk begins to steam and then remove from the heat, allowing the cardamoms to infuse for 10 minutes.

Pop your chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl.

Remove the cardamom pods and then heat the milk until bubbles start to form around the sides. Pour the milk over the chocolate and after 30 seconds, use your balloon whisk to beat like crazy until the chocolate is melted. Add in the butter and whisk until all is incorporated and is lovely and glossy. Set aside.

Syrup

Place the sugar, water and 4 cardamom pods into a saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Boil for 3 minutes. Allow to cool a little. Add the orange juice and set aside.

Buttercream

In your food processor, tip in the butter and orange zest. Whizz until evenly mixed. Add the icing sugar and orange juice. Whizz until pale and light. Set aside.

Glaze

Soak the gelatine leaf in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the sugar, water and golden syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer vigorously for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and, using a balloon whisk, beat in first the cocoa powder and then the cream. Return to a moderate heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and add to the chocolate mixture. Stir until dissolved. Sieve into a jug and set aside.

Assembly Job

Here we go – time to assemble – this bit is really relaxing and I loved seeing it all coming together.

Carefully remove your sponges from the parchment paper and from each one, cut a 20cm square, also giving you a 20cm x 10cm rectangle.

Take a 20 x 20cm sponge and put it on the board or plate that you intend to serve this glorious diva of a cake on. Using a pastry brush, apply the syrup to the sponge, using about one third. Then, spread two-thirds of the ganache evenly over the top. Pop the sponge in the freezer for 5 minutes. Clear up a bit.

Place the two rectangular sponges on the ganache to create the second 20 x 20cm square sponge layer. Apply half the remaining syrup all over the top and then spread over all of the buttercream. Pop in the freezer for 5 minutes. Clear up a bit more.

Take the remaining square sponge and evenly apply the remaining syrup all over. Flip it (so that the syrup is on the underside) and gently place it on top of the buttercream. Spread the remaining ganache over the top and then pop the cake back into the freezer for 20 minutes. Clear up a lot!

The glaze needs to be runny so pop it in the microwave for 30-second bursts until it is glossy and runny again. Enjoy gently pouring it evenly over the chilled cake, making sure the whole surface is covered. Put back in the freezer for 30 minutes until set.

To serve, first a little tidy up of the diva, so it looks its absolute best! Fill a tall jug with boiling water from the kettle and arm yourself with your sharpest knife. Dip the knife in the water, dry and then trim one side of the cake by just 5mm to create a sharp edge with beautifully defined layers. Repeat the dip, dry and trim process for the remaining three sides and then again to divide the cake up into either smaller cakes (I made 3 smaller rectangular cakes, each serving 6 slices) or slice up the whole lot. Decorate with gold leaf if you’re feeling opulent or simply indulge in the loveliness that is this fabulous cake!

It absolutely WAS worth the effort! Enjoy!!!!

Tips…

Freeze the left over egg yolks from the biscuit sponge – you only need one more to make a fabulous and large Tiramisu (recipe to follow).

Rinse and dry food processor bowl, balloon whisks and saucepans as you complete the first stages to reduce the final washing up pile!

Inspired by…

2012 Great British Bake Off winner, John Whaite

How easy…

It’s not a difficult recipe but it does take hours and my kitchen looked like a bombsite during the process. Called into play were the food processor, mini chopper, electric hand whisk, juicer and mixing bowls as well as three balloon whisks, jugs and countless spatulas, knives and spoons. I am a messy cook anyway but wow! this was a whole new level of kitchen mayhem, even for me. Saying that, during the cake assembly, when it is popped into the freezer for a few sessions, the dishes, surfaces and equipment gradually got washed, wiped down and returned to normal so when this glorious cake was finished, it was centre stage in a spotless kitchen with only the whirring of the dishwasher as a gentle reminder of the havoc that had reigned!

Pistachio, Orange and Rosemary Biscotti

I was introduced to these gorgeous biscotti last September at a Macmillan coffee morning hosted by my lovely friend, Sue. Lots of scrumptious homemade cakes graced her table but it was the biscotti that I enjoyed the most. That very afternoon, I was on the email to request the recipe. It turns out that Sue’s son, Josh, had made the biscotti and on contacting him, I discovered that the recipe originated from 2012 Great British Bake Off winner, John Whaite. A perfect accompaniment to a good, strong cup of coffee, the combination of pistachio, orange and rosemary is simply exquisite and the recipe is so very, very easy. So, ‘thank you’ to Sue and Josh for the recipe and for prompting me to buy the John Whaite Bakes cookery book. Try these biscotti – best shared with friends.

Makes 20ish

What you need…

125g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

75g caster sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

Zest of 1 large orange

50g dried apricots, roughly chopped

80g pistachios, roughly chopped

1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

What to do…

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

Into your food processor tip the flour, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, apricots, pistachios and rosemary. Whizz until all the ingredients are evenly mixed.

Beat the egg and milk together and then add to the other ingredients. Whizz again until a dough is formed. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and give the dough a quick knead to bring it all together and roll it out to form a long, fat sausage, maybe 23cms in length.

Place on a baking sheet lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper and then pop in the oven to bake for 25 minutes or until light golden brown.

Remove from the oven and, using a really sharp serrated knife, cut into 1cm-thick slices. Pop back in the oven and reduce the temperature to 130°c / 250°f / gas ½ and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Then make yourself a lovely strong coffee and sit back and enjoy these delicious, crunchy biscotti – just yummy and very moreish!

Biscotti close up w

Inspired by…

Josh initially and then John Whaite

How easy…

Dead easy. Got up, showered. Made biscotti. Had coffee. Lovely morning!

 

 

Baked Lemon Pudding

Returning from the gorgeous Amalfi Coast where lemon trees seemed to adorn every hillside, heavily laden with ripened fruit, I was inspired to do something with lemons. It is however, not yet warm enough to do a lemon sorbet or something naughty with the mildly addictive and delicious Italian lemon liqueur, Limoncello (both of these things are coming though, I promise) but I happened on this pudding recipe which manages to combine being oh so very, very light, fluffy and zesty with being gently comforting. Delving my spoon into the ‘still warm from the oven’ loveliness that is baked lemon pudding, the grey English skies didn’t seem so dreary after all. It’s also beyond easy and took next to no effort – perfect for the first day blogging after a week’s pampering. Give it a go!

Serves 4 – 6

What you need…

1 x 1 litre ovenproof dish, lightly buttered

1 x deep roasting tin

Kettle of boiling water

90g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

130g caster sugar

3 large eggs, separated

Zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons

30g plain flour

200ml milk

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 190° c / 375°f / gas 5.

Using an electric hand held whisk, beat the egg whites in a bowl until stiff and glossy. Set aside.

Chuck into your food processor the butter and sugar and whizz until softened and pale in colour. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Keep whizzing and add the lemon zest and then the flour. Still whizzing, slowly tip in the lemon juice and then the milk – it will be a really sloshy mixture – don’t worry.

Tip the sloshy mixture into the egg whites and, using a balloon whisk, very gently fold the two together.

Carefully pour the mixture into your ovenproof dish and put the dish in the roasting tin. Pour boiling water into the roasting tin until it’s about 2cm deep. Pop the whole lot into the oven and bake for 35 – 45 minutes or until it’s golden brown (I left mine in for 40 minutes so whilst the inside tasted sublime, the top was a bit too dark – ovens vary!)

Cool slightly before serving this deliciously easy, light and tangy lemon pud. Enjoy!

Inspired by…

delicious magazine

How easy…

Very, very easy and a complete joy!

Higgidy Party Pie

 

Stuffed with duck, pork, apricots and garden herbs, this is so much more than just a hot water-crust pork pie! Created for celebrations (the original recipe has three pies, stacked to create a wedding pie) this is so gorgeous, it’s worth having a party for in its own right! Luscious, unbelievably tasty on the inside with fabulous crisp pastry on the outside, this pie has totally converted a woman who simply didn’t eat pies, to one whose flicking through the Higgidy cookbook looking for the next one to do! It’s gorgeous; if you’re feeding a crowd, make this the centrepiece!

Serves 12 – 16

What you need…

1 x 20cm spring form cake tin, 10cm deep

300ml water

250g lard

1 teaspoon salt

750g plain flour, plus a little for dusting

1 egg, plus a further 1 for glazing

for the filling

500g pork shoulder, cut into 1cm cubes

400g sausage meat

150g streaky bacon rashers, cut into 5mm strips

1 small bunch thyme, leaves stripped

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons redcurrant jelly

1 egg, beaten

50g fresh breadcrumbs

2 duck breasts, skin removed and meat cut into 5mm strips

200g semi-dried apricots

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

To make the pastry, pour the water into a large saucepan, add the lard and salt and slowly bring to a gentle simmer over a moderate heat. Don’t allow it to boil.

Once the lard has melted, remove from the heat and tip in all the flour. Using an electric handheld whisk, beat the mixture to form a glossy paste. Add the egg and whisk until evenly incorporated. Tip out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a couple of minutes until smooth.

Cut away one third of the dough and lightly roll it into a circle, slightly larger than the cake tin – this will be your lid – cover with cling film and pop into the fridge whilst you do the rest of the pie.

Shape the remaining dough into a rough circle and place in the middle of your tin. Gently work it over the base and up the sides of the tin with your fingers until just peeping over the top. Pop it in the fridge for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 190˚c / 375˚f / gas 5.

Put the pork, sausage meat, bacon, thyme, nutmeg, redcurrant jelly, beaten egg and 1 teaspoon salt into a food processor and whizz until evenly combined.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs into the bottom of pastry case and then put half of the pork mixture on top. Next, add a layer of duck. Season and then add a layer of apricots. Finally, top with the remaining pork mixture.

Brush the top edges of the pie case with beaten egg and place the pastry lid on top. Crimp the edges to seal. Make a 1cm hole in the centre of the pie to allow the steam to escape and decorate your pie, if you fancy.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 160˚c / 310°f/ gas 3 and bake for a further 1½ hours or until the pastry has turned a deep golden brown. Take the pie out and allow it to cool for 15 minutes before removing it from the tin.

It’s so impressive to serve and that first slice draws ‘oooooohs and aaaaahs’ of delight. Then they taste it – yum!

Tip…

This fabulous celebration of a pie can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days so it can be made in advance of any entertaining.

Inspired by…

Camilla Stephens, Higgidy

How easy…

I was daunted when I first looked at recipe but in fact, this kind of pastry is really easy to make and the filling is just a case of a bit of prep and then assembly. And it’s soooooo worth it!!!!