Monthly Archives: March 2017

Lemon Posset with James’ Gran’s Shortbreads

Fresh, intense, zesty, sweet and light as air – that’s the posset and then you bite into the light but crisp, sweet, buttery shortbread – what a combo! And with the added joy that this little duo is made in minutes and is stupendously easy. The only downfall is that you make waaaaay too many shortbreads and…I don’t believe they keep very long…can’t actually verify that!!!!

Makes 6 possets and about 30 shortbreads!

What you need…

600ml double cream

150g caster sugar

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons

for the shortbread

2 x baking sheets, liberally buttered or lined with Bake O Glide

175g plain flour

90g icing sugar

60g ground almonds

25g cornflour

250g unsalted butter, chunked

What to do…

To the possets first: bring the cream and sugar to the boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat, tip in the lemon zest and juice and whisk thoroughly. Pour into serving bowls or teacups. Pop into the fridge for a couple of hours to set.

Meanwhile, make the shortbread: preheat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4. Into your food processor, tip the flour, icing sugar, ground almonds, cornflour and butter chunks. Whizz to create firstly a breadcrumb-like mixture and then a soft dough.

Spoon walnut-sized or plum-sized blobs (depending on how big you want the shortbread) onto your baking sheets, leaving space in between for spreading and pop into the oven to cook for 10 – 12 minutes or until they are lightly golden.

Remove the shortbread from the oven and allow to firm up on the baking trays for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling racks to cool down completely. Make a cup of tea and undergo stringent quality control testing of the shortbread whilst it is cooling!

When you’re ready to serve, simply present your possets with a couple of shortbreads each to their lucky recipients. Enjoy the crunch and buttery gorgeousness of the shortbread with the luscious, sharp freshness of the possets – nothing short of delightful.

Tip…

If you want thicker shortbreads, use a buttered fairy cake tin or bun tin to dollop the uncooked mixture in – it can’t spread so much so you end up with fat, little shortbreads! I made both types and loved them both equally!

Inspired by…

James Martin (and his Gran for the shortbreads)

How easy…

Super easy, super fast, super impressive!

Lemon and Tarragon-Crusted Sea Bass

 So simple and so very, very yummy! A lovely crispy ‘panko’ coating contrasts beautifully with the fresh, tangy lemon tarragon sauce but doesn’t detract from the natural flavours of this delicious fish. A great dish for a supper with family and friends! Simply delightful!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x baking sheet, lined with parchment paper/ Bake O Glide

4 sea bass fillets, skin on

40g butter

60g panko breadcrumbs

Zest of 1 lemon, grated finely

½ tablespoon tarragon, chopped

40g Parmesan, grated

Sea salt and black pepper

Lemon wedges, to serve

for the lemon tarragon sauce

200g full-fat crème fraîche

½ tablespoon tarragon, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Pinch of caster sugar

What to do…

Season the sea bass fillets well on both sides with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a small pan, then remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs, lemon zest and tarragon so that all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed together. Set aside.

On your baking sheet, sprinkle over half the breadcrumb mixture in 4 rows, roughly the same size as the 4 fish fillets. Lay each fillet, skin side down, on top of a row of breadcrumbs and press down firmly. Top each fillet with the remaining breadcrumbs, sprinkle with Parmesan and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes (or for up to 8 hours).

When you’re ready to serve, preheat the oven to 200°c / 400° / gas 6.

To make the sauce, chuck all the ingredients together in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix together.

Cook the fish in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve each crispy-coated fillet on a warm plate with a dollop of the lovely sauce, a wedge of lemon and perhaps a little greenery and potatoes – absolutely delicious and delightfully easy!

What’s Panko all about…?

Panko breadcrumbs were a total revelation to me. I couldn’t believe that Mary was using pre-prepared breadcrumbs but these little lovelies can be set quite apart from your everyday breadcrumb!!! In short, panko is a type of flaky breadcrumb; it’s commonly used in Asian, particularly Japanese, cuisine, although it has become more popular in Western cooking. What sets it apart from standard breadcrumbs is its texture which is light, airy and delicate; all of which ensure that it crisps as it cooks. The texture of panko makes it especially wonderful for fried food because it absorbs less oil than breadcrumbs, keeping food more crisp and crunchy. I will be using it for all sorts from here on in – toppings, coatings and crusts are going to be panko all the way!

Tips…

The fish can be prepared up to 8 hours in advance and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to cook. Likewise, the sauce can be made a couple of days in advance.

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy….

I’m loving these recipes from Mary’s Everyday cook book – they’re all really easy and fit nicely into a busy schedule – this one is no exception – enjoy!

Decadently Delicious Beef Strogonoff

An absolute culinary classic, Beef Strogonoff hails from 1890’s Russia (Count Strogonoff no less) and was extremely popular in the 1970s as a fabulous dinner party dish for which no expense had been spared. Tender beef fillet, earthy mushrooms and a gorgeous creamy sauce – it takes just minutes to cook and is an absolute treat (albeit not cheap!) From Russia with love….xx

 Serves 4

 What you need…

 450g beef fillet, cut from the tail end and then sliced into strips

Sea salt and black pepper

1 teaspoon hot paprika

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

Splash of rapeseed oil

30g butter

2 shallots, chopped finely

200g button mushrooms, sliced thinly

1 teaspoon tomato purée

50ml white wine vinegar

75ml white wine

200ml double cream

A drizzle of soured cream

1 tablespoon flatleaf parsley, finely chopped, to garnish

What to do…

In a bowl, mix together enough salt and pepper to season the beef with the two paprikas. Chuck in the fillet and mix together so that the beef is covered in the seasonings.

Heat a frying pan and add a splash of rapeseed oil. When it’s hot, flash fry the strips of beef until they are rare – about 2 minutes, then remove them from the pan and put in a sieve allowing any juices to drip into a bowl. Set aside.

Add the butter to the pan and when melted, tip in the shallots and cook for 2 minutes over a moderate heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further minute before adding in the tomato purée and cooking for another couple of minutes. Stir well, then add the white wine vinegar and reduce the mixture until all the liquid has evaporated.

Add the white wine and reduce the liquid by half. Pour yourself a glass whilst you wait! Pour in the double cream and bring to the boil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the beef and the cooking juices and warm through but don’t boil – the beef needs no further cooking.

Serve on top of piping hot boiled rice (I prefer basmati mixed with wild rice). Drizzle over a little soured cream, perhaps a dusting of paprika and scattering of parsley. Decadently delicious!!!

What’s it all about…?

Beef Strogonoff is largely recognised as being created in the 1890’s for Count Pavel Strogonoff, a diplomat and gourmet who often entertained his friends with extravagant feasts. A light-hearted competition between some of the great families of St. Petersburg was organised to see which of their chefs could produce the finest dish and it was Strogonoff’s chef, Charles Briere, who was pronounced the winner – there you have it!

Inspired by…

James Winter’s ‘Who put the Beef in Wellington’ book. This recipe though, was a gift to him from chef Lawrence Keogh, who was at that time, head chef at London’s iconic restaurant, ‘The Wolseley’.

How easy…

Real quick, real easy, real tasty!

Italian-Inspired Yogurt Pot Cake

Italian-inspired, this unassuming, delicately flavoured cake is, at first glance, quite plain. But the gentle combination of vanilla and lemon, the moistness of the sponge and the enticing sweetness combine to create something quite lovely and quite frankly, rather addictive! Its perfect partner is strong coffee, preferably espresso, with which it is transformed into a fabulous treat – the combination is simply fabulous! I’m going to take coffee breaks much more seriously now!!! (By the way, it’s called Yogurt Pot Cake because you are supposed to measure out the ingredients just using yogurt pots, but I couldn’t get on with that!)

Makes around 16 slices

What you need…

1 x 22cm savarin or ring tin, greased with rapeseed oil

3 eggs, separated

150g pot plain yogurt

250g caster sugar

150ml rapeseed oil

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Zest of ½ lemon, finely grated

175g plain flour

75g cornflour

Icing sugar, for dusting

What to do…

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

In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites to form firm peaks. Set aside.

Into your food processor, tip the egg yolks and yogurt. Whizz to mix together. Add the sugar and whizz until light and airy.

Whilst the processor is still whizzing, slowly pour in the oil. Then, add the vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whizz again to thoroughly incorporate. Tip in the flour and cornflour and whizz again to mix together.

Tip the mixture into the egg whites and use a balloon whisk to gently fold the mixture in.

Tip the whole lot into your savarin mould and pop in the oven to bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until the sides are coming away from the mould, the cake is a lovely light golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in the mould. Then, invert and turn out onto a cooling rack.

You can eat it cold but if you get the chance, serve it whilst it’s still warm. Choose a pretty serving plate and dust with icing sugar. Arm yourself  with a knife and an espresso. Cut several slices, sit back and indulge in the simple joy that it is warm, gently flavoured moist cake with great coffee. Lovelllley!

Tip…

The idea, clearly, is that you just use the yogurt pot to measure most of the ingredients out but it was very messy so I reverted to my usual methods of weighing stuff out – I liked the simplicity of the concept but it didn’t really work for me. The cake however, did!!!

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

So easy that this cake was knocked up on a Sunday morning whilst I was still in my PJs. Breakfast on this happy day was warm cake (several slices) and espresso – not a bad start, I must say!!!

 

Thai Crab Poppadom Canapés

Quick, easy and absolutely scrumptious, these lovely little canapés – courtesy of Mary Berry – enliven the delicate, sweet flavour of the crabmeat in a light, fresh, slightly oriental dressing, perfectly topping the crunch of poppadoms. They are simply delightful and easily ‘poppable’ little canapés – perfect for our Friday night tradition of G&Ts at 6pm.

Makes 8 – 10

What you need…

100g white crabmeat, flaked finely

½ fresh red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely

1 teaspoon mayonnaise

1 teaspoon sweet chilli dipping sauce

Squeeze of lime juice

Sea salt and black pepper

1 dessertspoon fresh coriander leaves, chopped

8 – 10 mini poppadoms

What to do…

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the poppadoms so that they are thoroughly mixed together. Cover with cling film and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours) to allow the flavours to develop.

When you’re ready to indulge, use a teaspoon to plop some mixture into each mini poppadom, creating 8 – 10 gorgeous little canapés. Serve alongside G&Ts, fizz, or crisp white wine and enjoy the combined crunch of the poppable poppadom with the delicate, fresh and slightly oriental flavours of the filling – yum, yum!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

An absolute doddle!

 

Yuzu Salmon with Buttered Leeks

A Mary Berry dish, this one is from her ‘Everyday’ series. The first thing that I should say is that I couldn’t find Yuzu juice anywhere but that didn’t matter – Google recommended the alternative mix of fresh lime and orange juice – I have no idea whether this combination tastes like the Japanese citrus fruit juice, ‘Yuzu’, but I can tell you that this salmon dish was absolutely delicious – fresh, tangy with a touch of Asian-inspired heat, all working brilliantly as a foil for the richness of the salmon. Also, it’s stupidly easy AND can be prepared in advance! This is DEFINITELY on the regulars list.

Serves 4

What you need…

Knob of butter

4 small leeks, finely sliced

4 x 125g salmon fillets, skinned

3-4 radishes, thinly sliced, to garnish

A few coriander leaves, to garnish

for the dressing

2cm chunk of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Dessertspoon of fresh orange juice

4 tablespoons rapeseed oil

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Into a screw top jar, tip the ginger and garlic with the chilli, lime juice, orange juice and oil. Season with salt and pepper, screw on the lid and shake like mad. Set aside until you’re ready to cook the meal.

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

Heat the butter in a large frying pan and when it has melted, add the leeks and fry over a high heat for 3 minutes. Pop the lid on the pan, lower the heat and sweat the leeks for 10 minutes until soft but not brown. Tip into an ovenproof dish.

Sit the salmon fillets on top of the leeks and season with salt and pepper. (If you’re preparing ahead you could now just cover the whole lot with cling film or foil and pop into the fridge).

Spoon all but two tablespoons of the dressing over the salmon. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through (a little longer if the dish has been sat in the fridge already prepared).

Toss the coriander leaves and radishes in the remaining dressing. Serve a spoonful of leeks onto each plate with a salmon fillet on top and then spoon over the radishes, coriander and dressing.

Enjoy this delicious, tangy and vibrant supper dish and remember to stick it right back on the menu to enjoy again soon!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Ridiculously easy and so much flexibility with time (we enjoyed ‘wine time’ between when the salmon sat on the leeks and when the dressing went on and the whole lot went into the oven.

 

 

 

Clotted Cream Scones

Why do we not make scones? They’re so damned easy and if indulged in the day (if not the hour after) they are baked, are absolutely delicious! I followed James Martin’s recipe this time, which includes clotted cream as part of the mixture, not just on the serving plate and they were gorgeous (although John says I made them too thin, so that’s work in progress, I guess – the following recipe includes instructions for 2cm thick dough which I didn’t follow, so I guess he’s right). Anyway, give them a go – you won’t be disappointed – they make the perfect English afternoon tea treat!

Makes 8 good sized scones

What you need…

1 x baking sheet, lightly buttered

1 x 7cm cookie cutter

1 happy egg

50ml milk

50g clotted cream

225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

2½ teaspoons baking powder

A pinch of salt

40g unsalted butter, chunked

75g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

1 happy egg yolk, lightly beaten for glazing

What to do…

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

In a small bowl, mix together the whole egg, milk and clotted cream. Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl, then add the butter and rub into the flour, creating a fine breadcrumb consistency. Stir in the caster sugar and then the egg, milk, cream mixture, creating a smooth dough.

On a lightly floured work surface, gently roll out the dough until it’s about 2cm thick (not 1cm like I did the first time). Use your cookie cutter to cut out 8 scones and pop them on your baking sheet. Don’t throw away the left over dough – just put that on the baking sheet too – they make for great chef’s treats or just weirdly shaped scones! Brush the scones and the leftover dough blobs with the beaten egg yolk. Sprinkle with caster sugar and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Allow to cool slightly and then serve buttered and slathered in lovely strawberry or raspberry jam and clotted cream. What could be more of an English afternoon tea treat?!

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Tips…

Don’t be tempted to use your food processor to make the dough – making it by hand takes no time and is definitely part of the enjoyment experience. James also reckons that it makes for a better scone!

Make them the day you want to eat them – enjoy them as fresh as possible – barely cool from the oven is best!

Inspired by…

James Martin

How easy…

Very easy – I was surprised how easy!