Monthly Archives: June 2017

Deliciously Decadent Tiramisu Cake

OK, so two shots at this and whilst Tiramisu as a trifle remains the favourite, this is an absolute gem of a cake to make: moist, decadent and thoroughly naughty! All this and it has the added joys of being easy to make and best made the day before you want to dive into it – it gathers its naughtiness overnight in the fridge. Give it a go: you won’t regret it!

for the sponge

2 x 34 x 24cm Swiss roll tins, liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

1 x 20cm square cake tin (8cm deep), lined with foil and parchment paper (see tip)

6 happy eggs

250g golden caster sugar

250g plain flour

2 tablespoons lukewarm water

for the filling

300ml VERY strong coffee, cooled

120ml kahlua coffee liqueur

500g mascarpone cheese

300ml double cream

3 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted

85g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) finely grated

What to do…

First, make a template around which you will cut out three sponge layers. Simply pop your 20cm square cake tin on a piece of parchment paper and draw around it with a pencil. Cut out the square just inside the pencil markings and then just check that it fits snugly in the tin. Job done. Set aside.

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

For the sponges, tip the eggs and sugar into a large mixing bowl and use a handheld electric whisk to beat for 10 minutes until the mixture is pale and thickened to leave a trail when the whisks are lifted. Tip in half the flour and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in. Tip in the remaining flour and repeat. Finally, tip in the water and again, gently fold in.

Pour the mixture evenly between the 2 Swiss roll tins. Use a spatula to gently and evenly spread the mixture to the corners of the tin. Pop them both in the oven and bake for 10 – 12 minutes until golden, risen and just firm to the touch. Remove and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before gently inverting onto cooling racks. Remove parchment paper and allow to cool completely.

Whilst your sponges are baking, rinse your electric whisks and then you can get on with the filling. In a jug, mix together the kahlua and coffee. Set aside.

Tip the mascarpone cheese into a large mixing bowl and use your rinsed electric handheld whisk to beat it until smooth. Gradually beat in the cream and icing sugar until creamy and spreadable. Taste to check sweetness and add a little more icing sugar, if liked.

Once the sponges are cooked, place your parchment template on the right hand side of one of the sponges and use a sharp knife to cut around it, creating a 20cm square sponge. Repeat on the second sponge. Push the remaining sponge pieces together and lay the parchment square on top and cut a third 20cm square sponge – this one will be in the middle of the cake so no-one will be any the wiser that it is two bits of sponge rather than one!

Now, the joyous bit – assembly!

Place one ‘whole’ sponge in the bottom of your cake tin and then spoon over one third of the coffee/kahlua mixture, making sure that it is evenly distributed (the first one I did had some drier areas and some absolutely drenched!) Then dollop on one third of the mascarpone mixture. To prevent pulling off the top of the sponge whilst spreading, the technique that worked for me was to dollop a spoonful and gently spread a little way; repeat until sponge is covered. Then, sprinkle over one third of the grated chocolate.

Next, place the two ‘halves’ of sponges on top to create the middle layer, pushing them together to minimise the ‘join’. Spoon half of the remaining coffee/kahlua mixture, then half the mascarpone and half the chocolate. Finally, place the third sponge on the top and repeat the coffee, mascarpone, chocolate layering process, finishing all that is remaining of each.

Loosely cover your Tiramisu cake with foil and pop in the fridge overnight to gather its awesomeness!

To serve, use the overhanging foil handles to gently lift the cake out of the tin, placing it on a pretty serving plate; then gently remove the foil and parchment paper, using a fish slice to carefully tilt the cake whilst gently pulling the paper away.

That’s it! Serve with glee! It’s moist, decadent and thoroughly naughty in the best possible way!

Tip…

Line your cake tin with a double thickness piece of foil, that is the width of your square tin but long enough to ensure that there is at least 5cms hanging over two of the tin sides. Do the same with parchment. The foil makes it easy to lift the cake from the tin when you’re ready to serve and then you just peel off the parchment for a nice, smooth finish.

Inspired by…

The cake idea came from Mary Berry but I didn’t like the sponge mix or the use of brandy in instant coffee so, the sponge is a Swiss roll recipe from Delicious magazine and the choice of kahlua in the coffee comes from Nigella’s Tiramisu recipe: team effort then!

How easy…

Very easy and it’s relaxing to assemble providing you have the time to enjoy the process. I also love that you can and should make this 24 hours before you need it. Quite a lot of clearing up but again, it’s done in advance so – no worries.

Cherry and Almond Cloud Cake

What a fantastic showoff of a summer cake this is: light, sweet sponge layers together with millions of fresh, juicy ripe cherries snuggling in light cloud-like cream: totally OTT, totally audacious and totally gorgeous!!!!! Bake when the cherries are in season and plentiful – cheap from the local market.

Serves 12 -16 lucky people

What you need…

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

8 happy eggs, separated

320g golden caster sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Grated zest of 1 lemon

320g ground almonds

50g plain flour

Pinch of salt

600ml double cream

150g Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons icing sugar, plus extra for decorating

750g cherries, stoned and halved

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 170˚c / 325˚f / gas 3.

Into your food processor, tip the egg yolks and 160g of the sugar. Whizz for 3-4 minutes, until pale and thickened. Add the vanilla essence and lemon zest and whizz to combine.

Tip the egg whites into a large mixing bowl and use an electric handheld whisk to beat until stiff peaks are formed. Add 3 tablespoons of the remaining sugar and whisk again until stiff and shiny. Tip in the rest of the sugar and whisk to incorporate. Rinse off your whisks – you’ll need them again in a bit.

Using a large metal spoon, mix a large spoonful of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to loosen. Then tip all of the yolk mixture into the whites and use a balloon whisk to gently fold together. Then, gently fold in the ground almonds, flour and salt.

Divide the cake mixture between your two prepared tins and pop in the oven to bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until the sponge comes away from the sides of the tin. Remove and leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes; then carefully invert the sponges onto a cooling rack, remove the baking parchment and cool completely.

Halve each sponge horizontally (I hate this bit – use a sharp serrated knife, take your time and keep checking that you’re cutting straight – it’ll be fine).

Using your electric handheld whisk, lightly whip together the cream, yogurt and icing sugar. Taste and add more sugar if you’d like it a bit sweeter.

Assembly time! Place one of cake base halves on a serving place and spread with ¼ cream. Scatter with ¼ cherries. Repeat with the other three sponge layers, ending with a cloud of cream and flourish of cherries. To serve, sprinkle with icing sugar and then indulge – prepare to get messy!

Serving suggestion…

Serve outside on a warm summer’s day in the dappled shade of a large tree; fizz chillin’ at your side, all with good friends and lots of laughter – perfect!

Inspired by…

Waitrose magazine but the cake was created for Suzy’s ‘21st’ birthday – I needed the excuse of a gathering to create such a large cake – even WE can’t eat that much cake!!!

How easy…

Very easy – takes a little time though. But it’s soooooooo worth it. x

Salmon with Tiger Prawns

A fast and fabulous supper dish, this recipe comes from my good friend, Julie, who recommended it as a great and different way of serving salmon. It is just that and more – it’s easy and quick and tastes absolutely great: the salmon’s all dressed up with a lovely topping that enhances it’s flavour and has the wonderful combination of a rich sauce and crispy, crunchy topping – perfect for a mid week supper that tastes like a bit of a treat!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x baking tray, liberally buttered or lined with Bake O Glide

4 x 150g middle-cut salmon fillets, skinned

Sea salt and black pepper

1 small packet plain potato crisps, crushed

A sprinkling of paprika

Fresh parsley, to garnish

for the topping

150g Boursin cheese

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

12 cooked tiger prawns, shelled

What to do…

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

For the topping, mix together the Boursin, egg yolk, lemon juice and parsley until smooth. Season to taste. Stir in the prawns so that they are completely coated.

Arrange the salmon fillets on your baking tray. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon over the topping evenly, making sure that each fillet receives 3 prawns! Sprinkle over crushed crisps and sprinkle with paprika.

Pop into the oven and cook for 15 minutes, until the salmon is cooked through. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. That’s it – fast and fabulous!

Inspired by…

My friend Julie and I believe her friend, Ali; and before them, it’s difficult to tell from the ripped out, folded and scanned page that I am very grateful to have received!

How easy…

So easy, so quick, so tasty!

Sunny Daze Cocktail

Saw this on last week’s Saturday Kitchen when Michel Roux and his team introduced it as ‘Alcoholic Pink Lemonade’. A rather uninspired name for what is the best cocktail I’ve had in a very long time: it tastes like summer in a glass and slips down very nicely – not too sweet and with a definite hint of naughtiness (it has a delightful little kick to it!) Make up a jugful and gently sip with friends beneath glorious sunshine (like today) – it really doesn’t get any better than this but I am rebranding it – Sunny Daze Cocktail it is!

Serves 4

What you need…

80ml gin

80ml Martini Rosso

80ml Grand Marnier

40ml Campari

80ml freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice

400ml cloudy lemonade

to serve

Ice

Strawberries, quartered

Mint sprigs

Grapefruit peel (peeled in long ribbons)

What to do…

Take one large jug and tip in all the cocktail ingredients. Give them a quick stir.

Fill 4 large round glasses with ice and arrange the ribbons of grapefruit peel. Pour in the cocktail mix and then pop in the strawberries and mint! Ta Dah! All done. Take outside to a garden bathed in sunshine. Sip, smile, sip again. Repeat! Cheers!

Inspired by….

Saturday Kitchen

How easy…

Just a roll of the ice!

Strawberry and Limoncello-Infused Mascarpone Tartlets

Oooooh so naughty and so easy and quick to rustle up. Crispy, crunchy, buttery filo pastry encasing Limoncello-infused mascarpone cream and topped with the season’s ripest, juiciest and sweetest English strawberries – just gorgeous!!! A word of warning though: it is impossible to eat them elegantly…but that’s part of the fun!

Makes 8

What you need…

1 x muffin tin

50g butter, melted

4 x rectangular sheets of filo pastry, each cut into 8 squares

30g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for decoration

A large pinch ground cinnamon

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon caster sugar

150g mascarpone

Grated zest of ½ lemon

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon Limoncello liqueur

300g strawberries, hulled and sliced

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180˚c / 350˚ / gas 4.

Brush 8 holes of the muffin tin with a little of the melted butter (not too much as the bottom of your tarts would be soggy and we can’t have that!)

Take 1 filo pastry square, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with icing sugar and then a little cinnamon. Do the same to another 3 squares, laying them on top of one another at a slightly different angle to create a rough star shape. Gently press the pastry into a muffin hole to create a cup. Repeat the whole process another 7 times to end up with 8 filo ‘cups’.

Pop them in the oven and cook for 8 minutes, until golden and crispy. Remove and cool for 10 minutes in their mould and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool down completely. If the bottoms are a bit too buttery, sit them on a double piece of kitchen paper on top of the cooling rack to absorb some of the butter (speaking from experience here!)

Whilst your little filo cups are in the oven, you can whip up the mascarpone cream. In a bowl, use an electric handheld whisk to beat together the egg yolk and caster sugar until pale. Add the mascarpone, lemon zest, vanilla extract and Limoncello and whisk until quite stiff. Have a little taste and adjust the sugar and Limoncello to taste!

Choose a pretty plate on which to serve this naughty little filo cups and divide the mascarpone cream evenly between them. Top with sliced strawberries and sprinkle with icing sugar. Devour immediately! Have serviettes on hand – you will need them! Enjoy this fabulous take on our traditional strawberries and cream. Hello summer!

Tip…

If you have one, use an icing sugar shaker for sweetening the filo pastry squares and decorating at the end.

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Rather too easy – I can see these being rustled up on a regular basis!

 

 

 

 

Black Pudding and Smoked Haddock Hash with Hollandaise Sauce

Rich and decadent and yet wholesomely earthy, this is a wonderfully unusual dish and is at the same time both comforting as well as tasting rather treat-like. Essentially, rather lovely with the added bonus of being ideal for breakfast, brunch or supper!

Serves 4

What you need…

500ml milk

1 bay leaf

5 fillets smoked haddock

50g butter

2 small red onions, chopped finely

300g new potatoes, cooked and roughly sliced

200g black pudding, peeled and roughly sliced

4 happy eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and quartered

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

A handful fresh parsley, chopped finely

Wholegrain mustard (optional)

for the hollandaise sauce

200g butter

4 happy egg yolks

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ tablespoon Dijon mustard

What to do…

First, pour the milk into a medium saucepan, chuck in the bay leaf and bring the milk to the boil. Slide in the fish, bring to the boil again and then remove from the heat, allowing the haddock to gently cook in the warm milk as you make the sauce and the rest of the main dish.

Starting with the sauce: in a small saucepan, gently melt the butter. Meanwhile, in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (bain marie) tip in the egg yolks, lemon juice and Dijon mustard and whisk together using a handheld electric whisk.

Transfer the melted butter to a jug and very, very gradually add it to the egg yolks, a little at a time, whisking the whole time, to create a smooth, thickened sauce. Taste and adjust the flavour by whisking in a little more Dijon or wholegrain mustard, if liked. Take the bain marie off the heat but keep the bowl over the water to keep the sauce warm whilst you finish off the main dish. Pop a small balloon whisk or a spoon in there to give the sauce a quick stir every now and then.

To the main event: melt the butter in large saucepan and sauté the onions over a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and black pudding, stirring so they are heated through and lightly coloured. Add the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and cook for a further minute. Add the parsley. Use a slotted spoon to retrieve 1 of the fish fillets from the milk and flake it into the hash.

Divide the hash between four plates. Use your slotted spoon again to retrieve each fish fillet from the milk and pop one on each pile of hash. Garnish with the egg quarters and then drizzle over a little (or a lot) of hollandaise sauce. Dig in! Absolutely yummy!

Tip…

Tip the left over egg whites into a zipped bag and freeze for future meringue-making.

Inspired by…

Izy Hossack (student and blogger) for the hollandaise sauce and Henry Harris (chef and importer of fine brandies and digestifs, as published in The Really Quite Good British Cook Book) for the main dish.

Rhubarb Pavlovas with Rhubarb, Orange & Ginger Cream

Whoa! What can I tell you? Just fabulous – meringue that’s crispy on the outside and deliciously soft and chewy in the middle topped with a light, fluffy cream that exudes gentle flavours of summer and the crowning glory on the top that is lusciously sweetened rhubarb – the sun shines with this dessert regardless of the weather and I promise that you will enjoy the taste and sensations rockin’ your taste buds!

Makes 6

What you need…

2 x baking sheets, lined with non-stick baking paper/Bake O Glide

3 egg whites

A pinch of salt

250g caster sugar, plus a further 45g

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon malt vinegar

400g rhubarb

2 tablespoons of rhubarb, orange and ginger cordial

for the cream

3 tablespoons of rhubarb, orange and ginger cordial

400ml double cream

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 140˚c / 275˚f / gas 1.

Whisk the egg whites with the salt in a large, clean bowl using a handheld electric whisk, until very stiff. Then, gradually add in the 250g caster sugar, whisking the whole time until it forms stiff peaks (about 3 – 4 minutes). Fold in the vanilla extract and malt vinegar.

Dollop the meringue onto your baking sheets, creating 6 mounds. Swirl each with the back of a spoon to create rough circles and create a shallow dip in the middle of each. Pop in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Switch the oven off but leave the meringues in there for a further 30 minutes with the door shut (the key to success!)

In another oven or once you have removed your pavlovas from the oven, preheat your oven to 200˚c / 400˚f / gas 6.

Tip the rhubarb into a baking dish and sprinkle over 2 tablespoons of the cordial together with the remaining 45g of caster sugar. Toss together, cover with foil and roast for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

To make the cream, simply use your handheld electric whisk again to beat the cream until soft peaks form (I over whisked mine the first time as seen in the photograph). Pour in the cordial and whisk gently to combine. Cover with cling film and pop into the fridge until needed.

All of this can be done in advance, leaving only the assembly job to be done before you eat! Take one meringue, dollop on some cream and then top with the delicious rhubarb. I would seriously recommend trying this one before you do the others: insert fork and enjoy the crack of the crisply meringue breaking; pull together a generous forkful of meringue (crispy and chewy) cream and rhubarb, pop into mouth and shut eyes as you party in the sensations rockin’ your taste buds! Demolish the rest!

Make up the other meringues as above but without eating all of them, if poss!

Tip…

Elderflower cordial also works wonderfully well if you can’t get hold of the rhubarb, orange and ginger variety (which I purchased from a National Trust shop).

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner for the meringue recipe and myWaitrose for the overall idea!

How easy…

Easy, quick, delicious….am making another batch tomorrow!!!!