Monthly Archives: October 2017

Chocolate Brownies with Caramel

So, my brownies (or Jamie’s I should say) have a growing fan base and are knocked up on a ridiculously frequent basis. They are dark, slightly gooey, indulgent little squares of naughtiness and I thought there would never be another brownie recipe to better them. However….drum roll….replacing 100g dark chocolate with dulce de leche (milk caramel spread) has made this version even moister and fabulously gooier but still incredibly chocolatey and practically molten inside – wow! To die for – give ‘em a go – best brownies I’ve ever tasted!!!

Makes 20 or so

What you need…

250g unsalted butter

100g 70% dark chocolate

225g (half a jar) of Dulce de Leche (milk caramel spread)

80g cocoa powder, sifted

65g plain flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

360g caster sugar

4 large free-range eggs

What to do…

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

Lightly butter and line a 24cm square baking tin with parchment paper. Roughly break up your chocolate and pop it into an heatproof bowl together with the butter. Put the bowl over a steamer, sitting in a saucepan of simmering water (bain marie). Melt the butter and chocolate, adding the dulce de leche when the chocolate is nearly all melted and mixing until smooth.

In another large bowl, thoroughly mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar.

Take the melted butter and chocolate mixture off the heat and tip into the dry ingredients, using a hand held electric whisk to mix them together thoroughly.

Whisk the eggs and then tip them into the rest of the mixture, whisking them in until you have a lovely silky, glossy smooth mixture.

Pour your brownie mix into the baking tin and place in the oven for around 30 minutes or until the outside is slightly springy. Insert a wooden skewer to see if it’s cooked – it should be fabulously gooey rather than raw!

Allow to cool in the tin, then carefully invert the bake onto a large chopping board and cut into chunky squares. Purely for quality control reasons, now is a good time to try one – just to make sure that they are OK – and ooooooooh, yummy, reach for another…

Inspired by…

Well now, this is odd. Steve, our lovely window cleaner (and ex chef) came back from his holiday full of tales of afternoon teas and the most wonderful chocolate and caramel brownies, throwing down the gauntlet for me to try to recreate them: job done!!!!

How easy…

Dead easy and oh so worth the effort!

 

Cumberland Rum Nicky

Having seen this on last week’s Great British Bake Off, I had to give it a go and….and it’s absolutely delicious! It reminds me of mince pies but has a richer, boozier and sweeter flavour and is thoroughly moreish. And then there’s the rum butter – I didn’t have the full 75ml that Mr. Hollywood recommends and thank God – with just 50ml, it was still incredibly boozy and incredibly good – an excellent accompaniment to this fab pud! Definitely give this one a go!

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

1 x 20cm pie dish, about 3cm deep, liberally buttered

for the filling

225g dates, coarsely chopped

100g dried apricots, coarsely chopped

50g stem ginger syrup, drained and finely chopped

50ml dark rum

50g soft dark brown sugar

50g unsalted butter, cut into 1–2cm cubes

for the sweet shortcrust pastry

200g plain flour

2 tablespoons icing sugar

100g cold unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes

1 large, happy egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon lemon juice

for the rum butter

100g unsalted butter, softened

225g soft light brown sugar

50ml dark rum

What to do…

Mix all the filling ingredients, except the butter, together in a bowl. Set aside

while you make the pastry.

Now, turn to making the pastry: tip the flour and icing sugar into your food processor and whizz together. Add in the cubed butter and whizz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Tip the mixture into a mixing bowl.

Mix the egg with the lemon juice and two tablespoons of cold water. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mixture. Using a table knife, work the liquid into the flour to bring the pastry together. If it seems too dry, add a splash more water. When the dough begins to stick together, use your hands to gently knead it into a ball. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Once the dough has rested, cut it into two pieces, roughly one-third and two-thirds. Roll out the larger piece on a lightly floured work surface. Line your pie dish with the pastry, leaving any excess pastry hanging over the edge. Tip the filling into the pastry case, spreading it evenly and dot with the butter.

Roll out the remaining pastry and cut it into eight long strips, roughly 1cm wide. On a sheet of baking parchment, use the pastry strips to create a lattice with four strips going each way, passing them under and over each other.

Dampen the edge of the pastry in the tin with water, then invert the lattice from the paper onto the tart. Press the ends of the strips to the pastry base to secure.

Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 160˚c / 325˚f / gas 3 and cook for a further 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the rum butter, use an electric handheld whisk to beat together the butter and sugar, then gradually beat in the rum. Pop into the fridge until needed.

Serve the tart hot, with a spoonful of rum butter. Absolutely, fabulously delicious!

Inspired by…

Paul Hollywood and The Great British Bake Off

How easy…

Really easy and an absolute joy to make.

Luscious Lemon Pavlova

Wow! I’m not a great fan of lemon curd (but made my own which is waaaaay nicer than shop-bought) but was drawn to this recipe anyway. The fabulous crisp, sweet crust of the meringue with its soft, light centre contrasts superbly with the sweet but tart lemon curd and the cloud-like whipped cream that tops it. A sprinkling of lemon zest and toasted almond slivers completes this luscious pudding that Nigella quite rightly describes as a ‘triumph’ – easy and glorious – give it a go!

Serves: 8-12

What you need…

1 x baking tray, lined with baking parchment

6 happy egg whites

375g caster suga

2½ teaspoons cornflour

Grated zest of 2 lemons, separated

Juice of 1 lemon

50g flaked almonds

300ml double cream

325g jar lemon curd (I used homemade but shop bought is fine)

What to do…

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

Using a handheld electric whisk, beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, then beat in the sugar one large spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.

Sprinkle over the cornflour, then the zest of one lemon and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.

Using a balloon whisk, gently fold in until everything is thoroughly mixed together. Mound onto your lined baking tray in a fat circle approximately 23cm in diameter, smoothing the top with a spatula.

Pop into your oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150˚C / 300˚f / gas 2 and cook for 1 hour.

Switch off your oven put leave your rather gorgeous pavlova in there for a further 30 minutes but with the door completely open – this will stop it cracking too quickly as it cools down.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.

Just before you’re ready to indulge, slide your pavlova onto a pretty serving plate.

Toast the flaked almonds, by frying them in a dry pan over a moderate heat until they have started to colour, shaking the pan regularly. Don’t take your eyes off them – this takes just a minute or so and they burn really easily. When they’re done, remove to a cold plate so that they don’t carry on cooking.

Whip the cream until soft peaks are formed (or as Nigella says, ‘has a soft voluptuousness about it!!!!!) and set aside.

If your lemon curd is shop-bought, put it into a bowl and beat it with a wooden spoon to loosen it a little and then taste it, adding a squeeze of juice if it’s too sweet.

With a light hand, a glad heart and a spatula (these are her exact words and whilst I normally re-write the recipes from scratch, this somewhat gloriously ridiculous line HAD to be left in) spread the lemon curd on top of the meringue base. Top with the whipped cream, peaking it as if it were a meringue topping and then sprinkle with the remaining lemon zest followed by the flaked almonds.

I should say serve, but honestly, once you’ve tasted the first mouthful, you’ll want to attack and devour the rest – an absolute triumph of a pudding!!!!!

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

Really easy and it is rather a show-stopper of a pud for very little effort!

 

Salt Beef (from scratch) Sandwiches

OK, so a recipe for sandwiches!!! However, these do have the wow factor and takes a week to make as I made the salt beef from scratch. You don’t have to do that but I wanted to. John’s mum used to make the most amazing salt beef and I wanted to try and emulate it – it wasn’t quite of the same calibre but it was pretty damned good and tasty enough for me to decide to do it from scratch again. The cut of beef is also dead cheap and will feed a crowd. This sandwich is spectacular – the tangy pickles, the smooth Swiss cheese together with the succulent beef – truly a thing of wonder with a definite nod towards New York delis! Every sense in me immediately demanded a second sandwich…or a third! My kinda sandwich!!!

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

for the brine

140g soft light brown sugar

175g coarse sea salt

2 teaspoon black peppercorns

½ tablespoon juniper berries

4 cloves

2 bay leaves

4 sprigs of thyme

1.25 litres water

for the beef

1.2kg piece of beef brisket

1 large carrot, chunked

1 onion, peeled and chunked

1 celery stick, chunked

1 leek, chunked

1 bouquet garni

6 garlic cloves

for the sandwiches (quantities depend on how many you’re making)

Sliced bread, buttered

Emmental slices

Pickled cumbers, sliced

for the sweet mustard

½ teaspoon English mustard powder

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

1 tablespoon runny honey

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

A pinch of salt

What to do…

Put all the ingredients for the brine into a very large saucepan and gradually bring to the boil, stirring to help the sugar and salt dissolve. Once it comes to the boil, let it bubble away for two minutes. Take off the heat and leave to cool completely.

Pierce the meat all over with a skewer. Put it in a large, sterilised plastic box or bucket (something non-reactive) and cover the meat with the brine; it must be totally immersed. Pop a lid on and leave in cold room or fridge for seven days.

Take the beef out of the brine and rinse it, then put it in a pan with the vegetables, bouquet garni and garlic, adding enough cold water to cover. Bring the water to simmering point, then leave to poach REALLY gently for two and a half to three hours. Cook until the meat is completely tender (check with a skewer).

Cut into wafer thin slices.

For each sandwich, butter 2 slices of bread and sandwich together with a slice of Emmental. Heat a griddle pan until hot, then griddle on both sides until the cheese has melted. Meanwhile, chuck all the sweet mustard ingredients into a screw-top jar, pop the lid on and shake like mad. Set aside.

Open up the sandwich and assemble your sandwich – piles of salt beef topped with pickled cucumbers and sweet mustard and then the remaining slice of bread with melted cheese. Squeeze together and tuck in – bloody gorgeous and all of your senses will simply demand another one!

Tip…

This sandwich is great with either hot or cold salt beef.

Inspired by….

A combination of two recipes; one from Diana Henry and the other from Waitrose magazine.

How easy…

Not hard at all – just remember that you’re going to fancy a salt beef sandwich one week before you want to eat it!!!!

 

 

Chicken Liver Paté with Brandy Revisited

In prep for a family gathering this weekend, I’m revisiting a few old favourites. Friday night will be a couple of cocktails followed by paté, cheeses, dips, breads and olives whilst we all catch up, so here’s the first, made today but frozen until Friday morning. This is genuinely one of the most lovely patés I have ever tasted, surpassed only by one or tried in posh restaurants! Great for sharing and also for advance prep – I’ve made one sharing dish for Friday and a further three for future occasions. Very yummy!

For the full recipe, go to the top right hand corner search box on my home page and type in Pate – this recipe together with a couple of others will pop up. Enjoy!

Sidecar

 

A distinctly grown up and classy iconic cocktail, I had never had this before but can guarantee I’ll be having it again. It tastes like something that I should be sipping all dolled up to the nines somewhere terribly posh and….equally, as much as you know it’s alcohol and you can smell alcohol, the taste is sublime but not so obviously alcoholic – deeply sophisticated with a kick! Cheers!

Serves 1 very lucky person

What you need…

1 x cocktail shaker

Caster Sugar

40ml cognac

25ml Cointreau

15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice

A strip of grated lemon peel

What to do…

Chill a cocktail glass and dip it into the caster sugar so that the rim of the glass is coated.

Tip all your other ingredients into a cocktail shaker that’s already loaded with ice cubes. Pop on the lid and shake like mad.

Pour into your glass and garnish with the lemon peel.

Sit back and enjoy your glass of sophistication with a kick!

Inspired by…

James Winter, Who Put the Beef in Wellington?

How easy…

Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Grilled Plaice with Mustard and Tarragon Sauce, Asparagus and Peas Revisited

This is such a lovely dish and because, for some unknown reason, I had a glut of plaice in the freezer, we enjoyed this dish twice again this week. The sauce is simply exquisite – a perfect foil for the fish.

This week couldn’t find fresh tarragon so used dried in the sauce but it was still lovely. Also, at the second sitting, I swapped lettuce and asparagus for buttered leeks and served the dish with oven-roasted chunked red potatoes that had been tossed in chopped garlic, dried rosemary, salt and olive oil – just yummy.

Where’s the recipe…?

To find the original, simply go to the search box in the top right hand corner of my home page and type in ‘plaice’ – it’ll pop up! Enjoy xx

 

Chocolate and Coffee Mousse with Rum

Silky, smooth and deeply, decadently chocolatey with a hint of rum, these very grown up chocolate mousses takes just a few minutes to knock up and even less time to demolish! Very yummy and deliciously naughty!

Makes 6

What you need…

125g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chunked

25ml espresso coffee

1 tablespoon rum

3 large, happy eggs, separated

1 tablespoon maple syrup

What to do…

Use a handheld electric whisk to beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Set aside.

Tip the chocolate into a heatproof bowl, add the espresso and rum and then sit the bowl in a steamer over a pan of boiling water (bain marie).

As soon as the chocolate has melted, take the bowl out of the bain marie and allow the chocolate mixture to cool for 2 minutes. Stir in the egg yolks and maple syrup.

Use a metal balloon whisk to fold 1 spoonful of egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Tip in the remainder of the egg white and then very gently fold into the mixture, again using the balloon whisk.

Divide the mixture between 6 pretty glasses, cups or bowls and pop into the fridge for 2 hours.

If you fancy, you can decorate your mousses with a little grated white chocolate, but otherwise just serve them as the come – deliciously naughty!

Inspired by…

Kirstie Allsopp

How Easy…

Really, really easy and quick.