Monthly Archives: February 2018

Passion Fruit Melting Moments

Seriously melt in the mouth moment treats these – the wonderfully buttery biscuits are sandwiched together with luscious passion fruit-infused butter cream to create quite the sensation for the taste buds! Perfect for that mid afternoon cup of tea or just to snaffle at whim! Fabulous – must make more….x

Makes around 14

What you need…

1 x piping bag fitted with large star or plain nozzle

2 x baking sheets, each lined with baking parchment

6 passion fruit

250g salted butter, softened

60g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

230g plain flour

75g cornflour

for the butter cream

100g salted butter, softened

150g icing sugar, sifted

Passion fruit juice (from those above)

What to do…

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

Halve each passion fruit and scoop out the flesh into a sieve, pressing down with the back of a spoon to release as much juice as possible.

For the biscuits, tip the butter and icing sugar into your food processor and whizz until pale. Tip in the flour and cornflour together with 2½ tablespoons passion fruit juice and 2½ tablespoons of just-boiled water. Whizz until the mixture comes together, scraping down if needed.

Scoop the mixture into your piping bag and then pipe 28 x 5cm rosettes onto your baking trays, about 3cms apart and pop into the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes or until pale and golden.

Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets and then carefully transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the passion fruit butter cream. Wash out and dry your food processer bowl and blending blade. Tip in the butter, icing sugar and remaining passion fruit juice and whizz until pale and fluffy.

Sandwich together your biscuits with a generous dollop of butter cream, arrange on a pretty serving plate and dust with icing sugar. Any that are broken during the process have to be immediately scoffed (chef’s privilege!)

Serve with a cup of tea, ideally in the middle of the afternoon sat outside in flower-scented garden on a gentle summer’s day…or whenever you fancy a lovely little melting moment of a treat…

Inspired by…

Not sure – it’s a ripped out page from a magazine from last Easter!

How easy…

Ever so and they are truly delightful.

Baked Camembert in Bread

Unbelievably yummy, this makes for a fabulous starter or part of a picnic supper of patés and cheeses. Ridiculously simple, it also has the added benefit of bringing a bit of theatre to the table as the knife is inserted and melted Camembert oozes out. The addition of the herbs adds a lovely dimension to a cheese that is already a favourite.

What you need…

1 x baking tray

250g round Camembert

1 round loaf (e.g. boule)

2 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked

3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked

Sea salt

Olive oil, to drizzle

What to do…

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

Sit the Camembert in its packaging on top of the bread in the centre, using it as a template to cut around. Set the cheese aside and continue to cut the circle so that it is about 4cms deep. Pull the circle of bread out of the middle to leave a snug hole in which to place your Camembert (packaging removed).

Cut the removed bread into chunks and set all but 2-3 of them aside. Pop the 2-3 chunks of bread into your food processor with the rosemary and thyme and whizz to make crumbs. Stir in some salt (I use rock salt as I enjoy the crunchy chunks).

Put the bread onto your baking tray and sprinkle over the crumbs. Drizzle with olive oil and pop into your oven for 20 minutes. Then, add the reserved chunks of bread to the baking tray, cooking for a further 10 minutes.

Serve the cheese with a ceremonious deep cut into the middle and then use the baked chunks of bread to dip into the oozing yumminess! Delicious!

Tip…

This dish also works spectacularly with Vacherin cheese, but it is only easily available a few weeks each year and is a bit pricey.

Inspired by…

Waitrose Weekend

How easy…

Cut hole in bread. Insert cheese. Sprinkle with bits. Bake. Dead easy!

Rhubarb and Orange Polenta Cake

OK, so not much of a looker this one but OMG, so totally scrumptious! Sweet rhubarb and orange flavours work lusciously with the moistness of the sponge, a thing of gorgeousness as a result of the ground almonds and the fresh juice being drizzled over at the end. Honestly, cut yourself a fat wedge when it’s still warm from the oven and I promise you’ll be wanting a second! Oh, and another thing, it’s easy and effortless!

Serves 8 – 10 (or just 2!)

What you need…

1 x 20cm loose-bottomed, deep-sided cake tin, buttered and lined

150g butter, room temperature

200g caster sugar

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange

3 large, happy eggs, lightly beaten

150g polenta

1½ teaspoons baking powder

75g ground almonds

400g rhubarb, trimmed and chunked

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

What to do…

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

Into your food processor, tip the butter, sugar and orange zest and whizz until pale and fluffy.

Whilst still whizzing, gradually add the beaten egg. Tip in the polenta, baking powder and ground almonds and beat until evenly incorporated.

Dollop half the mixture into your cake tin and then arrange the rhubarb evenly over the top. Dollop in the remaining mixture – don’t worry about smoothing it over – no need.

Pop into your oven and bake for 1 – 1¼ hours until well risen and golden and when an inserted skewer comes out clean and dry.

Use your skewer to poke holes all over the surface of the cake, drizzle over the orange juice and then sprinkle over the sugar.

Leave to cool a little in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack. Personally, I’d go for a big fat slab now….whatever’s left can cool – just luscious!

Serving suggestion…

Large, moist slices, still warm from the oven are best but there’s nothing wrong with the cooled version either. On it’s glorious lonesome or with crème fraîche or either vanilla or cinnamon ice cream – delicious!

Inspired by…

Waitrose Weekend

How easy…

Effortless!

Mojito Cheesecakes

Quick and easy, light and refreshing, these elegant little lovelies also combine the wonderful contrast that is the almond-flavoured amaretti biscuits with the sharp lime and of course, the essential boozy kick of the rum – fab!

Makes 4 large ones or 6 petite ones (no prizes for guessing which ones I made!)

What you need…

Cocktail glasses or ramekins in which to serve

25g butter

60g amaretti biscuits, roughly crushed

100g full fat cream cheese

150ml double cream

2 tablespoons white rum

25g icing sugar

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 large lime

Extra grated lime zest or mint leaves, to decorate

What to do…

Melt the butter and then tip all but 2 tablespoons of the amaretti biscuits into the butter and stir to combine. Divide the butter-coated amaretti between your glasses/ramekins. Lightly press down.

In a large bowl, use an electric handheld whisk to beat together the cream cheese and cream. Add the rum, icing sugar and lime zest. Whisk again to combine. Tip in the lime juice and whisk again – the mixture will instantly thicken. Use a spoon to divide the filling between your glasses/ramekins.

Sprinkle the remaining amaretti crumbs over each cheesecake and then decorate with lime zest or mint leaves.

Pop in the fridge to chill. (They will also be fine for up to 2 days). Serve probably a little under room temperature – absolutely fabulous!

Inspired by…

The legend that is Mary Berry

How easy…

Fabulously!

Valentine’s Day Dinner Menu Ideas

If you’re thinking of staying in for a candlelit dinner for two to celebrate Valentine’s day, I have some loved-up menu ideas which are all about pure indulgence! My favourite options for romance are as follows:

Rhubarb and Vodka Love Potion

~

Crab and Prawn Coconut Soup

or

Gambas Pil Pil

~

Venison with Red Wine and Chocolate Sauce and Celeriac and Apple Puree

or

Chicken Wrapped in Parma Ham

~

Profiteroles

or

Espresso Panna Cotta

or

Lemon Tart

or

All Three!!!!!

~

Chocolate Cocktail

Tip…

Both of the starters can be prepared in advance as can all three of the dessert options.

Inspired by…

My love of cooking and sharing food with those I love xx

How easy…

The starters and desserts are all easy and can be prepared in advance. Both of the main course take a little time and attention but are sooooooo worth it and will be appreciated. The cocktails, to start and finish should be done together I think! (The base for the chocolate cocktail can be made in advance).

Baked Lemon Curd Syrup Sponges with Brandy Custard

Perfect for this time of year: hot, delightfully sticky yet light individual little sponges with a gorgeous gooey middle and all topped up with brandy-infused custard – almost a winter essential, I’d say! We had ours to round off a Sunday Roast – bang on!

What you need…

6 x dariole moulds, liberally buttered and lined with a disk of non-stick baking paper

1 x baking tray

115g butter, softened

115g light muscovado sugar

2 large, happy eggs

115g self-raising flour

1 handful of panko breadcrumbs (or ordinary breadcrumbs will work just as well)

Grated zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½

Grated zest of 1 orange and juice of ½

6 tablespoons golden syrup

1 tablespoon brandy, plus 1½ tablespoons for the custard

6 rounded teaspoons lemon curd

500ml fresh custard

What to do…

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

Into your food processor tip the butter, sugar, eggs and flour and whizz until combined. Chuck in the breadcrumbs and half the zest and pulse to incorporate.

In a small bowl, mix together the remaining zest, juice, golden syrup and 1 tablespoon brandy. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the bottom of each dariole mould, reserving the rest.

Divide the sponge mixture evenly between the moulds and then plop 1 teaspoon lemon curd into the middle of each (it will merge with the sponge).

Put the moulds onto a baking tray and pop into your oven to bake for 30 minutes until risen and golden.

Meanwhile, use a saucepan to gently warm the custard, stirring through it 1½ tablespoons brandy.

To serve, invert each dariole mould onto a plate, tapping the bottom with the handle of metal knife if the sponges need a little encouragement to plop out. Drizzle over the remaining syrup and serve with a big smile and the boozy custard. Cold winter evenings definitely have some benefits!

Inspired by…

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Remarkably easy and I love that fact that you can do most of the prep before you sit down to dinner.

Super-Fast Sassy Salmon and Stir Fry Supper

Sooooo easy, soooooo fast and sooooo tasty: a perfect mid week family supper! I found this unusual marinade of maple syrup with wholegrain mustard at my friend, Denise’s house, while visiting her home in Abu Dhabi last November. We love this sassy version of salmon so much, we’ve had it practically once a week since we got back.

What you need…

1 x baking tray

4 chunky salmon fillets

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard

for the stir-fry

Splash of rapeseed oil

4 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped

Large knob of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated

½ teaspoon dried crushed chilli

2 bags of ready-prepared stir fry veg – whichever mix takes your fancy

2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

A few spring onions, sliced, to garnish (optional)

What to do…

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

In a cup, mix together 2 tablespoons maple syrup with the whole grain mustard. Pop your salmon fillets onto the baking tray and spoon over the syrup mix. Whop into the oven for 20 minutes.

Around 10 minutes into the salmon’s cooking time, take a wok or deep wide saucepan and warm your oil over a moderate-high heat and then toss in the garlic, ginger and chilli. Cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously.

Whop the heat up to high and chuck in the stir fry vegetables and cook according to the packet instructions (usually 6 minutes, stirring and tossing continuously). 2 minutes before the end, tip in the Chinese cooking wine, maple syrup and soy sauce – stir and toss. Scatter with spring onion slices, if using.

That’s it! Serve your delicious, sassy salmon with a heaped portion of equally fab stir fry and enjoy. So easy, so fast and I kid you not, so tasty – enjoy!!!!

Serving suggestion…

Serve the salmon with stir fry in the winter and a rocket-based salad in the summer. I bet it would go well barbecued as well….

Tip…

I’ve also used this glaze on chicken breasts and that’s pretty good too!

Inspired by…

My lovely but far-too-distant friend, Denise! And the stir-fry ingredients are adapted from a Ching He Huang recipe that I use.

How easy…

It couldn’t be any easier!