Monthly Archives: March 2018

Bakewell Tart

Such a joy this one: crisp pastry encircling the sweet, luscious and moist frangipane ‘sponge’ with a gorgeous little lip smacker of raspberry jam; all of which is topped with flaked almonds and a smattering of icing – absolutely delicious and something eccentrically and essentially English about the whole thing! Perfect for springtime, perfect with a cup of tea – an absolute darling of a pud!

Serves 12-14

What you need…

for the pastry

25cm x 4cm deep loose-bottomed tart tin, liberally buttered and lined on the bottom with parchment paper

250g plain flour, plus a little for dusting

50g icing sugar, plus a little for dusting

A pinch of salt

135g butter, straight from the fridge, cut into small cubes

1 large, happy egg, beaten

2 tablespoons ice cold water

for the filling

200g raspberry jam

250g unsalted butter, softened

250g caster sugar

2 large, happy eggs, beaten

80g plain flour

250g ground almonds

Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

40g flaked almonds

4 tablespoons apricot jam

2 tablespoons water

20-30ml amaretto liqueur

40g icing sugar

What to do…

First, to the pastry: tip the flour into your food processor. Sift in the icing sugar and salt. Add the butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Tip in the beaten egg and water and pulse until it comes together.

Dust your worktop with sifted icing sugar and a little plain flour. Gather the pastry up into your hands and then quickly knead it on your worktop to form a ball.

Roll out to just over the thickness of a £1 coin and line your tart tin and then pop in the fridge for 30 minutes. Trim away the excess pastry, prick the bottom of the pastry case with a fork and pop in the freezer for 10 minutes. I don’t know why I do this but it works this way. I can’t be doing with the chillin’ before the rollin’ – it just doesn’t work out for me – this way does! Whop your oven on to 180˚c / 350˚ / gas 4 and put a large baking sheet inside.

Line your pastry case with foil and then fill up with baking beans before popping in the oven onto the baking sheet for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and pop it right back for a further 10 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature and then spread over the raspberry jam.

Pop your baking sheet back into the oven.

To the frangipane filling: tip the butter and caster sugar into your food processor and whizz until pale and fluffy. Whilst still whizzing, slowly add the eggs little by little. Tip in the flour and whizz until incorporated. Then tip in the ground almonds, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Whizz until evenly mixed in.

Dollop the filling on top of the raspberry jam and level with the back of a spoon. Scatter over the flaked almonds and slide the tin onto the hot baking sheet and bake for 50-55 minutes until golden and just set.

Remove your tart to a cooling rack to start to cool.

In little saucepan, warm the apricot jam and water, stirring to mix together. Strain and then brush over the top of the still-warm tart.

Stir the amaretto liqueur into the icing sugar to create runny icing and then drizzle over the cooled tart. Leave to set for 10 minutes before serving. A lovely treat and absolute crowd pleaser.

Inspired by…

The pastry is my favourite recipe for sweet short crust pasty and the only recipe I use now: from Camilla Stephens, Higgidy. The main recipe is courtesy of Nathan Outlaw and was published in Delicious magazine.

How easy…

Very easy, now I’ve found a ‘no-fail’ pastry recipe. It takes time though, not that you need to be in kitchen throughout.

 

 

A Little Aside: Creamed Leeks with Chestnut and Thyme Crumble

Rich and comforting, this is a lovely alternative to the traditional vegetables that we usually have with our Sunday roast. I think you get to this time of year and, as much as the Sunday roast is a fabulous treat, a little variety is called for when we’ve been enjoying the meal most weekends since October! Also, joy of joys, most of the prep on this can be done in advance – always good news when a Sunday Roast is involved!

Serves 6 as a side dish

What you need…

for the crumble topping

100g butter, softened

150g plain flour

50g ground almonds

30g suet

1 happy egg yolk

50g cooked chestnuts, chopped (vacuum-packed or frozen work well)

5 tablespoons thyme, leaves picked

Sea salt and black pepper

for the leeks

1kg leeks, trimmed and chunked

100g butter

Sea salt and black pepper

200ml double cream

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

What to do…

First, to the crumble: tip the butter and flour into your food processor and whizz until the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs. Remove the mixing blade and stir through the ground almonds and suet until evenly incorporated. Likewise, the egg yolk and finally add the chestnuts, thyme, salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Turning to the leeks: melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and gently cook the leeks with a little salt and pepper until softened. Pour in the cream and reduce until thickened. Tip into an ovenproof dish and allow to cool.

20 minutes before you’re due to serve your lunch, top leeks with the crumble and scatter over the nutmeg. Bake in a preheated oven at 160˚c / 325˚f / gas 3 for 15 – 20 minutes until crunchy and golden brown – absolutely delicious!

Inspired by…

Lee Bennett, crafthouse-restaurant.com and published by theguardian.com

How easy…

Very and I love that it can be prepared largely in advance.

 

Mary’s Kedgeree

So, I’ve made kedgeree before, albeit with hake because I couldn’t get hold of haddock (!) and thoroughly enjoyed it. But, when I saw ma’am making it as part of her current ‘Classic’ TV series, my interest was sufficiently piqued to give her version a go and….it is really, really good: rich and flavoursome – it tastes like an absolute treat and I’ll definitely be doing it again. Supposedly a recipe for an indulgent, leisurely breakfast, it works equally well as a lovely family supper (speaking from experience).

Serves 4

What you need…

A couple of splashes of rapeseed oil

3 onions: 2 thinly sliced and 1 finely chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

500g smoked haddock fillets (I used dyed but Mary specifies undyed)

100g smoked salmon

250g basmati rice

3 cardamom pods, split

3cm-long cinnamon stick

450ml cold water

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 large, happy eggs

30g butter

100ml single cream

2 tablespoons coriander, finely chopped

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Juice of ½ lemon

What to do…

Heat your first splash of oil in a medium-sized frying pan over a moderate heat and sauté the two sliced onions gently, for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are crisp and deep golden brown.

Season with salt and pepper, tip out on kitchen paper, and set aside in a warm place.

Put the haddock, skin-side down, in a large, deep-sided frying pan and pour over enough water to just cover. Simmer, covered, over a low heat for 5-8 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the heat. Lay the smoked salmon in the liquid, cover, and let stand for 2 minutes. Drain the fish, discard the skins and flake into large chunks. Set aside.

Wipe out your large frying pan with kitchen paper and then add your second splash of oil, warming over a moderate heat. Add the chopped onion, cardamom pods, and cinnamon and sauté about 5 minutes, or until the onion is golden-brown. Tip in the rice and stir through. Pour in the cold water and stir in the turmeric. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, stir, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Take the rice off the heat and let it stand, covered, for 5 minutes before fluffing up the grains with a fork.

Meanwhile, boil your eggs. Pop them in a saucepan of boiling water and simmer for 6 minutes, a little longer if you like the yolks cooked more. Remove from the heat, drain then pour cold water over the eggs. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and quarter.

Remove the cinnamon stick from the rice and carefully stir in the butter, cream, coriander, fish, and eggs. Season with salt and cayenne pepper and squeeze in the lemon juice. Heat thoughly over a low heat, stirring gently once or twice, making sure you don’t break up the fish.

Serve your stupendously yummy kedgeree topped with the warm crispy onion: enjoy!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Very easy and satisfying to make

 

A Little Aside: Parsnips in Creamy Juniper Sauce

This is a truly delicious way to serve parsnips and makes a great, slightly luxurious, change from the various roasted versions that we frequent. For some reason, the natural flavour of the parsnips is accentuated – not sure why but they are gorgeous. We’ve indulged in them with the ‘venison with red wine and chocolate sauce’ recipe: the combination was fabulous. They would also go down really well with a nice bit of steak I reckon. Whatever: enjoy!

Serves 4 as a side dish

What you need…

250ml hot water from the kettle

1 chicken stock pot (I use Knorr)

Splash of rapeseed oil

4 shallots, peeled and halved

3 large parsnips, peeled and cut into wine cork-sized chunks

4 garlic cloves, chopped

8 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked

15 juniper berries, lightly crushed

Sea salt and black pepper

125ml double cream

What to do…

Make some chicken stock by dissolving the chicken stock pot into the hot water, using a balloon whisk to help things along.

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

Warm the oil over a moderate heat in a casserole for which you have a snugly fitting lid. Chuck in the shallots, parsnips and garlic and sauté until lightly golden. Pour in the stock and stir, ensuring that any deliciousness stuck to the bottom of the pan is reincorporated.

Tip in the thyme and the juniper berries and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Whop up the heat and bring the sauce to the boil. Cover with the lid and pop in the oven for 20 minutes.

Place your casserole back on the hob on a high heat and reduce the liquid by half. Stir in the cream, check the seasoning and make sure it’s thoroughly hot before serving – quite simply delicious – I have been tempted to eat just a bowl of these rather than making them merely a little aside!

Inspired by…

The sauce was originally part of a pot-roasted partridge recipe, courtesy of Nigel Slater. I adapted that one, swapping finicky partridge for plump chicken thighs and then thought we’d let the parsnips have an exclusive moment wallowing in the delicious sauce – good call if I do say so myself!

How easy…

Very easy: hob, oven and then a bit of last minute hob that needs little attention!

Rhubarb Crumble with Nutmeg and Pistachios

I adore rhubarb and am loving the fact that recipes using the stuff currently abound. I was drawn to this one because of the inherent feeling of comfort that comes with a crumble pudding and because of its sheer simplicity. Then to the flavour: that fabulous tart sweetness that is unique to rhubarb, topped with a lovely, gently spiced crunchy crumble mixture that is an absolutely superb foil to the sweet filling – perfect for a cold winter’s day and ridiculously quick and easy: fast comfort food!

Serves 6

What you need…

for the rhubarb

1 x 2-litre ovenproof dish, buttered

800g rhubarb, trimmed and chunked into 3cm lengths

75g golden caster sugar

2 tablespoons self-raising flour

for the crumble

150g self-raising flour

150g golden caster sugar

150g ground pistachios

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

150g unsalted butter, chilled and chunked

What to do…

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

Toss the rhubarb in the sugar and self-raising flour and arrange in the bottom of your ovenproof dish.

Tip all of the crumble ingredients into your food processor whizz to crumbs that are just starting to stick together. Scatter evenly over the rhubarb. Pop into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden and crisp and the luscious juices are starting to bubble up the sides.

Serve with a dollop of ice-cream, a smothering of warm custard or a swirl of double cream. Enjoy this stupendously simple, delicious pud!

Inspired by…

You magazine (Mail on Sunday)

How easy…

Stupendously!

Jambalaya

Honestly, the best way that I can describe this delightful supper dish is ‘a festival of fabulous flavours having a party with your taste buds!’ I was trying to describe it to my daughter, Maddie, who was not here to savour this latest culinary creation and said, ‘It’s a bit like paella but with more oomph!’ (Don’t get me wrong, I love paella and I personally think the two dishes should not compete with one another!) Anyway, then I googled it….see below. In the meantime, give it a go – flavour fiesta!

Serves 4

What you need…

Splash of rapeseed oil

4 chicken breasts, sliced

400g chorizo, chopped

2 onions, finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced

2 celery sticks, chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon mustard powder

A few grinds of black pepper

300g long grain rice

1 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes

300ml chicken stock

300g raw prawns

12 mussels

12 clams

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

5 spring onions, trimmed and sliced

What to do…

Use a heavy, high-sided frying pan to place over a moderate heat. Warm your oil and add the chicken breasts, cooking until they start to brown. Then add the chorizo and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until it starts to brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove both from the pan and set aside.

Return the pan to the heat and add the onions, cooking until softened. Tip in the garlic, peppers, celery, thyme and oregano, stirring to evenly mix. Return the chicken and chorizo to the pan together with the garlic salt, paprika, cayenne, mustard powder and black pepper. Stir well.

Then, tip in the rice, tomatoes and stock and give the whole lot a good stir. Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. It’s probably worth checking every now and then just to make sure it’s not sticking to the pan. Add the prawns, mussels and clams and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the shells have opened and the prawns have turned pink.

Sprinkle with parsley and spring onions and serve. Party on!

Tip…

When I added the rice, I walked off and left it for a while, to enjoy wine-time with hubby, popping back firstly to check it hadn’t stuck and secondly to switch the hob off and add the seafood. I gave it a quick stir, rammed the lid back on and went off for another 15 minutes to enjoy wine and good company. Just before we sat down to eat, I turned the heat up high and just warmed everything through (the seafood had gently cooked in my absence!)

A bit about Jambalaya…

According to Google, Creole jambalaya originates from the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the original European sector. It was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World, where saffron was not readily available due to import costs. Tomatoes became the substitute for saffron.

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Very easy. Get the prep done and then it takes barely any effort at all!

 

 

 

 

The Ooziest, Naughtiest Chocolate Brownies with Melted Mars Bar Chunks

What can I say?! This version of ‘my’ previous brownie recipe hits new heights in gorgeousness with many exclamations of delight going down with each mouthful as well as some rather unbecoming behaviour as more little squares of oozy naughtiness are scrabbled for and scoffed. I have fellow foodie, Steve Gingell (and his son) to thank for this version, who I believe are both on a quest for the most sensational brownie – this might well be it!

Makes 20 largish or 30 smallish brownies

What you need…

250g unsalted butter

200g 70% dark chocolate

80g cocoa powder, sifted

65g plain flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

360g caster sugar

4 large free-range eggs

8 fun-sized Mars Bars, each cut into 4 chunks

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 a large heatproof bowl together with the butter. Put the bowl over a steamer, sitting in a saucepan of simmering water. Melt the butter and chocolate, mixing until smooth.

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

Take the melted butter and chocolate mixture off the heat and carefully pour into the dry ingredients, using a spatular to scrape in every last bit. Use a handheld electric whisk to mix all the ingredients 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. Tip in your Mars Bar chunks and gently stir them so that they are evenly distributed.

Pour your brownie mix into the baking tin and place in the oven for around 25 minutes. When done, your oozy chocolate brownie ‘tray bake’ should be slightly springy on the outside but still very gooey in the middle.

Allow to cool in the tin, then carefully invert the bake onto a large chopping board and cut into little or large 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 – not grab or scrabble – for another…

Inspired by…

The original brownie recipe was that of Jamie Oliver. However, the idea of including the Mars Bars was that of fellow foodie, Steve Gingell, whose son gave this version a bash – so pleased he shared!

How easy…

Child’s play. In fact, this seems to be a regular event during visits by grandkids and nieces – when do we make the brownies?!