Author Archives for Cindy Duffield

Absolutely Delicious Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti

One from my daughter, Maddie, who found this recipe on the Internet to liven up her Uni dinners. What a joy when she offered to cook the recipe on her last trip home! As much as I love cooking, it is an absolute treat when someone else offers to do it and this recipe went straight to the top of my ‘favourites’ list of pasta dishes – it’s hearty and really flavoursome – the tomatoes and spinach contrast perfectly with the richness of the cream and the dish is quite honestly, just fantastic! A perfect family supper dish – thanks Madz – you can do it again!!!!

Serves 6

What you need…

Splash of olive oil

4 chicken breasts, seasoned

8 rashers back bacon, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

300ml double cream

8 tomatoes, roughly chopped

150g spinach

Sea salt and black pepper

150g Parmesan, grated

A large handful fresh basil leaves, torn

Dried spaghetti (amount depends on how hungry you are)

What to do…

In a large saucepan, bring to the boil salted water in which to cook the spaghetti.

In a large frying pan, warm the oil over a moderate heat and then cook the chicken breasts for 6 minutes on each side. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Pop your spaghetti into the pan of boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions: mine is about 12 minutes.

Add the bacon to the chicken pan and fry until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside onto kitchen paper.

Into the pan chuck the garlic. Fry for 1 minute and then add the tomatoes, cooking for 5 minutes. Toss in the spinach and pour in the cream, cooking through until the spinach has mostly wilted.

Tip in the cooked chicken and bacon, stir to evenly incorporate and then add the Parmesan and basil.

Drain the spaghetti and add to the sauce. Mix the whole lot together so the sauce beautifully coats the pasta.

Serve to six hungry people, perhaps with a glass or two of robust red wine and enjoy this truly hearty, really tasty pasta dish.

Inspired by…

Maddie, who found the recipe on the Twisted Food website

How easy…

Fast, easy and very student-friendly!

Dips and Tapenades for Drinks or a Picnic

Having friends around for drinks or a picnicky lunch? Dips are always welcome. Here we have a selection of tapenades and dips to tempt the taste buds – the juicy, sweet but piquant sun-dried tomato version and the more earthy, intense olive one both shout with flavours of the Mediterranean. Then, there’s this recipe for guacamole which combines the luscious creaminess of avocado with a fresh coriander edge and a real kick of chilli. The three were all made in advance and in less than half an hour, using a mini food processor for each one and a quick wipe out in between – simple! Hummus – a staple in our household – has already been blogged but takes just seconds to knock up. In essence, dip into a quick, easy and vast array of flavours- yummy!

What you need…

for the Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Tapenade

200g sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained

A large handful of fresh basil leaves

1 garlic clove, peeled

2 tablespoons olive oil (from the jar of sun dried tomatoes if possible)

50g pine nuts

for the Olive Tapenade

100g pitted black olives, drained

100g pitted green olives, drained

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 anchovies in oil, drained

½ garlic clove, peeled

Black pepper, to taste

for the Guacamole with Coriander

1medium tomato, quartered

1 just-ripe avocado, peeled and roughly chopped

½ fresh green chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped

½ garlic clove, peeled and chopped

A large handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Zest of half a lime, finely grated

A good squeeze lime juice

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

What to do…

Stick all the ingredients for the sun-dried tomato tapenade into your food processor. Whizz until smooth. Decant into a serving bowl. Cover with cling film and pop into the fridge until needed.

Rinse out your food processor and blade. Dry with kitchen paper. Chuck all the ingredients for the olive tapenade into your processor and whizz until smooth. Decant into a serving bowl. Cover with cling film and pop into the fridge until needed.

Rinse out your food processor and blade. Tip all the ingredients for the guacamole into your processor, marvel at how lovely it is to have such a great gadget and then whizz the ingredients until the consistency is as you would like – rustically chunky, elegantly smooth or something in between! Decant into a serving bowl. Cover with cling film and pop into the fridge until needed.

Serve with hummus and an assortment of breads, crackers and crudités; some cold, crisp dry white wine and most importantly a good collection of family and friends. Enjoy!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

An absolute whizz!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Easter Cake

Yesterday’s total naughtiness! This most chocolatey of chocolate cakes is based on the same recipe used in the 365 Celebration Cake except I doubled the amount of chocolate butter cream to accommodate the fact that I sliced each sponge in half to create 4 layers of sponge and 3 layers of chocolate butter cream. And inside……a hollow was cut out of the cooked sponges to make room for a jumble of easter eggs and chocolate bunnies to tumble out when the first slices were cut…. The nest was the result of 3 Cadbury’s Flakes being chopped and arranged, stuck together with melted milk chocolate and a pile of mini eggs: Happy Easter!!!!

Scots Whisky Orange Cream

So quick, so light, so delicious and essentially it is just orange and whisky-infused cream…but it tastes like so much more, is intense and should only be served in small portions! Enjoy!

Serves 8

What you need…

100ml whisky

100g caster sugar

3 tablespoons fine-cut marmalade

Juice of ½ orange

Pared rind of 1 orange, cut into 2 halves

450ml double cream

16 – 24 fresh raspberries, to decorate

What to do…

Tip the whisky, sugar, marmalade, orange juice and half the pared orange rind into a saucepan. Stir over a moderate heat until the sugar dissolves and the marmalade melts. Bring to the boil, allow to bubble for 1 minute and then remove the syrup that you’ve created from the heat and set aside for at least 1 hour (I did this bit in the morning and then finished the desserts later in the afternoon).

Remove the orange rind from the syrup and discard. Pour the syrup into a mixing bowl. Then add the cream and whisk using an electric hand whisk until soft peaks form.

Spoon into 8 pretty glasses or cups (choose wide-necked ones if you don’t want to make this bit tricky). Cut the remaining orange rind into thin strips and then decorate each of your whisky creams with a scattering of orange rind and 2 – 3 raspberries – simply wonderful!!!

Tip…

Will keep in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Seriously? It couldn’t be easer!

Torta alle Arance e Grand Marnier

 

Roughly translated from Italian, this Orange and Grand Marnier Upside Down Cake comprises a lovely light, moist sponge topped with juicy, sweet oranges, a delectable caramel and then a splosh of Grand Marnier – simply wonderful!

Serves 8

What you need…

1 x 20cm flan dish or similar, liberally buttered

210g granulated sugar

4 oranges, peeled and cut into 5mm slices

3 large happy eggs

120g caster sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons orange zest, finely grated

125g plain flour, sifted

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier

What to do…

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

Over a moderate heat, make the caramel by tipping the granulated sugar into a non-stick saucepan and adding 3 teaspoons of water. Stir occasionally until the sugar first dissolves and boils gently and starts to darken. (This takes about 10 minutes). Tip the caramel into your flan dish.

Gently arrange the orange slices over the caramel, slightly overlapping. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, crack the eggs and use a handheld electric whisk to beat them until they are fluffy and nearly doubled in volume. Tip in the caster sugar and whisk until creamy and thick.

Add the baking powder and orange zest and continue to whisk until the mixture forms thick ribbons. Tip in the flour and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in until thoroughly incorporated.

Pour the mixture over the orange slices and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Use a knife to cut around the edge of the sponge and then, armed with oven gloves, place a serving plate on top of the flan case and quickly invert the orange sponge out onto it – quite spectacular!!!

Drizzle over the Grand Marnier and serve at room temperature, perhaps with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream or some double cream that has a little Grand Marnier mixed in.

Tip…

Once you have poured your caramel into the flan dish, fill the saucepan up with water and bring to the boil – this will melt the remaining stuck and rock-hard caramel, which you can then just tip down the sink – saves on all that scrubbing!

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Very easy and rather impressive looking as well as great on the taste buds!

 

 

 

1st Proper BBQ of the Season!

So, we had one last week on the beach – lovely idea but…burgers with sand, sausages with sand, halloumi with sand…work in progress. Anyway, today was the first PROPER one and we went all out: halloumi, garlic bread with mozzarella, lobster tails with garlic butter, salmon with rosemary and garlic, chicken with my favourite marinade, sausages, burgers in brioche buns and posh roasted vegetables (not quite ready for salad!) Bloody marvellous!!! The sun shone, the wine flowed and the afternoon simply chillaxed by….happy days! (All recipes listed above previously blogged). xxx

Spicy Gammon Steak with Mascarpone Peas

The name gives absolutely no clue as to how absolutely delicious this dish is. I loved it so much, I enjoyed it two days running!!! The gammon takes on a real razzle dazzle star quality and quite frankly, peas in mascarpone are going to be a regular event. Try this! It’s fast and fabulous – buonissimo!

Serves 2

What you need…

Splash of rapeseed oil

4 teaspoons salted butter

1 teaspoon dried crushed chillies

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

2 gammon steaks (choose thick, juicy ones – maybe 2cm)

160g frozen peas, defrosted

4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Heat half the oil and half the butter in a frying pan, add the crushed chillies and half the parsley. Then pop in the gammon steaks and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Transfer gammon and juices to a baking tray and pop in a low oven to keep warm.

Wipe out the pan with kitchen roll and return to the heat with the remaining oil and butter. Add the peas and cook over a high heat for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.

Season with salt and pepper, add the mascarpone and remaining parsley. Stir the lot together and serve these party-dressed peas to accompany the razzle-dazzle gammon – that’s it – buonissimo!

Serving suggestion…

Red potatoes, sliced or chunked, tossed with olive oil, dried rosemary and chopped garlic and the cooked in the oven for 35 minutes: lovely!

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Marvelously easy and it tastes like something that was meticulously created!

 

 

Cod ‘BLT’

I was drawn to this recipe mainly because I thought that the combination of cod, bacon, tomato and lettuce with a dressing was nothing short of bonkers! Anyway, dubiously I created my take on Nathan Outlaw’s orginal recipe (which as a little too cheffy for me) and was absolutely gob-smacked at what a wonderful dish it turned out to be (the dressing in particular is divine) – a great and very different salad for a summer’s evening supper!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x baking tray, liberally buttered

1kg cod, gutted, filleted and skinned

4 rashers of streaky bacon

Sea salt and black pepper

2 baby gem lettuces, washed and torn

A handful of basil leaves, torn

for the BLT dressing

8 tomatoes

2 garlic cloves, chopped

30ml white wine vinegar, plus a further teaspoon

1 tablespoon sugar

1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped

3 egg yolks, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

150ml olive oil

50ml double cream

for the oven-dried tomatoes

1 x baking tray, lined with foil

16 ripe cherry tomatoes, halved

2 garlic cloves, chopped

4 thyme sprigs, leaves picked

Drizzle of olive oil

Sprinkle of caster sugar

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Start with the oven-dried tomatoes: heat your oven to 110°c / 225°f / gas ¼. Lay the tomatoes on the baking tray and sprinkle over the garlic, thyme, olive oil and caster sugar. Season with salt and pepper and pop in the oven for 90 minutes.

Turning to the dressing: into a mini chopper or blender tip the tomatoes, garlic, 30ml wine vinegar, sugar and chilli. Season with salt and pepper and whizz until smooth. Ideally leave this in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavours develop. Strain this tomato ‘stock’ through a sieve, discarding the remaining pulp. Set aside.

Using an electric handheld whisk, beat together the egg yolks, mustard and teaspoon of wine vinegar. Very slowly add the olive oil, whisking the whole time to emulsify. Whisk in the cream.

When you’re ready to cook the fish, preheat your oven to 200°c /400°f / gas 6.

Dry-fry the bacon in a frying pan until crisp. Cut into small pieces (I use scissors) and set aside.

Lay the fish fillets onto your baking tray and season with salt and pepper. Pop into the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until just cooked.

Meanwhile, arrange the lettuce on serving plates and scatter over the oven-dried tomatoes.

In a saucepan, gently heat the sieved tomato stock together with the egg yolk sauce, whisking the whole time and avoiding boiling.

Flake the cod over the lettuce, sprinkle over the bacon and basil and then drizzle over the sauce – enjoy this very odd combination that works extremely well!!!!

Tip…

The oven-dried tomatoes and the two elements that combine to create the BLT dressing can all be prepared in advance, leaving very little to do just before you want to eat.

Inspired by…

Nathan Outlaw

How easy…

Not difficult but requires quite a lot of time and prepping in advance. Worth it though!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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