Author Archives for Cindy Duffield

Epic Hot Chocolate

I saw Jamie do this on television and was truly inspired – it tastes absolutely incredible – like the hot chocolate you hear about in the very best fairy tales! The recipe is for a large jar of the mix – I have no idea how many glorious mugs it will make, but it’s so easy to make, you can simply and quickly top it up if it’s running low, something that I think may happen quite regularly!

What you need for the mix…

1 x preserving/Kilner clip top glass jar

2 tablespoons Horlicks

2 tablespoons cornflour

3 tablespoons icing sugar

4 tablespoons quality cocoa

100g 70% dark chocolate, finely grated

1 pinch cinnamon

for two mugs…

1 pint milk or Oatly if you’re keeping your dairy intake low

What to do…

Pour milk into a large saucepan and bring almost to the boil on a medium heat.

Meanwhile, take a large jar and chuck in all the chocolate mix ingredients, clip on the lid and give the mix a really good shake – that’s it job done! For two gloriously, silky rich mugs of hot chocolate, tip 4 heaped tablespoons of the mix into the hot milk and use a balloon whisk and incorporate all the ingredients. Bring your epic hot chocolate gently to the boil and let it bubble for a couple of minutes, whisking all the time – it will get naughtily gloopy in a really, really good way.

Pour into two mugs, sit back with your feet up and enjoy – a few cookies on the side wouldn’t go amiss (these ones are Cranberry and White Chocolate – will post recipe in a couple of days).

Alternative serving suggestions…

This hot chocolate is excellent for the purpose of dunking cookies!

It is VERY rich, silky and thick so another lovely option is to serve your epic hot chocolate in little espresso cups

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver

How Easy…

Insanely

 

 

Light and Zesty Lemon Tart

A really light, creamy yet zesty, fresh version of this classic dessert, this lemon tart is quite simply, delightful. Seconds all round, please.

Serves 6

What you need…

1 x 23cm/9in shallow tart tin, with a removable base

1 x flat baking sheet

for the pastry

175g flour

Pinch of salt

100g butter, straight from the fridge

25g caster sugar

1 egg, separated: yolk in one cup and white in another

2 dessertspoons water

for the filling

3 eggs

125g granulated sugar

Juice and grated zest of 2 lemons

100ml double cream

What to do…

Grease your tart tin.

Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub into the flour until the mixture is like crumbs. Add the sugar and gently mix in with a spatula. Beat the egg yolk and then tip into the mixture, stirring until the mixture sticks together. At this point add the water, one teaspoon at a time until the mixture comes together – you may not need the whole 2 dessertspoons.

Cover your working surface with cling film and then flour lightly. Roll out your pastry on the cling film until about 5mm thick, creating a circle as best you can. Cover with another piece of cling film and then slide a flat baking sheet underneath the whole lot to lift it and pop in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°c / 375°f / gas 5.

Remove pastry from fridge and, keeping the pastry between the two pieces of cling film, gently roll it out until it’s about 3mm thick and large enough to line the bottom and sides of the prepared tart tin.

Remove the top piece of cling film and gently place the pastry upside down (cling film facing up) into the tin. Gently press into the edges and using your thumb, break off the pastry of the top edge of the tin to give a neat finish. Remove the cling film and pop the pastry into the freezer for 10 minutes.

The pasty needs to be blind-baked now so line it roughly with parchment paper, making sure the sides are also covered with the paper. Chuck in a load of baking beans (or dried pulses which can be used many times over) and blind-bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry feels dry.

Remove the paper and beans. Lightly beat your egg white and use it to brush over the pastry. Pop the pastry back in the oven for two minutes.

Take out of the oven and put to one side until you are ready to make your filling (this could be immediately, later on in the day or even the next day).

Set the oven to 120°c / 250°f / gas ½.

In a food processor, pop your eggs and sugar and whizz for about 8 minutes, until the mixture is pale and creamy. Add the lemon juice and zest and process for a further 5 minutes. Pour in the cream and whizz for another 5 minutes.

Pour into the pastry case and pop it straight in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes or until the filling has just set in the centre.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before taking the tart out of its tin and transferring to a pretty plate or cake stand. When it’s completely cool, dredge icing sugar over the top. Slice and serve your light and zesty lemon tart – it’s fresh and zingy, light and frankly, delightful!

Serving suggestion…

A little splash of double cream works wonderfully and this is a great dessert to serve with a ‘sticky’ dessert wine.

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Well, at the time of first making this, I had never made my own pastry but I nervously followed that element of the recipe to the letter and ….it was too ‘short’. The second time, I adapted it and added more water and it was absolutely delightful. The lemon filling is quite heavenly and a dead easy – just a case of processing.

I do love this recipe, because the ‘tricky’ bit, i.e. the pastry, can be done in advance and the filling is dead easy.

Steak au Poivre

A classic I know but, oh how wonderful and totally indulgent – a real treat. I don’t eat steak much and have a growing concern about the amount of hormones pumped into livestock, so when we do occasionally have fillet (2 or 3 times a year, I feel the need to stress) we bypass the supermarket and visit butchers whose meat we know to be as happy and healthy as possible. The sensation as this fabulous meat alights your tongue – ahhh, worth a celebration all by itself!

Serves 4

What you need…

4 gorgeous fillet steaks, about 4cms thick

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

Splash of olive oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

Beef stock made from 1 stockpot (I use Knorr) dissolved into 400ml boiling water

1 tablespoon brandy/cognac

150ml soured cream

Salt for seasoning

What to do…

Prepare your steaks waaaaaay ahead of time if you want to optimise the flavours and textures. Start by crushing your peppercorns. You can use a pestle and mortar to do this or put them between 2 A4-sized pieces of cling film (on a board) and bash them with either a rolling pin or meat tenderiser).

Fillet doesn’t need tenderising. Instead, put a teaspoon of olive oil onto one side of each steak, spreading it evening over and then, using the heel of your hand, massage the steak – it needs no more than this. Then sprinkle over the crushed peppercorns, pressing them into the meat, saving just 2 teaspoons for use in the sauce. Flip the steaks over and repeat the process on the other side. Cover the steaks with cling film and set aside for several hours.

When you are ready to cook the steaks, get the sauce in order! Using a medium-sized saucepan, pour in your oil and add the shallots and garlic. Cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes until they begin to brown. Add the beef stock and saved peppercorns. Add the brandy/cognac and continue simmering until the sauce is reduced by half – 4 – 5 minutes.

Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes. Then, gradually add the soured cream, stirring continuously – if you add too much, too fast it will curdle so take your time. Once it’s all in, check the taste and season with salt; then put the sauce back on a low heat, whilst you cook the steaks.

For the steaks, take a heavy frying pan and pop it onto a very high heat. Dry fry them (remember, you’ve already rubbed oil into them) quickly for about 1 minute on each side, then lower the heat and cook them how you want them – rare, medium rare, well done etc. Lots of recipes quote timings on this but I’ve found that with steaks this thick, it’s easier to take a sharp knife and cut into the middle of the steaks whilst they are in the frying pan and just check them out!

When they are about there, spoon any cooking juices into the sauce and then serve these mouthwatering steaks immediately with their delicious sauce.

Serving Suggestion…

We like Steak au Poivre with mushrooms that have been cleaned and sliced and then fried in a combination of butter, truffle oil and salt. Potato Dauphinoise works spectacularly well with the peppercorn sauce and the wilted spinach is the token healthy green on the plate! Just yum, yum, yum!

Inspired by…

Well, Delia is partly responsible, as is saveur.com, the online version of the New York Times and my take on all of that…but also our local butcher, who explained to me how to treat the fillet steak with respect: massage only!

How easy…

It’s really very easy. The key is in having the time to do it in a relaxed fashion, which lets face it, is the only way – this meat is expensive and deserves time and respect to properly enjoy the well-earned results. Just find an excuse to indulge!

 

 

Scrumptious Seafood Pasta

Seafood with loadsa garlic in a rich tomatoey sauce with a distinctive fishy edge provided by lovely anchovies – a really wonderful autumn treat

Serves 4

What you need…

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon red chilli, chopped

A handful basil, shredded

3-4 anchovies

4 tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 big glass white wine

Salt and black pepper

150-200g salmon fillet, cut into 2cm squares

A handful of each of the following cooked seafood (scallops, clams, prawns, squid, mussels)

180g raw prawns

Pasta shapes of your choice

What to do…

In a large saucepan, heat salted water to boiling point (for the pasta, in a little while).

In another saucepan, gently heat the oil with the garlic, chilli and anchovies and bring slowly to the boil, mashing up the anchovies as they heat up. Turn down to a low heat and add the tomatoes. When softened, season and then tip in the white wine, bring to the boil and simmer to cook off the alcohol.

At this point, pop your pasta into the boiling water – I use dried gluten-free (lighter on the digestive system) – it normally takes about 12 minutes to cook through.

Add the salmon fillet to your herbs and tomatoes and when cooked, chuck in the seafood and raw prawns. Cook on a gentle heat until the raw prawns have turned pink, the seafood is warm and, in the other pan, the pasta is cooked. Throw in the basil, stirring into the sauce so it’s evenly dispersed.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Mix the whole lot together and add more seasoning if necessary. Serve your lovely, garlicky-fragrant comfort scrumptious seafood pasta straight way and enjoy. It’s not a dish to eat quietly – a noisy family or slightly riotous friends are ideal.

Tip…

The quantities of seafood and salmon are vague because a lot has to do with personal taste – you may prefer more fish and less seafood or vice versa. Alternatively, you may not like mussels (my husband doesn’t) so the quantity of those needs to be reduced. Basically, pop in what you’re going to love eating!

I keep a selection of frozen chopped herbs in my freezer – Cooks Ingredients from Waitrose – makes cooking soooo easy: a shake of fresh herbs from the foil bag rather than teaspoons of this and that! In this recipe, the garlic, chilli and basil all come from those lovely foil bags!

Inspired by…

I kinda made this one up, but can promise you that it’s lovely.

How easy…

Simples!

Breakfast Boudins

Thank you Sue K. for sharing this recipe that appeared on the ‘buzzfeedtasty’ page on Facebook. These little breakfast lovelies are such treats and just a bit different. They were certainly a lovely start to our Sunday.

Makes 6

What you need…

Muffin tin, greased

Cookie cutter

3 slices bread

3 teaspoons Parmesan or Cheddar cheese, grated

6 rashers back bacon

6 eggs

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

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

Choose a cookie cutter that is the same size as the bottom of your muffin tin holes and cut six circles from your bread slices, nestling them snugly into the bottom of six of the holes.

Sprinkle a teaspoon of cheese into each one.

Dry-fry the bacon so that it’s only just cooked and remove from the pan, setting aside until it’s cool enough to handle. Wrap each rasher around the edge of each muffin hole and then break an egg into each one.

Season with salt and pepper and pop in the oven for 15 minutes.

Transfer your breakfast boudins to warm plates and take to your kitchen table, already laden with knives and forks, freshly squeezed orange juice, steaming coffee and the weekend newspapers. Bliss!

Inspired by…

www.facebook.com/buzzfeedtasty

How Easy…

Really easy – great for whipping up on a Saturday or Sunday morning whilst the coffee brews

Asparagus Tart with Brie and Capers Dressing

This is a lovely tart, ideal for sharing with friends as a starter or as a light but delicious lunch

Serves 4 – 6

What you need…

1 baking sheet

500g ready-made puff pastry

1 egg, beaten

500g asparagus

250g Brie, sliced

Sea salt and black pepper

for the dressing

2 tablespoons capers

2 tablespoons olive oil

A squeeze fresh lemon juice

What to do…

Roll out the pastry to a large rectangle, around 23cm x 30cm. Using a knife, score another rectangle 2.5cm inside the edge, without cutting right through the pastry. Brush the 2.5cm ‘frame’ with the beaten egg and place on a baking sheet. Chill for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

Trim the asparagus to fit across the inside of the frame. Blanch for 3 minutes in boiling, salted water then, drain in a colander and ‘refresh’ with cold water. Set aside the asparagus in the colander.

Bake the pastry in the oven until lightly browned. Remove and then discard the top couple of layers of the inner (scored) rectangle to prevent having a ‘soggy bottom’ underneath the asparagus.

Arrange the asparagus inside the pastry frame, top with the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is gorgeously browned and the cheese has melted.

Mix together the dressing and drizzle over the tart.

That’s it – serve your asparagus tart with brie and capers dressing straight away and enjoy. A glass of crisp, dry white wine wouldn’t go amiss!

A Quick Aside…

The image shows the tart made for just two people, using half the ingredients – a lovely little mid-afternoon snack!

Inspired By…

Woman and Home magazine (torn out several years ago!)

How Easy…

Really very easy, especially as it looks and tastes so yummy!

 

Monkfish Roasted with Parma Ham and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

A lovely dish that is easy to make, very easy on the eye and great tasting.

Serves 4

What you need…

1 small jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil

2 large handfuls of fresh basil

Olive oil

16-20 slices of Parma ham

4 x 200g/7oz monkfish tail fillets, trimmed

Sea salt and black pepper

Balsamic vinegar and rocket (optional, to serve)

What to do…

Pre-heat oven to 200c/400f/gas 6. Place sun-dried tomatoes and half their flavoursome preserving oil in a food processor with all the basil and blend until smooth. While blending, add the remaining preserving oil to the paste until it’s nice and spreadable.

Take four A4-sized pieces of greaseproof paper. Rub some olive oil over each piece and lay about 4 slices of Parma ham snugly next to each other, on each piece of paper. Divide your paste into 4, smearing each quarter evenly over the ham. Then, place your monkfish fillets at one end, season, and, using the greaseproof paper as an aid to wrap the monkfish firmly in the Parma ham, fold and roll up. Slide the Parma ham-wrapped monkfish off the greaseproof paper onto an oiled baking tray (with sides as liquid will escape during cooking and make a right mess of the oven – been there, done that!). Roast for 15-20 minutes.

To serve your monkfish roasted with Parma ham and sun-dried tomatoes, either slice up or serve each portion whole, ideally with really buttery mashed potato. Garnish with drizzled balsamic vinegar over the fish and scattered rocket over the whole plate.

It’s quick, gorgeous and looks like it’s taken hours of slaving. Ideal for a dinner party as it can be prepared in advance, kept covered and refrigerated until you are ready to pop it in the oven; or for a family supper when you fancy something a little different.

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver

How Easy…

Very easy and hardly any clearing up!

Warm Summer Fruits Pudding with Almonds

This is a proper winter-warming pudding, even though the first ingredient is summer fruits! It’s the perfect conclusion to a long, lingering Sunday Lunch and is immensely satisfying – only the Sunday papers and a doze needs follow…

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

1 x pretty (because its for a pud) oven-proof dish, greased (mine is 20cms diameter and 10cms deep)

500g summer fruits (I buy frozen and let them defrost overnight)

175g caster sugar, plus ½ tablespoon

175g butter, room temperature

175g ground almonds

85g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

2 pears, unpeeled, cored and sliced

What to do…

Pre-heat oven to 170°c / 325°f /gas 3

Tip your defrosted fruit into the ovenproof bowl and stir in the ½ tablespoon of caster sugar.

Tip all the other ingredients except the pears into a food processor and process until thoroughly blended. Pour the mixture over the fruit and smooth over. Arrange the slices of pear on the top, ideally in an overlapping fan.

Bake in the oven for 2 hours!

Check that it is cooked all the way through by poking in a kebab stick – it should come out dry.

Serve straight away, either with warm custard or cold double cream – either way this warm summer fruits pudding with almonds is absolutely delicious.

Tip…

Assemble the fruits in the bowl, cover and pop in the fridge, prepare the pears, cover and pop in the fridge; and then chuck the rest of the ingredients into the processor. You can now leave everything until you’re ready to put them all in the oven – perfect if you’re entertaining. It takes less than five minutes to complete the preparation when you are ready.

Inspired by…

Can’t remember where I plucked this recipe from but I’ve been doing it for years!

How Easy…

Ridiculously! Remember though – 2 hours cooking time (the cooking smell is heavenly!)

 

Haggis with Scallops, Caramelised Pear and Beurre Blanc Sauce

Yes, I know it sounds revolting and I was met with considerable apprehension when I announced that I was serving this up. But after the first tentative mouthful, it was proclaimed as really tasty and a culinary success! Haggis, let’s face it, gets bad PR but honestly, this is a really rich, lovely winter dish. Written up here as a starter, it can also be served as a main course, adding green vegetables (steamed leek and cabbage) and potato (Dauphinoise would work well). So, give it a go and be happily surprised!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x 450g good quality Haggis (I used Simon Howie’s Haggis Company).

Splash of olive oil

12 good sized scallops, hand-dived if you can spare the pennies

Sea salt and black pepper

for the beurre blanc sauce

2 shallots, finely chopped

20ml white wine vinegar

40ml white wine

40ml water

75g butter, cut into small chunks

Sea salt and black pepper

for the caramelised pears

50g butter

2 tablespoons soft dark brown sugar

3 pears, unpeeled, cored and chopped into 1 cm pieces

What to do…

To cook your haggis, follow the instructions that it comes with. In my case, it was simply to wrap the haggis, skin and clips intact, in foil and pop in a saucepan of water, bringing it to the boil before gently simmering it for 45 minutes.

For the sauce, pop the shallots, vinegar, white wine and water into a saucepan and cook on a moderate heat until the liquid is halved. Remove from the heat and add the butter chunks one at a time, using a balloon whisk to ensure that each chunk is fully blended in before adding the next. Once it is all added, season with salt and pepper and return to the hob, keeping it warm on a low heat.

For the caramelised pears, heat the butter and sugar in a small saucepan on a moderate heat until they are both melted, stirring regularly. Tip in the chopped pears and gently stir them in, ensuring they are all evenly coated with butter. Reduce the heat and just leave them in the pan for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. They will finish up golden and delicious.

Finally, about five minutes before you are ready to serve, splash a little oil in a frying pan and when it’s hot, chuck in your scallops. Fry them for two minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Season.

To serve your haggis with scallops, caramelised pear and beurre blanc sauce, simply provide each person with one generous slice of haggis in the centre of the plate, topping it with the seared scallops, scatter the pears around the side and drizzle the beurre blanc over the pears.

The vinegar and wine in the beurre blanc sauce provide a gently, slightly sharp contrast to the richness of the haggis and the sweetness of the pear provides a perfect foil to the meat’s depth of flavour. It really works beautifully – simply delicious!

Inspired by…

Loch Fyne Restaurants currently have a version of this on their menus. I hope my interpretation does it justice!

How Easy…

Not difficult but loads of pots and pans, especially if it’s being served with accompaniments for a main course.

Whilst the haggis is cooking, you have plenty of time to make the beurre blanc and then the caramelised pears, just keeping both of them warm until you are ready to serve.

Summer Fruits Smoothie with Chia Seeds

If you are looking for a pick-me-up to start your day with real zest and a blast of goodness, I can whole-heartedly recommend this smoothie. Stuffed full of fabulously nourishing ingredients, it also tastes deceptively delicious!

Serves 2

What you need…

200g frozen summer fruits, defrosted

250g Alpro soya ‘yogurt’, vanilla flavour

1dessertspoon Chia seeds

200ml water

2 teaspoons Manuka honey

What to do…

To make your summer fruits smoothie with Chia seeds, simply chuck the lot in your blender and blend until smooth.

Pour into a couple of glasses and look smugly at one another as you take in all this goodness whilst drinking something imitating a delectable dessert!

Tip…

You can swap my choice of soya yogurt for your own personal favourite – I just find that cutting down on dairy works better for me.

What are Chia seeds…?

For the uninitiated, they’re promoted as a super food. . They contain the highest levels of omega 3 and essential amino acids found in the plant kingdom. They are also high in fibre, calcium, ion, selenium and zinc. They are also rich in antioxidants and protein – what’s not to like?!

Inspired by…

Madeleine Shaw, ‘Get the Glow’

How Easy…

Tip in the blender, put the lid on and push the button!