Author Archives for Cindy Duffield

Higgidy Party Pie

 

Stuffed with duck, pork, apricots and garden herbs, this is so much more than just a hot water-crust pork pie! Created for celebrations (the original recipe has three pies, stacked to create a wedding pie) this is so gorgeous, it’s worth having a party for in its own right! Luscious, unbelievably tasty on the inside with fabulous crisp pastry on the outside, this pie has totally converted a woman who simply didn’t eat pies, to one whose flicking through the Higgidy cookbook looking for the next one to do! It’s gorgeous; if you’re feeding a crowd, make this the centrepiece!

Serves 12 – 16

What you need…

1 x 20cm spring form cake tin, 10cm deep

300ml water

250g lard

1 teaspoon salt

750g plain flour, plus a little for dusting

1 egg, plus a further 1 for glazing

for the filling

500g pork shoulder, cut into 1cm cubes

400g sausage meat

150g streaky bacon rashers, cut into 5mm strips

1 small bunch thyme, leaves stripped

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons redcurrant jelly

1 egg, beaten

50g fresh breadcrumbs

2 duck breasts, skin removed and meat cut into 5mm strips

200g semi-dried apricots

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

To make the pastry, pour the water into a large saucepan, add the lard and salt and slowly bring to a gentle simmer over a moderate heat. Don’t allow it to boil.

Once the lard has melted, remove from the heat and tip in all the flour. Using an electric handheld whisk, beat the mixture to form a glossy paste. Add the egg and whisk until evenly incorporated. Tip out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a couple of minutes until smooth.

Cut away one third of the dough and lightly roll it into a circle, slightly larger than the cake tin – this will be your lid – cover with cling film and pop into the fridge whilst you do the rest of the pie.

Shape the remaining dough into a rough circle and place in the middle of your tin. Gently work it over the base and up the sides of the tin with your fingers until just peeping over the top. Pop it in the fridge for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 190˚c / 375˚f / gas 5.

Put the pork, sausage meat, bacon, thyme, nutmeg, redcurrant jelly, beaten egg and 1 teaspoon salt into a food processor and whizz until evenly combined.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs into the bottom of pastry case and then put half of the pork mixture on top. Next, add a layer of duck. Season and then add a layer of apricots. Finally, top with the remaining pork mixture.

Brush the top edges of the pie case with beaten egg and place the pastry lid on top. Crimp the edges to seal. Make a 1cm hole in the centre of the pie to allow the steam to escape and decorate your pie, if you fancy.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 160˚c / 310°f/ gas 3 and bake for a further 1½ hours or until the pastry has turned a deep golden brown. Take the pie out and allow it to cool for 15 minutes before removing it from the tin.

It’s so impressive to serve and that first slice draws ‘oooooohs and aaaaahs’ of delight. Then they taste it – yum!

Tip…

This fabulous celebration of a pie can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days so it can be made in advance of any entertaining.

Inspired by…

Camilla Stephens, Higgidy

How easy…

I was daunted when I first looked at recipe but in fact, this kind of pastry is really easy to make and the filling is just a case of a bit of prep and then assembly. And it’s soooooo worth it!!!!

 

 

 

Focaccia Sharing Bread with Rosemary

 

This lovely bread is an ideal accompaniment to garlicky starters like Gambas Pil Pil (already blogged), as part of an Italian-inspired antipasti lunch or simply to dip into olive oil with balsamic vinegar. However you choose to enjoy it, Focaccia is just lovely….and so simply to make, especially if you have a food processor or electric stand mixer.

Serves 6

What you need…

1 x shallow baking tray (26 x 36cms or larger) lightly oiled

500g strong white bread flour

7g fast action dried yeast

10g fine salt

325ml warm water

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for coating and then drizzling

A sprinkle of sea salt

2 – 3 rosemary sprigs, cut to create around 12 little sprigs!

What you do…

If you have a mixer, fit it with the dough hook and then tip into the bowl the flour, yeast, salt, water and the tablespoon of oil. Mix on a low speed for 10 minutes until smooth and silky. If you don’t have a mixer, it’s the same process but by hand – somewhat more tiring and intensive (you can’t just walk away leaving it to do its own thing!)

Shape the dough into a ball and coat with a little olive oil. Pop into a clean bowl (I wash out the one I’ve just used to make the dough), cover with cling film and leave to rise to double its size (45-60 minutes depending on the warmth of the room).

Tip the dough out onto a work surface and press into a rough rectangle. Place on your baking tray and press the dough outwards with your fingers, right into the corners. Leave to rise again, loosely covered (with a plastic bag for instance) for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 250˚c / 480 ˚f / gas 10.

Using your fingertips to poke deep holes across the whole surface, almost to the bottom. Drizzle the tope generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Poke the rosemary sprigs into the holes and then pop into the oven. Bake for 10 minutes and then turn the oven down to 200˚c / 400˚f/ gas 6 for a further 10 minutes.

Leave to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes whilst you enjoy the wonderful rosemary-infused aroma. Tear, share and enjoy…..simply yummy and nothing quite like it!

Inspired by…

River Cottage

How easy…

Very, very easy, especially if you have a mixer! Great to knock up to make a relaxed lunch or supper just a little more special.

 

 

 

Lovely Chicken and Prawn Laksa

 

This is a lovely spicy noodle-based soup….and some! Based on a combination of Chinese and Malay cuisine, it’s rich without being heavy and just bursting with flavour and fragrance. Wonderfully spicy yet fresh, light but rich and substantial without being overfilling – perfect as a really tasty supper or lunch dish. Very yummy indeed – enjoy!

Serves 4

What you need…

for the paste

2 shallots, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic

2 red chillies, deseeded

5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

3 teaspoons fresh coriander leaves and stalks

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 lemongrass stalk, outer layer removed and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

for the laksa

Splash rapeseed oil

1 litre boiling water

2 chicken stockpots

3 chicken breasts

250g raw prawns

400ml coconut milk

200g beansprouts

300g ‘straight to wok’ medium noodles

2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered

1 chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped

2 limes, cut into wedges

What to do…

Make your stock by dissolving the stockpots in a jug of the boiling water – a balloon whisk is perfect for this.

Tip all of your paste ingredients into a food processor and whizz until you have a smooth paste.

Splash your oil into a large frying pan and over a moderate heat, add the paste and cook for 5 minutes until you can see that the oil is separating slightly from the paste and is sizzling.

Pour in the stock and increase the heat until it starts simmering. Add the chicken and cook over a moderate heat for 15 minutes. Add the prawns and noodles and cook for a further 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Add the beansprouts.

Remove the chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks and return to the frying pan. Add in the chilli, mint and coriander. Stir until everything is incorporated evenly.

Serve your lovely chicken and prawn laksa in bowls topped with the egg quarters and a wedge of lime on the side. Fragrant, flavoursome and fabulous! Enjoy!

Chicken & Prawn LAksa Close up w

Tip…

Rather than all that chopping and peeling, I use Cooks’ Ingredients’ frozen chopped shallots and garlic from Waitrose. A lot easier – chillies, ginger and coriander are also available in the range but I think the fresh variety really boost the flavours of the dish.

Inspired by…

MasterChef winner (2010) Dhruv Baker

How easy…

Really easy to cook: the only time involved is the preparation, but once that’s done, it takes just minutes.

Baked Lamb with Rosemary and a Little Aside of Redcurrant & Mint Sauce

What can I tell you? Succulent, full of flavour, just falls off the bone – a real treat – and not just for Easter either – this recipe will be revisited on several spring and early summer Sundays – it is delicious, very moreish and cooks itself, allowing you to do other things! The redcurrant and mint sauce is simply the best and emphasises the lovely flavour of the lamb perfectly. If you haven’t tried this Delia-inspired recipe, give it a go – it’s an absolute winner!

What you need…

1 x 1.8 – 2kg leg of lamb

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves plus 3-4 sprigs

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon rock salt

Black pepper

for the sauce & the gravy

250ml jar redcurrant jelly

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Sea salt and black pepper

275 ml dry white wine

1 x lamb stock cube

A good shake of Bisto lamb gravy granules

Glug of milk/splash of double cream

What to do…

In a small food processor, whizz together the rosemary leaves, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. (Use a pestle and mortar to crush and the salt and rosemary if you don’t have a small food processor).

Spread a large sheet of foil in a roasting tin and place the lamb on it. Stab the fleshy parts of the joint with a skewer. Spread the rosemary mixture all over the upper surface of the lamb and tuck in the sprigs of rosemary.

Bring the edges of the foil up over the lamb, make a pleat in the top and scrunch the ends. This foil parcel should be fairly loose to allow the air to circulate. Bake the lamb for two hours, then open out the foil, baste the joint well with the juices and return it to the oven for a further 30 minutes to brown. (This cooking time should produce the lamb very slightly pink: you can cook for less or more time according to how you like the joint served).

Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining 3 tablespoons of the redcurrant jelly with the vinegar in a small saucepan over a gentle heat. Use a balloon whisk to help dissolve the jelly into the vinegar. Add the chopped mint and some seasoning and pour into a jug – the sauce doesn’t need to be served warm.

When the lamb is cooked, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving. Discard the foil, spoon off the fat and make some gravy with the juices left in the tin: in a saucepan, combine the juices with the white wine and the remaining redcurrant jelly from the jar. When the gravy is hot, crumble in the lamb stock cube to intensify the flavour. To create a lovely consistency, add gravy granules until it looks how you would like it to. Taste. Add milk and/or cream to tone down any slightly acidic flavours and to ensure the gravy becomes rich and silky.

Serving suggestion…

Rosemary-roasted root vegetables, John’s Yorkshire Puddings (both previously blogged) work well with spring greens, peas or broccoli.

Inspired by…

Delia Smith

How easy…

Dead easy: baste it, pop it in the oven and it cooks itself!

 

Pan-Fried Pork Fillet with Prune and Armagnac Cream Sauce

It is only since I have been doing this blog, that I’ve tried the odd pork recipe – seriously, never cooked it and rarely eaten it before now. I have however become a total convert – this dish (and the pulled pork recipe) seal it! This dish is absolutely stunning – unbelievably quick and easy as well as tasting out of this world. The pork is delightful but it is the sauce of Armagnac, prunes and cream that creates the sensation that is this dish. Try it – it won’t be the last time! Simply delish!

Serves 4

What you need…

16 semi-dried prunes

Armagnac

1 650g pork tenderloin fillet, cut into 1 cm slices

Sea salt and black pepper

Knob of butter

150ml double cream

What to do…

The night before you want to enjoy this dish, pop the prunes into a screw-top jar and pour in Armagnac until they are just covered. With a fork, squish the prunes down into the Armagnac. Put the lid on and leave overnight to allow the intermingling flavours to develop.

For the meal, drain the prunes through a sieve, collecting the Armagnac in jug. Chop the prunes into quarters. Set aside.

Place the slices of pork onto a board and use a meat mallet or rolling pin to flatten them out into thin slices. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a frying pan until hot, melt the butter and then add the slices of pork, frying on each side for 1 – 2 minutes or until golden and just cooked through. You will need to do this in batches so have a warmed dish ready for the cooked pork.

Once all the pork is cooked and in the warmed dish, add the Armagnac to the pan and carefully flambé the Armagnac (when I did it, the flames were HUGE so be careful – they last for just a few seconds). Once the flames have dissipated, add the prunes and cook for 2 minutes, mashing them gently with the back of a spoon.

Add the cream, season with salt and pepper and cook for a further minute. Serve the pork slices and pour over the decadent sauce and then…enjoy every morsel. That’s it – so simple and this dish is absolutely terrific – it tastes like you’ve spent hours in the kitchen rather than just a few moments! Really fabulous!

Serving suggestions…

Sauté potatoes go well and we enjoyed ours with roasted cauliflower (a forthcoming blog).

Inspired by…

James Martin

How easy…

Dead easy – you just need to remember to create your drunken prunes the night before!

 

Easter Simnel Cake

The Christmas cake was finished a long time ago so along comes Easter with the opportunity to create this lovely, richly-flavoured, moist fruit cake with its two layers of marzipan: one in the middle – which really adds to the cake’s moistness – and one on the top which is toasted. The marzipan top is decorated with 11 marzipan balls, representing the 11 true disciples of Jesus (minus Judas), with the larger 12th ball in the middle representing Jesus himself. The cake is definitely a celebration and should take pride of place for Easter tea! Really easy to make if you have an electric stand mixer!

Makes a 23cm cake

What you need…

Ideally, an electric stand mixer (I have a Kenwood K-Mix) otherwise a robust wooden spoon and a lot of strength to mix by hand!)

1 x 23cm round spring form cake tin, lightly buttered and lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

for the marzipan

500g ground almonds

250g caster sugar

250g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

2 eggs

½ teaspoon almond essence

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

for the cake

1kg raisins

175g glacé cherries

50g ground almonds

125g currants

300g plain flour

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon mixed spice

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

300g soft margarine (I used Stork)

300g caster sugar

6 eggs

1-2 tablespoons brandy, your choice!

Apricot jam, melted, for glazing

What to do…

First, make the marzipan and I’m going to assume a mixer is to hand – this would be hard work otherwise! Fit the mixer with its dough hook. Tip all the marzipan ingredients into the bowl and mix it together on a slow speed until it comes together into smooth dough. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 140°c / 275° f / gas 1.

Wash and dry the mixer bowl and return it to the machine. Fit the ‘K paddle’ (beater attachment).

Into the bowl, tip the raisins, cherries, almonds and currants into the bowl and mix on a slow speed until all are evenly blended. Add the flour, nutmeg, mixed spice, cinnamon, margarine and sugar and again, mix on a slow speed until all evenly blended. Then drop in one egg at a time, whilst the mixer is still going and mix thoroughly before adding the next one. Finally, add the brandy and mix in.

Cut a little less than half of the marzipan and roll it out to about 1 cm thick on a work surface that has been lightly dusted with icing sugar. Use the base of your cake tin as a template to cut a circle out of the marzipan. Put the scraps with the rest of the marzipan, wrap tightly in cling film and pop in the fridge, ready for use after the cake is cooked and cooled.

Spoon half of the cake mix into your cake tin. Then, lay in the circle of marzipan. Then, top with the rest of the cake mixture. Pop in the oven and bake for 3 hours. Indulge in the fabulous smell that pervades the house!

Leave the cake to cool in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When it’s cold, roll out the rest of the marzipan as above and again cut out a circle the same size as the cake. Glaze the top of the cake with the warmed apricot jam and then lay the circle of marzipan on the top. Use the left over marzipan to create 11 balls of the same size and one bigger one. Brush the bottom of each ball with apricot jam and arrange the 11 balls around the edge of the top of the cake; placing the larger one in the middle. Then, to toast your Easter Simnel cake, either put it under a moderate grill – watch it like a hawk – it will brown quickly, or used a cook’s blowtorch for the job (much more fun!)

Your cake is now ready to take centre stage in your Easter tea celebrations (and, unless there’s a big crowd of you, for several days afterwards!) Moist, rich and a really, really lovely very proper cake! Enjoy!

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

It’s not difficult at all if you have an electric mixer – I wouldn’t want to make by hand!

The history of Simnel cake according to my Google search…

The Simnel cake is associated with Easter today, but was originally made for Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent. Originally Mothering Sunday was the day when the congregations of the daughter churches of a parish went to the mother church, usually an abbey, to give their offerings.

In the 17th century, Mothering Sunday became the day when girls and boys in service were allowed a day off to go and visit their mothers. This was their one and only holiday. The girls would bake their mothers a Simnel cake as a gift.

Simnel cakes have been baked since the middle ages and it is believed that the word Simnel comes from the Latin ‘Simila,’ which meant very fine flour made from wheat. Made properly, the cake would keep for a few weeks, thus the baking of a Simnel cake for Mothering Sunday was not only a gift from a girl to her mother, but also a test of the girl’s cooking skills. The cake would not be eaten until Easter Sunday, and the whole family would be anxious to see if the cake was still moist.

With the demise of service after the First World War, the Simnel cake began to be treated as an Easter cake in its own right. The cake is decorated with eleven marzipan balls, representing Jesus’ disciples minus Judas the traitor.

 

Easter Hot Cross Buns

These are Mary’s hot cross buns and they ARE gorgeous – really fruity and beautifully spiced with cinnamon and mixed spice. They look fab as well with the golden syrup glaze. I would recommend them but only if you’re having a relaxing day at home, enabling you the luxury of lots to time to revisit the kitchen several times. They’re not difficult, just take some time but very lovely and worth the time.

Makes 12 large buns or 18 medium-sized

What you need…

1 x electric mixer fitted with a dough hook!!!!

2 x baking sheets, lined with Bake O Glide/ baking paper

1 x piping bag fitted with a fine 3mm nozzle (for the crosses)

40g butter

300ml milk

500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting

75g caster sugar

2 teaspoons mixed spice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Grated zest of 1 lemon

10g salt

10g fast-action dried yeast

1 egg, beaten

200g sultanas

50g chopped candied peel

Olive oil for greasing

for the topping

75g plain flour

100ml water

2 tablespoons golden syrup

What to do…

In separate saucepans, gently melt the butter and also warm the milk, just to tepid.

Meanwhile, into your mixer, chuck the flour, sugar, spices, lemon zest, salt and yeast. Put the mixer onto a slow speed and blend the ingredients together.

Add the melted butter, half the warm milk and the egg and mix until all the ingredients are blended. Add a little milk at a time now and keep checking the blend – the dough needs to come together and be on the wet side, rather than dry. You might not need all the milk. I reckon I had about 50mls that was not required.

Once you’re happy with the dough, add in the sultanas and candied peel and let the mixer do its thing on a low speed for 10 minutes, at which point the dough will be silky and elastic. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and give it a couple of kneads, just to get it into a ball shape.

Smear olive oil all around the inside of a nice roomy bowl, pop in your dough, cover with cling film and then leave it somewhere warm for 1½ hours or until doubled in size. (I put mine underneath the kitchen radiator).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Return to the bowl, re-cover with cling film and leave in your chosen warm place for a further hour.

Turn the dough out again onto your floured surface and divide into 12 or 18 equal parts, depending on whether you want large or medium-sized buns. Shape each 1 into a ball and pop them onto the baking sheets, flattening them slightly.

Slip the baking sheets into a large polythene bag (I used large shopping bags) making sure that the bag doesn’t touch the buns – they’ll stick! Leave for a further hour until the buns have doubled in size.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°c / 425°f / gas 7.

To make the crosses, mix together the water and plain flour to make a paste; then spoon into the piping bag.

When the buns have risen, remove from the bags and pipe a cross on top of each one. Pop the buns in the oven bake for 15 – 20 minutes until pale golden brown (I overdid mine a bit!)

Finally, melt the golden syrup in a pan and, whilst the buns are still warm, brush the top of each one to give them a lovely – sticky – shine. Cool on a wire rack and then dig in to your Easter hot cross buns – they are lovely and worth the return trips to the kitchen!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

They are not difficult at all, particularly if you have an electric mixer. But they do tie you to the house for quite a while so your schedule needs to be such that you can pop back into the kitchen to complete the 3 stages. Absolutely worth it if you have the time.

Gambas Pil Pil

 

This always feels like a little taste of the Mediterranean as I remember the first time we had this dish was on holiday. So for me, Gambas Pil Pil brings with it warm nights and gentle breezes, long relaxed suppers watching the sun go down before meandering back to our villa. A fabulous starter, it arrives sizzling with the aroma of garlic filling the air. The plump, garlicky prawns are fabulous and the residual oil is just as enjoyable, mopped up with good, chunky bread (Focaccia in this case). Lovely, simple: enjoy!

Serves 4-6 as a starter or light lunch (We like rather large portions, so maybe bear that in mind when looking at my prawn quantities!)

What you need…

4 – 6 x ovenproof bowls to cook and serve

900g giant prawns, peeled

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 hot chillis, deseeded and sliced

Sea salt to season

Olive oil

What to do…

Divide the prawns between your dishes. Likewise, divide up the garlic and chilli evenly. Season with salt and then pour over olive oil so that it just covers the top of the prawns. Give them a good mix, cover with cling film and then pop in the fridge until ready to cook. (If possible, I try to do this preparation 24 hours in advance so that the flavours really gather, but equally, we have had them after just a couple of hours ‘marinating’.

Preheat the oven to 240°c / 475° / gas 9.

Remove the cling film and put your bowls on a baking tray and then into the oven for 5 – 10 minutes, until they are pink and sizzling.

Carefully remove from the oven and serve. The most simple of starters or lunches and really quite delectable. Dunking bread is an absolute must!

Serving suggestion…

Good bread to mop up the garlic infused hot oil.

Tip…

I used Cooks’ Ingredients’ frozen chopped garlic and chilli, saving on that bit of prep – love ‘em!

Inspired by…

Not sure – the recipe is pretty generic but this particular version, which we have been enjoying for years, was pulled from a magazine…a very long time ago!

How easy…

Very, very easy!

Heavenly Lemon Torte

 

This heavenly dessert is right up my street: ridiculously easy, tastes amazing and…doesn’t even require any cooking! Picture if you will a spoonful: the light and fluffy cream filling excites your taste buds with the gentle tanginess of lemon and then, the taste of chocolate follows through – absolutely delightful! The only other thing it needs is another spoonful and then another….Give it a go!

Serves 10 – 12 depending on how generously you cut your slices!

What you need…

for the base

1 x 20cm round spring form baking tin, lightly buttered and lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

300g dark chocolate digestive biscuits

50g butter, melted

2 tablespoons double cream

for the filling

300ml double cream

265g condensed milk (2/3 of a standard 397g tin)

Lemon juice from 2 large or 3 small lemons

Zest of 1 large lemon

What to do…

Roughly break up your chocolate digestives, shove them in the food processor and whizz until they are crumbs. Remove the processor blade and then, using a spatula, mix in the melted butter and cream.

Press evenly into the bottom of your baking tin. Pop into the fridge whilst you prepare the filling.

Using a handheld electric whisk, whip the cream until it’s quite stiff and then, using a large balloon whisk, gently fold in the condensed milk, lemon juice and zest. Tip the lot onto the chocolate digestive base and return to the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour before serving. That’s it!!!

To serve, remove from the tin (I normally leave my puds on the base part of the spring form tin for fear of imminent collapse if it was removed) and gently peel away the Bake O Glide from the sides. Decorate with a little peeled lemon rind if you like and then just cut yourself your first – but most certainly not your last – slice of heavenly lemon torte – just yummy!

Inspired by…

The filling came from a Tim Siadatan recipe, but the base is attributed to Rachel Allen.

How easy…

It’s just a bit of mucking about really! And no cooking!

 

 

 

 

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