Author Archives for Cindy Duffield

Scrummy Courgette Salad

I first tried this recipe as a side salad to go with barbecued meats. It’s so simple, I did wonder if it might be just a tad….boring….but I was delightfully surprised – it is a lovely, fresh salad with the added joy provided by the crunch of the pine nuts. Easy, quick, different and delicious!

Serves 1

What you need…

1 large courgette, trimmed

Sea salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons good quality balsamic vinegar

Handful of pine nuts

What to do…

Grate the courgette into your serving bowl. Season liberally with salt and pepper and stir through.

Pop the pine nuts into a small, dry saucepan and dry fry for just a couple of minutes.

Mix together the oil and vinegar.

Mix the dressing into the courgette and tip over the pine nuts. Serve – so simple but absolutely delicious!

Inspired by…

The Hemsley Sisters

How easy…

You could almost do this in your sleep!

Gin and Tonic Drizzle Cake

There’s a tradition in this house that at 6pm on a Friday evening, John and I will convene at our bar (!) for a G&T and review of the week’s activities. Call it an excuse if you like but it is our official and very enjoyable end to the week and beginning of the weekend. Anyway, this week an unfortunately planned 7.30pm appointment that involved driving put paid to this long-standing custom but all was not lost – my friend, Dawn had alerted me to a recipe for a G&T cake and coincidentally, I found the basis for this one on Friday morning. Clearly, a ‘meant to be’ recipe, tried, tasted and thoroughly enjoyed as a preamble to the delayed drinkie session. The freshness of the lime works really well with the gentle background flavour of gin. It’s dead easy to knock up and a great alternative adult version to a traditional drizzle cake – give it a bash – cheers!

Serves 8

What you need…

1 x 900g loaf tin, lightly buttered and lined with parchment paper

200g unsalted butter, cubed

200g caster sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

200g self-raising flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

Zest of 1 large lime, finely grated

75ml gin

for the syrupy topping

125g caster sugar

125ml tonic water

3½ tablespoons gin

Juice of 1 large lime

25g granulated sugar

What to do…

Preheat oven to 180c / 350 F / gas 4.

In your food processor, combine the butter and caster sugar to create a pale, light, fluffy mixture. Whilst still whizzing, gradually tip in the egg. When fully incorporated, tip in the flour, baking powder and lime zest. Whizz again until evenly incorporated. Pour in the gin and whizz again to evenly disperse.

Tip the mixture into your loaf tin and pop into the oven to bake for 55 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean and the sponge is a lovely golden brown.

Whilst the cake is cooking, make the syrupy topping. Gently heat the caster sugar and tonic water in a small pan, stirring regularly, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lime juice and gin, stir and set aside to cool.

Once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and pop tin on a cooling rack and leave from 10-15 minutes until the cake is warm rather than hot.

Prick over the top of the cake with a skewer.

Mix together the cooled syrup with the remaining granulated sugar – you don’t want this to dissolve – the crunch of this sugar on the top of the cake is part of the lusciousness of it!

Pour the syrup over the top of the cake whilst it is still in its tin. It will look like there’s too much but if you pour slowly, it will all ‘fit’. Walk away and decide where you are going to enjoy your first slice of just-warm G&T cake.

Come back 10-15 minutes later and the lemon drizzle topping will have largely disappeared – it’s gone into the cake (with the help of your skewering) to ensure that it is wonderfully moist throughout.

When it’s cool rather than cold, loosen the sides away from the tin and lift out, using the paper. Dispense with the parchment paper and serve your delicious Gin and Tonic Drizzle Cake in lovely fat slices! Raise a forkful and enjoy – cheers!

Inspired by…

My friend, Dawn, from whom both of her recipe suggestions seem to have been alcohol-based…..and then Good Housekeeping magazine (but I did completely change the syrupy element)

How easy…

As ever with these delicious drizzle cakes, delightfully effortless!

 

Zingy, Fresh Asian-Inspired Salad with Asparagus and Crayfish

Salad days are here – yippppeee and lordy, lordy, lordy, this salad is spectacular: it’s zingy and fresh and its fabulous tastes and textures demand your attention. Eat it by itself or serve with fish: terikayi tuna is ideal but also, try this salad on the side of a lovely roasted salmon fillet – maybe with a wedge of lime on the side. I’ve changed the original recipe by adding a few extra ingredients, most notably the crayfish tails (they were on offer) but equally you could add prawns, smoked salmon or even hot, seared scallops. Anyway, it’s just lovely! I’ve never understood why people think salad is boring – this one will knock your socks off – give it a go!

Serves 2 (this is based on the quantities used to make up the marinade – if you’re creating salad for more people, just increase the quantities accordingly).

What you need…

for the salad

A selection of salad leaves: handfuls each of red chicory, rocket, spinach and baby gem work well but really, it’s whatever takes your fancy and is in the fridge

5cm chunk of cucumber, peeled and chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

Handful of mint leaves, torn

Handful of coriander, chopped

250g asparagus, trimmed

125g crayfish tails or prawns (optional)

for the salad dressing

1 lime, juice only

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 dessertspoon fresh ginger, grated

1 tablespoon palm sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce (or Tamari if you would prefer gluten-free)

1 red bird eye chilli, finely chopped

1 tablespoon mint leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon coriander leaves, chopped

What to do…

Pop the asparagus into boiling, water and cook for 2 minutes until al dente. Drain, refresh with cold water and drain again. Set aside to cool.

Put all your salad dressing ingredients into a screw-topped jar, tighten the lid and shake vigorously until mixed thoroughly together.

When you’re ready to eat, take a large pretty bowl, chuck in your cucumber, tomatoes, all your salad leaves, herbs, asparagus and crayfish tails . Tip over the dressing and mix together. That’s it! Serve and enjoy this absolutely wonderful salad with a lovely crisp dry white wine. And relax….

Tip…

If you’re not too sure about the kick of the chilli, use just half, rather than a whole one

Inspired by…

Watching James Martin and Mary Berry, separately, and then doing my own thing.

How easy…

Well, it’s salad so it’s not hard is it?!

 

Fantasy Cake

You know how the first sunshine of summer works – you sit outside in April or May after months and months of cold, grey, wet winter (and spring) days and you feel those first wonderfully warm rays sink into your bones – all is well with the world. Well, making and eating this cake is a similar experience: it’s best enjoyed warm – the sponge is moist and the deliciously gooey, sweet strawberries deliver summer direct to all of your senses – one of my favourite recipes from Lisa Faulkner’s book, ‘Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter’. Just lovely!

What you need…

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

175g unsalted butter, softened

150g caster sugar

150g self-raising flour

2 eggs

3 tablespoons milk

100g ground almonds

1 teaspoon almond essence

400g strawberries, hulled and halved

Icing sugar for dusting

What to do…

Preheat oven to 160°c / 325°f, gas 3.

Using a food processor, whizz together all the ingredients except the strawberries and icing sugar.

Stir in the fruit, reserving a handful for decorating.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and put the remaining handful of fruit on top of the cake.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 1-1¼ hours. To test if it is cooked, pierce the cake with a skewer – if it is clean when you pull it out, the cake is cooked. If not, pop it back in for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Turn the cake out of the tin onto a wire rack to cool and then dust with icing sugar. It’s most gorgeous served just as its turning from warm to room temperature, ideally outside enjoying early summer sunshine.

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Really easy and it comes with a sense of well-being!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiramisu

Delicious, decadent, rich and boozy, this Italian coffee and chocolate-based ‘trifle’ is Connagh’s absolute favourite dessert. It is totally indulgent and you know without any doubt that you are being spectacularly naughty when that first spoonful goes down. It is not unusual in this house for those indulging to enjoy second and third portions. Utterly divine – life would be incomplete without this dessert taking centre stage on our table on a regular basis – loosen your waistband and give it a go!

Serves Connagh on his own or 12 generous portions

What you need…

1 x pretty trifle bowl

6 egg yolks

150g caster sugar

1000g mascarpone cheese

170ml Kahlua or coffee liqueur

400 ml cold, strong coffee

28 (up to) boudoir biscuits (sponge fingers)

50g plain chocolate, finely grated

What to do…

Place the egg yolks in a bowl with the caster sugar and beat together until pale and thickened, using an electric handheld whisk. Add the mascarpone and whisk slowly until it is evenly incorporated. Pour in 1 tablespoon of the coffee liqueur and whisk gently to combine.

Mix the coffee with the remaining coffee liqueur in a shallow dish. Dip each of the sponge fingers into the coffee and liqueur liquid and arrange in your serving bowl to cover the bottom. Gently plop over one third of the mascarpone mixture to cover the sponge fingers and then sprinkle on a layer of grated chocolate. Repeat these layers two further times, ending up with the sprinkled chocolate on the top. I use less chocolate on the top, preferring a lighter coverage for a prettier finish.

Cover your tiramisu with cling film and pop in the fridge for at least 2 hours but 24 hours if possible to let the flavours develop into their optimum lusciousness.

To serve, take your tiramisu out of the fridge about an hour before you want to indulge – fabulous!

Tiramisu 2 w

Tips…

The number of boudoir biscuits isn’t set in stone and depends on the size and shape of your trifle bowl.

If you have a wide, shallow bowl, it may only be possible to create 2 layers rather than the 3 I’ve done here – it doesn’t make any difference – it will still be fab.

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

Simple and also, relaxing to assemble.

Chicken Breasts Duxelle with Whisky and Mustard Cream Sauce

Ooooh, this was such a surprise – the photograph does not do this dish justice – it is absolutely scrumptious. The duxelles provide a rich depth of flavour that lifts the humble chicken breast to a thing of utter deliciousness and the whisky and mustard cream sauce – simply sublime – we could have easily licked the dish clean were it not for our impeccable manners – try this one – we will be having it again and again. Easy, cheap and so, so special. Yummy doesn’t cover it!

Serves 4

What you need…

Cocktail sticks!

Small baking dish, lightly buttered

4 large boneless chicken breasts, skinned

1 tablespoon rapeseed oil

Sea salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons whisky

3 tablespoons white wine

3 tablespoons water

Chicken stock made from a stockpot and water

for the duxelle

45g butter

150g brown mushrooms, cleaned and finely chopped

6 spring onions, chopped

1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped

3 teaspoons fresh rosemary needles, finely chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

for the sauce

30g butter

2 tablespoons plain flour

1 egg yolk

150ml soured cream

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoon whisky

1 teaspoon sugar

What to do…

Let’s start with the duxelle, which you can do in advance if you like. Heat the butter over a moderate heat and fry the mushrooms, spring onions, carrot rosemary, salt and pepper for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Take your chicken breasts and either cut pockets into each breast by slicing horizontally or flatten gently with a mallet. Either stuff the pockets with the duxelle or spoon down the length of one side of the breast and fold over. Either way, pinch to close and ‘pin’ together using cocktail sticks – they won’t look pretty but don’t worry, you’re removing the cocktail sticks later.

Heat the oil over a moderate heat and seal the breasts as best you can (given the cocktail sticks) all over and without browning. Season with salt and pepper. pour over the whisky and flame it (love a bit of drama!). Pour over water and wine. Cover and gently poach over a low heat for 20 minutes.

Remove the breasts from the pan and pop them into your baking dish. Remove the cocktail sticks and discard. Pour the remaining pan juices into a jug and add enough chicken stock to make 250ml.

To make the sauce, melt the butter over a moderate heat and tip in the flour. Using a balloon whisk, quickly beat together and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add in the hot stock, whisking all the while, until thickened. In a jug, lightly beat the egg yolk and then pour over the soured cream, mustard, whisky and sugar. Mix together. Off the heat, gradually add the cream mixture to the hot sauce, whisking again. Return to the heat and whisk until thickened. Don’t let it boil. Pour the sauce over the chicken and pop into the oven for 25 minutes to warm through. Clear up so that when you sit down to enjoy this deliciousness you are not surrounded by the debris of pots and pans! Pour wine, sit down and enjoy!

Chicken Breasts Duxelle close up w

Serving suggestion…

Rice works well with maybe some greenery (tenderstem brocolli, sugar snap peas perhaps) on the side.

Tip…

I chopped my mushrooms, carrots and rosemary in a mini food chopper – much quicker than doing it manually, even though each ingredient was done separately.

Inspired by…

Lynn Bedford Hall, New Creative Cuisine

 

 

Sausage, Root Vegetable and Apple Roast

Conscious that the weather is supposed to be on the turn, with temperatures increasing and thoughts of barbecues on the horizon, I decided to use up the remaining vegetables – usually reserved for the traditional Sunday roast – that were still lurking in the bottom of the fridge. We were also fortunate enough to have lurking sausages (a frequent event as, for some inexplicable reason, we insist on buying packets of 18) so this recipe came to mind. A fantastic, really tasty and cheap family supper, it’s also really flexible – you can pretty much chuck in whatever root veg you have lying around – enjoy!

Serves 4

What you need…

You can chuck in whatever quantities you want really but this time I used the following:

1 x roomy ovenproof dish, lightly buttered

3 large carrots, peeled, trimmed and halved lengthways

2 parsnips, peeled, trimmed and quartered

2 turnips, peeled, trimmed and quartered

2 fat slices of swede, peeled and halved

2 red potatoes, quartered

Splash of olive oil

2 Pink Lady apples, cored and cut into six wedges

8 sausages

1 dessertspoon wholegrain mustard

1 dessertspoon runny honey

A handful sage, roughly chopped

What to do…

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

Chuck the root vegetables into your ovenproof dish, splash over the olive oil, give them a quick stir and pop them in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and tip in the honey and wholegrain mustard, add the apples and mix all together so that the honey and mustard are evenly distributed. Wodge in the sausages and pop back in the oven for a further 25 minutes or until the sausages are golden brown. You may want to take the dish out half way through and stir everything around to make sure the sausages, in particular, are evenly coloured all around.

That’s it! Serve, enjoy this really tasty supper and feel smug over how very easy it is!

Inspired by…

Don’t know – one of those ripped from a magazine years ago!

How easy…

Ridiculously!

 

Key Lime Pie with Lime Jelly

A fabulous dessert that is completely different from anything else I have made. There have been lots of zingy lemon-infused dishes but limes take zing to a whole new level. In this pud, the sweet, ginger-infused pastry is light and contrasts deliciously with the sharp, tart but light lime filling and the tangy lime jelly – it’s beautifully refreshing. Personally, I preferred mine straight up but John opted for a little double cream to gently soften the lovely sharpness of this wonderful, summery dessert. Put it on your list for when the sun eventually comes out!

Serves 8

What you need…

1 x 23cm spring form fluted tart tin, lightly buttered and lined on the bottom with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

for the pastry

250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

50g icing sugar

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon ground ginger

135g butter, cold and cubed

1 egg, beaten

2-3 tablespoons ice-cold water

for the filling

4 egg yolks

1 x 397g tin condensed milk

Juice of 4 limes

Grated zest of 2 limes

for the jelly

3 sheets gelatine

Juice of 5 limes

60ml water

Grated zest of 1 lime

40g caster sugar

1 drop green food colouring

What to do…

Tip the flour, icing sugar, salt and butter into your food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the ginger and pulse again until evenly incorporated. Add the beaten egg and 2 tablespoons cold water and pulse again until the pastry comes together. Add a tiny bit more water if needed. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and quickly knead into a ball – handle the pastry as little as possible. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll the pastry out to about 3mm thick and line the tart tin with it, making sure that the pastry stands just a little proud of the rim. Trim the edges, prick the base and pop back in the fridge for 30 minutes (to prevent shrinkage during cooking).

Preheat oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6 and put in a baking sheet to heat up.

Remove the pastry case from the fridge, line with parchment paper and fill up with baking beans. Pop onto the hot baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and baking beans and cook for a further 5 minutes to dry out the pastry. Remove and set aside.

Reduce the oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Using a handheld electric whisk, beat the egg yolks in a large bowl for 3 minutes. Pour in the condensed milk and whisk for a further 2 minutes. Add the lime juice and zest and whisk to incorporate evenly. Tip into the pastry case, smoothing over the top for an even spread. Pop back onto the hot baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until just set. Remove and allow to cool completely. Pop in the fridge to chill.

And then to the super tangy lime jelly! Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, put the lime juice, water and caster sugar into a small saucepan and gently heat to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and add to the pan, stirring until dissolved. Pour into a jug and stir in the lime zest and food colouring. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes.

Pour jelly over the top of your key lime pie – there will be a bit more than you need so stop pouring before it overflows the pastry! Pop back into the fridge for at least 60 minutes to set.

When you’re ready to indulge, ease your lovely key lime pie out of its tin and using a sharp knife, cut into slices. Enjoy this lovely tangy, fresh dessert that with a little double cream if liked. Just yummy and VERY moreish!

Inspired by…

Camilla Stephens, Higgidy

How easy…

This is not a difficult dessert at all and very rewarding. However, you do have to have other things to do to fill in the time whilst this dessert makes a few trips to the fridge – wasn’t a problem for me – I just found other little jobs to do and was then also cooking the lunch, so it all worked perfectly.

Cider-Baked Luxury Fish Pie

 

I’ve never really been a fan of fish pie but this recipe is just rich enough to feel indulgent without that sluggish, overly full and slightly sick feeling that often comes with overly rich food! Haddock, scallops and prawns are the basis of this dish so, providing you’ve got good quality, the great natural flavours are already there, just waiting to party with your taste buds! It has double cream in but that’s countered by the cider to produce a tasty sauce that just begs an extra spoon at the table just to make absolutely sure there isn’t any left; and for the mashed potato topping, I did my own thing – anchovies don’t scream ‘salty fish’ as you might expect but just add a depth of flavour. At our table, it was agreed, we’re definitely having this dish again – absolutely lovely!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x 1 litre ovenproof dish, lightly buttered

100ml milk

400g haddock fillets

100ml milk

150g scallops

150g large raw prawns, shelled

25g butter

25g plain flour

100ml dry still cider

75ml double cream

1 dessertspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

for the topping

500g King Edwards potatoes, peeled and roughly chunked

3 anchovy fillets (from a jar in oil), roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

100g salted butter

Splash of milk

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

What to do…

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

Pop the potatoes in a pan of salted water, bring to the boil and simmer until soft (15 minutes-ish).

In a little saucepan, tip in the anchovies, garlic and butter. Put it on a really low heat, just to melt the butter and let the flavours develop. Ignore it until you need it later.

Meanwhile, pop the haddock into a large pan with the 100ml milk, bring to the boil and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove the fish to a plate with a slotted spoon, retaining the flavoured milk for later. When it’s cool enough to handle, flake the fish into large chunks into your ovenproof dish. Tip into the dish the scallops and prawns and spread about evenly.

Melt the 25g butter in a small sauce pan, tip in the flour, cooking for 1 minute whilst stirring like crazy. Remove from the heat and, using a balloon whisk, gradually mix in the cider and then the retained milk. Return to a moderate heat for up to 10 minutes, whisking until smooth. Whisk in the cream and mustard; add the parsley and season to taste. Pour over the fish and set aside whilst you complete your mash.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Add a splash of milk and the melted butter with anchovy and garlic. Depending on your preference, either mash traditionally or, if you would like a smoother, creamier version, use an electric hand whisk to create a lovely silky mashed potato (no points for guessing which approach I prefer!) Taste and adjust the seasoning. If you’re feeling really naughty, you could add a tad more butter or double cream.

Dollop the mash all over the fish mixture and then use a fork to give it a nice ‘roughed up’ texture.

Pop in the oven and bake for 40 minutes until lovely and golden brown. Serve and enjoy – it is utterly delicious!

Serving suggestion…

We really enjoyed this dish with garlic, rosemary and anchovy-flavoured greens together with Hasselback potatoes, both of which I will type up and blog this week – they are great sides that would go with a wide variety of dishes, were really tasty, attractive and required next to no effort (always a bonus!)

Tip…

I use Cooks’ Ingredients frozen and chopped garlic, rather than doing all that peeling and chopping business.

Inspired by…

Woman and Home magazine

How easy…

Dead easy, really quick and very little clearing up – perfect for a weekday supper, although the ingredients aren’t the cheapest.

Orange Drizzle Cake

 

I heard on the Chris Evans’ radio 2 breakfast show on Tuesday that Great British Bake Off winner 2015, the lovely Nadiya Hussain, had been appointed to create a birthday cake for our wonderful 90-year- old Queen and that she’d decided to make an orange drizzle cake. Well, we all know that hers will be a thing of wonder but I thought that in my own small way, I would celebrate the day with a more basic version of the same. Using my Mary Berry lemon drizzle cake recipe as a basis, I simply swapped out the fresh lemon bits for orange – couldn’t be simpler! Whilst the lemon version is really zesty, zingy and fresh, the orange alternative is mellower and more subtle with a nod towards summer. They’re both lovely, dead easy, take no time and both very moreish. Happy Birthday ma’am!!!!

Serves 8

What you need…

for the cake

900g loaf tin, greased and parchment paper-lined

3 large eggs

175g self-raising flour

175g caster sugar

175g butter, softened

1½ teaspoons baking powder

Zest of 1 large orange, finely grated

for crunchy orange icing

100g granulated sugar

Juice of 1 large orange

What to do…

Preheat oven to 180c / 350 F / gas 4.

Chuck all the cake ingredients into a food processor and whizz until thoroughly mixed.

Tip into the loaf tin and bake in oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown and shrinking away from the sides of the tin slightly.

Pop tin on a cooling rack and leave from 10/15 minutes until the cake is warm rather than hot.

Prick over the top of the cake with a skewer.

Mix together the sugar and orange juice and pour over the top of the cake whilst it is still in its tin. It will look like there’s loads too much topping – keep the faith and pour the lot in. Walk away.

Come back 10/15 minutes later and the orange drizzle topping will have largely disappeared – it’s gone into the cake (with the help of your skewering) to ensure that it is wonderfully moist.

When it’s cool rather than cold, loosen the sides away from the tin and lift out, using the paper. Dispense with the parchment paper and serve your delicious orange drizzle cake – as you taste it, I swear the gentle warmth of an early summer sun seeps into your bones – it is truly delightful…and for next to no effort.

Inspired by…

Nadiya Hussain for bringing the idea to my attention and Mary Berry for providing me with the original recipe used.

How easy…

Spectacularly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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