Author Archives for Cindy Duffield

Prawn and Pomegranate Salad with Mint and Coriander

This is quite simply a really yummy salad: the delicate fishiness of prawns intermingled with citrusy, fresh coriander, the cool cucumber, the aromatic, sweet mint and then the tart piquancy of pomegranate seeds. All of those flavours rolling around together are just fabulous and the pomegranate seeds make the salad look like it’s bejeweled! Simply lovely served with barbecued fish! Try it – you’ll love it!

Serves 4 as a side dish or starter

What you need…

Seeds from ½ pomegranate (buy ready-prepared if you can – lot’s easier)

7cm length cucumber, peeled, sliced and then quartered

2 large handfuls coriander, chopped

Small handful mint leaves, torn

A selection of your favourite salad leaves (I like rocket, red chicory, baby gem, baby spinach, iceberg)

200g cooked prawns

for the dressing

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon runny honey

A squeeze of lemon juice

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Into a screw-topped jar, tip all the dressing ingredients, screw the lid on tightly and set aside.

In a large, roomy salad bowl, chuck in all your ingredients.

Just before you are ready to eat, shake your dressing like mad and then pour over the salad before tossing all the elements together so that everything is evenly mixed and coated with dressing.

Tips…

Sometimes, I buy raw prawns and cook them in a splash of oil and salt about 30 minutes before we eat this salad, adding them at the last minute. The slight warmth of the prawns seems to emphasise the other flavours – really lovely.

A variation on the pomegranate is strawberries, hulled and quartered. Less tart, they give the salad a gentler tone.

For extra crunch, include some sugar snap peas that have been sat in boiling water for 2 minutes before being refreshed in cold water and then drained.

Include basil and parsley to make up the leaves if you happen to have any in the fridge. There are no rules, just a mix of flavours you enjoy together.

Inspired by…

I’m not sure: I think I made it up!

How easy…

See, it’s just salad, which I’ve always viewed as something that should be dead simple but really tasty.

 

Heavenly Hasselback Potatoes

I first saw these a few weeks ago on MasterChef and having tried them once, they’ve adorned our plates several times since, so popular are they! They tick all the boxes – easy, exceedingly tasty – something between sautéed, really great chips and roasties – they taste fantastic anyway and I just love the way they look after they’ve fanned out in the oven during cooking. My version is slightly healthier than the original (unusually for me), which uses butter as well as oil.

Serves 4

What you need…

12 medium potatoes

5 tablespoons rapeseed oil

Sea salt (course crystals work spectacularly well, giving these potatoes a lovely glistening crunch)

What to do…

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

Take each potato and put it onto a wooden spoon and cut across it at roughly 3mm intervals. Because the potato is on the spoon, your knife won’t be able to cut all the way through but will stop on the lip of spoon: it is this that enables the fanning out of the potato during the cooking process – so damned easy but so impressive (well, I’m easily pleased).

Pour the rapeseed oil into your baking tin and pop it onto the hob over a high heat. Once the oil is hot, place in the potatoes, cut-side down into the oil, swizzle them around and then turn them over so that the cut-sides are facing upwards. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and pop them in the oven to let them do their thing. How long they take depends on their size – 40 minutes for medium potatoes but longer for bigger ones. Keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when they are crisp on the outside but still soft in the middle.

Serve and enjoy this lovely new (for me) version of the humble potato!

Inspired by…

Annie, a contestant on MasterChef, who in turn attributed the recipe for these Swedish potatoes to Nigella Lawson

 How easy…

Very, very easy – they do themselves while you do other things!

 

Pasta Puttanesca

 

I haven’t made this for years (pre-kids!) and I don’t know why – just forgotten about the recipe I suppose. I make lots of pasta dishes – some follow recipes, some are made-up favourites and some depend on what’s languishing in the bottom of the fridge. But this one stands apart from the crowd – it’s gutsy with intense flavours – tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, capers and olives all party together against the backdrop of tomatoes and basil – a great pick-me-up of a lunch or supper. Really yummy.

Serves 4

What you need…

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 fresh chillis, de-seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped, plus extra for garnishing

Black pepper

100g anchovies (bought in jars in olive oil)

300g black olives, pitted

2 tablespoons capers, drained

2 x 400g tins good quality Italian chopped tomatoes

1 x 142g tin tomato purée

Sea salt

Spaghetti! (How much is dependent on how hungry you are! I use gluten-free, just because it doesn’t sit so heavily on my stomach)

What to do…

Heat the oil over a moderate heat and add the garlic cloves, chillis and basil. Cook briefly until the garlic is pale gold. Then tip in all the other sauce ingredients except the salt (anchovies are salty so leave the addition of salt until the end).

Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer very gently without a lid for 40 minutes – the smell will be amazing and at the end, the sauce will be lovely, thick and bursting with flavour. Taste and add salt, if required.

Meanwhile, cook your spaghetti according to the packet instructions – mine takes about 12 minutes, so I put the water on to heat up about 20 minutes before the sauce is ready.

Drain the pasta pour over your gutsy sauce and mix together. Serve garnished with basil and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese. A glass or two of a robust Italian red wouldn’t go amiss either!

Puttanesca close up w

Inspired by…

Delia Smith

How easy…

So very easy. It also has the added benefit of comprising store cupboard ingredients so it’s a great mid-week special when your scouring the kitchen for inspiration!

 

Rhubarb and Amaretti Cake with Orange and Rosemary Glaze

Once finished, I thought that this was quite an unassuming looking cake, but once tasted – WOW – I completely changed my mind. It is the reason the word ‘luscious’ was invented, surely! This cake is moist and the combination of the rosemary and orange is a marriage made in heaven. Ground almonds, as part of a list of cake ingredients, are fast becoming a favourite as their inclusion automatically guarantees a lovely moist, moreish sponge. And then the rhubarb: just yum, yum, yum: another one to add to your ‘must try’ list.

Serves 10-12

What you need…

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

225g unsalted butter, cut into chunks

200g golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs, lightly beaten

Zest of 2 oranges, finely grated

200g ground almonds

50g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

8 amaretti biscuits, broken into small chunks

2 sticks rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 6cm pieces and halved lengthways to produce 12 – 16 lengths

Granulated sugar to sprinkle

for the glaze

Juice of 1 orange

2 fresh rosemary sprigs

20g granulated sugar

Squeeze fresh lemon juice

What to do…

Into your food processor, chuck the butter and sugar and whizz until they are combined, pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and whizz some more to disperse. Whilst whizzing, gradually add the eggs, making sure that each addition is fully mixed in before pouring in some more.

Tip in the orange zest, almonds, flour and baking powder and whizz to evenly combine. Remove the plastic blending blade from your food processor and then gently stir in the amaretti chunks.

Tip the lot into your tart tin. Gently push in the rhubarb pieces in a spoke pattern, leaving them two thirds uncovered (they will sink in the oven).

Bake for 40 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. If the cake becomes mainly golden brown before the cake is properly cooked through, loosely cover with foil for the remaining baking time.

Leave to cool in its tin for 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle the tart tin. Remove from the tin (whilst still on its base) and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Whilst the cake is cooking, make the syrup: into a saucepan, tip the orange juice, rosemary and sugar. Heat and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cool. Add a little squeeze of lemon juice. Taste. Add more if the syrup is still too sweet for your taste.

Once both the cake and syrup are cool, pierce the cake all over with a skewer and then gently and slowly pour over the syrup, pausing whilst it sinks in, if necessary.

Sprinkle with granulated sugar and then take your first slice…OMG…just so luscious. It’s moist and completely delicious. Prepare to take a second slice – you won’t want to say ‘no’!.

Amaretti cake 2 w

Observation…

In the original recipe, the rhubarb could clearly be seen from the top of the cake, but mine had sunk to the bottom. To be honest: who cares? Mine was still attractive and the cake was absolutely luscious, moist and gorgeous!

Inspired by….

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Very: measure out, whizz, arrange rhubarb, bake and then pour over syrup and sprinkle sugar. Most taxing part: saying no to more!

Affogato al Caffe e Disaronno

Wow! This is just Naughty with a massively capital ‘N’. Ice cream, Disaronno, espresso and chocolate: it tastes like a combination of Italy’s boozy trifle, Tiramisu and my favourite cocktail, Espresso Martini. Equally, we started off eating it with a sundae spoon and ended up drinking it! The biggest problem is that it makes you greedy to get the lot down as quickly as possible, so fantastically naughty, it is! Made in seconds, this could become a really wicked little habit! What can I say: you need to try it!

Serves 1 (but that would be sad: double up and share with your favourite person)

What you need…

1 scoop of vanilla or honeycomb ice cream (previously blogged and works brilliantly in this).

1 tablespoon Disaronno

1 shot freshly made espresso coffee

1 teaspoon good quality dark chocolate, finely grated

What to do…

Wodge ice cream into the bottom of a pretty glass or small cup.

Pour over the Disaronno, then the espresso and then, sprinkle over the chocolate.

Immediately dive in with your spoon, marvel at the wicked gorgeousness of it, plunge in the spoon a couple more times before discarding it to drink the rest of your affogato! There’s probably a more elegant way of enjoying this but….this level of naughtiness deserves some gusto!

Tips…

If you are not quite as partial to Disaronno as I am, you could always swap it for Baileys.

There’s nothing to stop you mucking about with the quantities of any of the ingredients in this pudding-cum-cocktail.

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Dangerously so!

My Favourite Chicken Marinade

I’ve been doing this marinade for years and everyone who has ever tried it has requested the recipe so I thought I’d share. We used it this time to marinade whole chicken breasts before barbecuing them. But on other occasions, I’ve cut the chicken into chunks and fried the chicken in its marinade before adding it warm to a salad of leaves, avocado and bacon. Either way, its lovely: the chicken is succulent and has a rich, almost caramelised flavour – not too sweet but just rather gorgeous – it elevates the simple chicken breast into something much more enticing, if I don’t say so myself! Give it a go!

Serves 4

What you need…

4 skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons dark brown soft sugar

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons soy sauce/tamari (for gluten-free)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

What to do…

Score the chicken breasts lightly to enable the marinade to get into the meat.

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add the chicken breasts, give them a quick stir, cover with cling film and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade with a slotted spoon and barbecue until cooked all the way through.

Serve and enjoy! It really is lovely.

Serving suggestion…

I tried this salad from the Hemsley sisters this weekend and it works spectacularly well with the marinated and barbecued chicken!

Courgette Salad Close Up w

Per person: take 1 courgette, trim the ends and grate the courgette into a bowl.

In a small saucepan, dry-fry a handful of pine nuts for a couple of minutes, just until they are toastie!

Mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil with 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar .

Mix the dressing into the courgette, season well with sea salt and black pepper and tip over the pine nuts. Serve – so simple but absolutely delicious!

Inspired by…

I have no idea where the marinade came from but ‘thank you’ to whoever came up with the combination!

How easy…

I marinate, John barbecues – dead easy!

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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