Author Archives for Cindy Duffield

The Most Chocolatey Chocolate Muffins

Rich, sweet and moist in the middle, these muffins are absolutely gorgeous – obviously naughty and seriously chocolatey. Also, dead easy to make. The only problem is the negotiation with little people on how much mixture is left in the mixing bowl for them to ‘clean’! Enjoy – very yummy!

Makes 12 large or 18 medium muffins

What you need…

1 or 2 muffin cases (depending on the size), together with paper muffin cases

250g plain flour

200g caster sugar

200g chocolate chips

45g cocoa powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 egg

235ml plain yogurt

120ml milk

120ml rapeseed oil

What to do…

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

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the plain flour, caster sugar, 125g chocolate chips, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda.

Into your food processor, tip the egg, yogurt, milk and rapeseed oil and whizz until smooth. Pour into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir together. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, filling them up to about three quarters. Sprinkle over the remaining chocolate chips.

Pop in the oven for 20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool your scrumbly muffins in their tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Demolish and enjoy!

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Inspired by…

www.allrecipes.co.uk

How easy…

Minimal effort for some considerable and very yummy return.

Orange Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

These cookies make for a lovely little treat and they are spectacularly easy and very fast to knock up. The cookie is crisp, rich and crumbly and then you bite into the gorgeous crunchy nuggets orange chocolate – just yummy. Make them with kids – they’re nearly instant – or make them just for yourself, if you fancy a quick hit of baking therapy! (Moving house: I needed some Cindy-in-the-kitchen time). Either way, you’ll love ‘em.

Makes around 20

What you need…

2 x baking sheets, lightly buttered or lined with Bake O Glide

175g butter, cut into cubes and soft

75g caster sugar

175g plain flour

75g semolina

85g Terry’s chocolate orange, chopped into wee nuggets

What to do…

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

Tip the butter and sugar into your food processor and whizz until pale and fluffy. Add in the flour and semolina and whizz again until the mixture begins to form course breadcrumbs. Scrape down the sides, remove the blade and then stir in the chocolate pieces.

Shape the mixture into around 20 walnut-sized balls and arrange on your baking sheets, leaving enough room around them to spread. Flatten them with the heel of your hand. Pop them in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and then use a palette knife to transfer to cooling racks.

Once cool, make yourself a large mug of tea or coffee, find a relaxing spot to sit in with your favourite book or the newspaper and enjoy some me-time, munching your way through these delicious cookies.

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Childs’ play, I’d say!

 

Prawn Cocktail with Avocado

Hurtling back to the 1970s, this was the dinner party starter that was bang on trend! I don’t know why its popularity waned but it is definitely on the rise again now. I love it – it’s so fast and easy to put together, the sauce is pretty much from bits and pieces in the store cupboard and it tastes great – rich, smooth avocado providing the perfect foil to the fresh, tangy sauce and the plump prawns – yummy. Take a trip down memory lane with this one – it’ll be worth it!

Serves 2 as a starter

What you need…

100g cooked prawns or crayfish tails

1 avocado, halved, stone removed and then sliced

for the Marie Rose sauce

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon salad cream

1 dessertspoon tomato ketchup

Squeeze of lemon

8 – 10 drops Tabasco sauce

Pinch of paprika (optional)

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Measure out all your Marie Rose sauce ingredients into a jug and beat together with a fork. Stir in the prawns/crayfish so they are smothered in its loveliness.

Lay out your avocado slices however you fancy and either plop the prawns and sauce on the top or to the side. Again, however you fancy. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy this simple but lovely starter!

Inspired by…

The 1970s and I think I just played with the sauce until I got it how I like it!

How easy…

Couldn’t be any easier!

 

 

Amaretto Savarin with Nectarines

I was somewhat bemused by this recipe: looks like a cake but the ingredients sound like bread – what the hell – decided to give it a go anyway. Wow! What a wonderful surprise! The sponge, if it that is the correct term, is unbelievably, like spectacularly light and….it’s drenched in the amaretto syrup. Push a bite-sized piece of the sweet, moist savarin onto a spoon and add a wedge of delicious warm, ripe (and somewhat naughty) nectarine – together they are utter bliss. Nothing short of it!

Serves 16+

What you need…

1 x 1 litre savarin baking mould, lightly buttered

250g strong flour, plus extra for dusting

30g sugar

4 eggs

Pinch of salt

15g fresh or dried yeast or 1 sachet of fast action dried yeast (my preference)

85g melted butter

for the amaretto syrup

150g caster sugar

400ml water

Zest of 1 lemon

125ml amaretto liqueur (Disaronno)

for the nectarines

60g butter

8 nectarines, stones removed and cut into wedges

4 tablespoons demerara sugar

4 springs lemon thyme, leaves picked

500ml double cream, whipped

12 amaretti biscuits, broken (optional)

What to do…

The day before you want to serve, place the flour, sugar, eggs, salt and yeast into a mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix on a slow speed until the mixture comes together (I did speed 2 for 10 minutes). With the machine still running, pour in the melted butter and mix in to thoroughly incorporate. Remove the bowl, cover with cling film and pop in the fridge overnight.

Also, the day before, make the syrup. Tip all the ingredients into a saucepan over a gentle heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, pop on the lid and leave overnight, allowing the flavours to fully develop.

The next day, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead it to form a large ball, then roll it to create a long sausage, just big enough to fit in the savarin mould. Leave to rise for 50 minutes (I put mine in the small oven at the lowest temperature possible).

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

Pop your savarin mould into the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from the savarin from the oven and allow to cool in the mould.

Meanwhile, strain the syrup and discard the lemon zest.

Turn your savarin out onto a pretty plate or shallow serving dish and liberally poke all over with a bamboo skewer. Then spoon over the syrup, thoroughly drenching the savarin.

Just before you are ready to serve, pop the butter, nectarines, demerara sugar and lemon thyme into a saucepan over a gentle heat and warm until the sugar has dissolved.

Serve large, moist slices of the savarin with a couple of wedges of warm, sweet nectarine, a large dollop of cream and a crumble of amaretti biscuits. Truly, you will think you are in heaven – absolutely gorgeous!

 Tip…

Rather than using one large savarin mould, you could bake individual or smaller versions, freezing those not needed on the day.

 Inspired by…

The Daily Mail’s Weekend

 How easy…

Really easy and I love that you can do most of the prep the day before you want to indulge.

Chocolate Malteser Cake

Serves 16+

Your kids can grow up but some things never change. Connagh and I saw Lorraine Pascale make this cake on telly several years ago and we have made it twice since. Asked what kind of cake he would like for his 17th birthday and this was the request! I’ve changed Lorraine’s original recipe, replacing her sponge and butter cream recipes with those used to create my 365 cake – my all time favourite chocolate cake. The result? Fabulous if I don’t say so myself – the cake didn’t last long though: the sponge is so, so light but lusciously chocolatey; likewise the butter cream is sumptuously rich and chocolately without being sickly. Simply divine.

What you need…

2 x 20cm / 8” cake tins (spring form or loose-bottomed ideally), lightly buttered and lined on the bottom with parchment paper.

340g unsalted butter, room temperature

340g caster sugar

6 eggs

1 dessertspoon vanilla extract

140g milk

225g self-raising flour

85g cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

for the chocolate butter cream

75g dark chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa) broken into pieces

150g unsalted butter, room temperature

300g icing sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the decoration

Around 800g Maltesers (this will be too many but I have accounted for the chef’s privileges that go along the way! It equates to 7 x 120g boxes or 2 and a bit x 360g boxes).

What to do…

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

Using a food processor, beat together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Whilst it’s still beating, add in the eggs, one at a time, ensuring that each is thoroughly mixed in before adding the next. Add the vanilla extract and milk and mix in.

In a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Then, add in the ingredients from the food processor and, using a balloon whisk, fold together all the ingredients until they are thoroughly blended. Divide the chocolate sponge mixture between the two cake tins.

Bake the sponges in the oven for 45 minutes until the cake is firm and an inserted skewer comes out dry.

Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the tins and then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the butter cream, made especially gorgeous by the use of the melted chocolate.

Put your chocolate into a heatproof bowl and then into a steamer over a saucepan of simmering water. Gently melt the chocolate and then set aside until it is cool enough to touch.

In a separate bowl, sieve in the icing sugar and then beat together with the butter. Add the vanilla essence and then tip in the warm chocolate. Mix together using a small balloon whisk to ensure it is evenly and thoroughly blended. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Spread the butter cream lavishly and evenly across the bottom sponge. Pop on the top sponge. Using a spatula or palette knife spread more butter cream all over the outside of the assembled cake, taking particular care to fill in the gap between the two sponges. Don’t be sparing – this is one decadent chocolate cake and should be spared no naughtiness! Run a palette knife lightly around the cake and then over the top so that you have a smooth surface onto which you can pop your Maltesers.

‘Pre-clean’ the butter cream bowl before sticking it in the dishwasher: you know exactly what I mean – a small spatula, fingers – anything will do – it’s too good to waste – tastes amazing! If you have small child (or older) children around, they always seem happy to help with this particular job!

Spend time plopping on your Maltesters. I start at the bottom of the cake, going around and around the cake until I ultimately end up in the centre of the top! Lorraine Pascale was somewhat more precise in her arrangement, involving a ruler! Serve! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Decadent, delicious, delovely…just one more piece please.

Chocolate malteser cake 2

Inspired by…

Lorraine Pascale for the concept and a mish-mash of other chocolate cake recipes to get the one I love.

How easy…

Very easy; you just need time to play with the Maltesers!

 

Unexpectedly Lovely Broccoli Salad!

I’ve never thought about including broccoli in a salad and when I saw this salad, I was a little dubious. However, having tried it, I’m an absolute fan! The broccoli brings crunch and substance to the salad and tastes super-healthy. A perfect foil is provided by both the apple and red pepper, which also deliver a gentle sweetness; and the pine nuts just finish it off beautifully. It’s vibrant, fresh, unusual and really tasty. It’s also really fast and stupidly easy!

Serves 4 – 6 as a side dish

What you need…

300g broccoli, chopped very small

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped very small

1 apple, cored and chopped very small

30g pine nuts

for the dressing

30ml olive oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses

1 teaspoon runny honey

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Tip all the dressing ingredients into a screw top jar and shake like mad. Taste and adjust salt and pepper seasoning if necessary. Set aside.

In your salad bowl, pop the rest of the ingredients.

Tip over the salad dressing, toss all the ingredients together so that they are evenly mixed. Serve! Yep, that’s it! And it’s really great!

In the Thermomix…

If you’re lucky enough to have one of these machines, just chuck all ingredients into the bowl and hit 5 seconds at speed 4. The broccoli, pepper and apple only need to be cut into rough chunks, as the machine does the rest!

Inspired by…

Thermomix: The Basic Cook Book

How easy…

Whichever way: stupidly easy!

Chimichurri Verde with Steak

I’m not overly partial to steak, normally favouring a couple of fillets over the course of a year rather than a more regular cheaper cut. That said, John found this Brazilian-inspired recipe towards the end of the Olympics and we thought we’d give it a bash. Wow! The steaks – purchased from our local butcher – were so very succulent but it was the chimichurri that lifted them from your average rib eye to something really quite fantastic. We are DEFINITELY having these again. I also reckon that you could use the chimichurri to dress up a more mundane fish steak. I have a feeling we’ll be trying it with all sorts!

Serves 4

What you need…

50ml cider vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

100ml olive oil

30g fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped finely

30g fresh coriander, chopped finely

15g fresh oregano, chopped finely

1 dried red chilli, chopped

3 spring onions, trimmed and sliced finely

4 garlic cloves, chopped

Splash of rapeseed oil

4 x 240g 1cm rib eye steaks

What to do…

First, make the chimichurri by tipping all the ingredients (except the rapeseed oil and steaks!) into a screw top jar, pop the lid on a shake like mad. Pop the jar in the fridge for anything between 30 minutes and 24 hours to let the flavours develop.

Preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 4.

Gently bash the steaks each side with a steak mallet.

Heat the rapeseed oil in a hot frying pan and fry the steaks for 2 minutes on each side. Transfer them to a baking tray and smother them with half the chimichurri. Pop them in the oven and cook for 10 minutes (for medium).

Serve straight from the oven, ideally with garlicky crushed new potatoes or hasselback potatoes (both already blogged) and something green (broccoli that has been steamed and then tossed in garlic and either chilli- or anchovy-infused oil would work really well) together with a generous dollop of the remaining chimichurri on the side – simple but stunning!

Inspired by…

Waitrose Weekend

How easy…

Ever so, especially as the chimichurri can be prepared up to a day in advance.

Nectarine, Almond and Polenta Cake with Marsala Mascarpone

Yum: I’m not sure if this recipe comes from Sicily, where Marsala originates, but it certainly tastes like it does! A dense and exceptionally moist, sweet sponge created by in the inclusion of nectarine pulp, Marsala, polenta, almonds and olive oil, this cake is absolutely delicious served with the sweet, rich and Marsala-infused mascarpone and when you complete the dish with a couple of slices of ripe nectarines, it’s just wonderful and so very, very summery. An added bonus is that it keeps really well for a couple of days if you don’t demolish it all on the first!

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

1 x 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin, lightly buttered and lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

150g caster sugar

3 ripe nectarines plus a further 3-4 to serve (depending on how many of you are having your cake and eating it!)

125ml sweet Marsala wine

190ml extra virgin olive oil

240g caster sugar

100g polenta

250g ground almonds

3 large eggs, beaten

for the Marsala mascarpone

500g mascarpone

100g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

4 tablespoons sweet Marsala wine

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 170°c / 325°f / gas.

Fill a large saucepan with water and add the caster sugar. Bring to the boil and gently drop in the nectarines. Turn down the heat and gently poach them for 30 minutes, until tender.

Drain the nectarines and cool. Slice the fruit off the stone and pop the flesh into your food processor. Add the 125 ml Marsala and whizz to a purée, Add the remaining cake ingredients and whizz again to create a smooth batter. Pour into your cake tin and bake for 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, use a handheld electric whisk to beat together all the ingredients for the Marsala mascarpone ‘cream’. Also, slice up the remaining nectarines, discarding the stones.

Pop the cooled cake onto a pretty serving plate and dust with icing sugar, arrange some nectarine slices on the top and offer the remaining slices to your fellow cake eaters together with the lovely Marsala mascarpone – delightfully delicious.

Inspired by…

Delicious Magazine online

How easy…

Ridiculously! And it can be made ahead.

Monkfish with Asparagus Risotto and Sage Oil

This is a lovely warm and comforting risotto with the rather sumptuous addition of monkfish. Very filling and very easy to make, it’s very slow cooking process also makes for some relaxation time. I love sage and the sage-infused oil adds just perfect finishing touch to this tasty family supper dish.

What you need…

for the sage oil

40ml olive oil

A small handful of sage leaves, roughly chopped

for the risotto

1 x baking tray, lined with Bake O Glide or buttered to prevent the fish sticking

500ml water, boiled in the kettle

1 vegetable stockpot (I use Knorr)

16 – 20 asparagus spears (depending on how much you like your asparagus)

Splash of olive oil

Knob of butter

3 shallots, finely chopped

400g risotto rice

350ml white wine

Sea salt and black pepper

800g monkfish, cut into biggish bite-sized chunks

30g Parmesan cheese, grated

What to do…

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

In a small saucepan, tip in the oil and sage leaves and turn onto the lowest heat, leaving the sage to infuse into the oil whilst you do the rest of the recipe.

In another pan, make a vegetable stock by dissolving the stockpot into the boiling water, using a balloon whisk to speed up the process. Set aside.

Trim your asparagus (I just break mine roughly in the middle). Set aside the lovely tips and roughly chop the remaining woody ends, adding them to the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a gentle heat, just to keep it warm.

In a third, wide saucepan, heat the oil and butter over a moderate heat. Add in the shallots and sauté until they are soft but not brown (5 minutes maybe). Add the rice and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the wine and stir on a casual basis until it has all been absorbed (I normally faff around doing other bits and pieces at this point).

Using a slotted spoon, remove the chopped asparagus from the stock and discard. Chuck the asparagus tips into the rice, season with sea salt and black pepper and then add 1 ladle of stock into the rice and turn the heat down so that it is very gently simmering. More casual stirring required. Once that first ladle has been absorbed, add another and keep going like this until all the stock has been used. It is important to do this slowly (15 – 20 minutes) and over a low heat to ensure that the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. If you run out of stock before the rice is properly cooked, add a little boiling water. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

As the last ladle goes in, place the monkfish chunks on your baking tray and drizzle over a little sage oil, including the leaves. Season and pop in the oven and cook for 10 minutes – it’s cooked when it bounces back when poked!

Whilst the fish is cooking, remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the Parmesan. Pop the lid on and let the risotto rest to become lovely, oozy and creamy for 5 minutes.

To serve, spoon or plonk a wee mountain of asparagus risotto onto each plate (definitely warmed) and then scatter over the monkfish, before drizzling over the remaining sage oil. Enjoy! Just enjoy – absolutely delightful.

Tip…

Rather than peeling and chopping shallots, I buy the frozen ‘Cooks’ Ingredients Handful of Shallots’ from Waitrose, which simply require a quick shake out of the packet – much easier!

Inspired by…

My Waitrose magazine for the idea, a little Jamie Oliver for the approach and quite a lot of Cindy-meddling with the ingredients!

How easy…

Very, very easy but risotto takes time. Some good background music, someone to chat to in a warm kitchen with a cold glass of white wine produce perfect results!

 

Salmon with Sauce Verte and Garlicky Crushed New Potatoes

 

In this dish, the salmon is at its best – simply roasted with a little seasoning and a squeeze of lemon. But then you add the sauce verte, which has a summer-fresh piquancy about it and is the perfect foil to the fish. And finally, there are the potatoes: OMG – they are soooooooo yummy – we are having these with several more dishes over the next few weeks. The garlic-infused oil and milk mingling with the roughly crushed potatoes is a thing of loveliness as well as being really quite addictive! The whole thing together is a really easy, scrummy family supper dish.

Serves 4

What you need…

for the potatoes

12 new potatoes, washed

120ml milk

120ml olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

Large pinch of sea salt

for the sauce verte

50g spinach

50g watercress

50g flat leaf parsley, leaves only

A handful tarragon leaves

A handful basil leaves

150g crème fraiche

100g mayonnaise

Juice of 1 lemon

Sea salt and black pepper for seasoning

for the salmon

1 x baking sheet, lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

4 salmon fillets

Squeeze of lemon juice

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

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

For the potatoes, put all the ingredients into a saucepan, bring to the boil and then turn down low, pop a lid on, and cook gently for 20 – 25 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and infused with the garlicky oil: yum! Roughly crush the potatoes with a fork, taste and adjust seasoning according to your preference.

Whilst the potatoes are cooking, make the sauce verte and cook the fish. First, the sauce verte: bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch the spinach and watercress for 1 minute. Drain through a colander and then tip the vegetables into a bowl of iced water. Drain again and then put them into your food processor and blend with the herbs until fine. Add the crème fraiche, mayonnaise and lemon juice and whizz until bright green. Season, whizz, taste, season again if liked. Decant into a serving jug. Set aside.

For the salmon, put the fish on the baking tray, skin-side up. Pop in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Turn over, season and squeeze lemon juice over before returning to the oven for a further 5 minutes.

To serve, place a portion of the potatoes into the centre of each plate and place the salmon fillet on the top. Either drizzle, dot or spoon the sauce over the top or pass the jug around so that people can help themselves. Enjoy this lovely, light family supper dish – really scrummy!

Inspired by…

John Torode, Saturday Kitchen

How easy…

Really extremely easy – I love it when something so lovely takes so little effort!

 

 

 

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