Author Archives for Cindy Duffield

Scones with Strawberry Compote

I studied photography at a fabulous old mansion house called Woodley Hill House. It was run by a great team, who we all got to know really well and who helped us through the trials and tribulations of women in their 40s training in a new skill and getting overly emotional over exams. Anyway, each morning session was punctuated with tea break, for which we would all troop over from our classroom to the main house. The kitchen, in those days, was run by a lovely lady who had an absolute gift for making wonderful scones. I swore then that I would try to emulate them. This vow, coupled with the knowledge that John was legendary for making scones in his early teens, was put keenly into focus when I watched James Martin on Saturday Kitchen whip up these scones and ‘cheats jam’ in no time at all. So, this is my take on those. I can’t remember if they are as good as the college ones – probably not – they were to die for – and we’ll never know how they compare to John’s youthful offerings, but they’re pretty damned good and a cinch to make!

Makes 12 little ones (I figured they wouldn’t be so bad for the waistline if they were little!)

What you need…

5cm diametre cookie cutter

Baking sheet, lightly buttered

225g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

25g caster sugar

50g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

150ml whole milk

for the strawberry compote

250g strawberries, hulled and halved

100g jam sugar

60ml water

1 heaped teaspoon arrowroot

What to do…

For the strawberry compote, pop the strawberries, sugar and water in a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and, using a small balloon whisk, mix in the arrowroot. Set aside to cool.

To make your scones, use a roomy bowl to sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the sugar. Add the butter and using your fingertips, quickly rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add the milk, a little at a time, working to form a smooth dough. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 220°c / 425°f / gas 7.

Lightly flour your work surface (I cover my surface with cling film and then flour it – this means less cleaning up at the end as I just roll up the cling film complete with all the left over pastry bits and chuck the lot in the bin – job done!)

Roll out the dough until about 2cm thick. Using your cookie cutter, cut 12 scones out of the dough – avoid twisting the cutter to loosen the dough as this could result in uneven rising – just tap the dough out instead.

Place your scones on the baking tray and dust with flour.

Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until just starting to brown.

To serve your scones with strawberry compote, split the scones, lather with clotted cream and then dribble over the compote – delish!!!

Inspired by…

James Martin

How easy…

Very easy – I was most surprised!

 

 

 

 

 

Coq au Vin

 

This is an oldie but a goodie: rich and flavoursome – perfect for a winter supper. The basis for this recipe was pulled from my dad’s ‘Supercook’ collection. Anyone my age will remember this phenomenon that went through the very hot year that was 1976 through until 1979. The weekly (I think) magazines were collected and ultimately inserted proudly into the white and gold Supercook binders. My dad loved to cook and experiment and Supercook was the source of many of his weekend recipes. Try this one – it’s another of those that I love – you pop them in the oven and they finish themselves off whilst you make the kitchen tidy again.

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x baking dish (mine is 30cm x 20cm x 7cm deep)

10 – 12 chicken thighs

4 tablespoons flour, well seasoned with sea salt and black pepper

Splash of rapeseed oil

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

200g lean bacon, chopped

12 shallots

1 teacup parsley, chopped

2 bay leaves

½ bottle red wine

125ml boiling water

2 x Knorr chicken stock pots

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

200g button mushrooms, cleaned

What to do…

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

Make some chicken stock by popping the stock pots into a jug and then filling it to 125ml with boiling water, dissolving the stock evenly into the water using a balloon whisk.

Coat the chicken thighs with the seasoned flour.

Heat the oil in a deep-sided frying pan. Add the chicken and fry on a medium-high heat until gold brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken pieces and pop them into your baking dish – they’ll fit nice and snugly.

If the frying pan is dry, add another splash of oil and when hot, add the garlic, onion and bacon, frying gently until pale gold.

Stir in any leftover coating flour (this will make the sauce lovely and thick), and then add the shallots, parsley, bay leaves, wine and stock.

Bring to the boil, stirring, then taste. Season. Taste. When you’re happy, carry on.

Tip the mushrooms into the baking dish over the chicken and then pour over the sauce from the frying pan. Cover with foil and pop in the oven for 1 hour until the chicken is tender.

Serve your lovely Coq au Vin with green vegetables (we favour broccoli) and potato – baked or sautéed if you fancy. It’s lovely, definitely French and just perfect for a winter family supper! Enjoy!

Inspired by…

Supercook

How easy…

Very easy. The only bit I don’t like about this is the prep of the onions and shallots, which instigates a bout of violent sneezing and then mascara-ruining crying. But once that’s out the way, a simple but lovely dish!

Toad in the Hole

There’s nothing quite like it on a cold winter’s day, is there? Toad in the hole – with no soggy bottom – and a great gravy – sticks to the ribs and is soooooo warming and comforting. Our version has great mountainous sides, plunging into the sausagy middle – something easily attainable from the batter whisking and the use of suet. Whip it up, stick it in the oven and serve – great for an early-week supper, particularly as you can use the Sunday roast’s left over gravy to serve it with. Try as we have done in the past, we now tend to avoid accompanying vegetables – why spoil a naughty thing?!

Serves 4 hungry people

What you need…

1 x baking dish, lightly buttered (my usual dish is 30cm x 20cm x 7cm deep)

12 of your favourite sausages

275 g plain flour

4 eggs

300ml milk/Oatly if you’re cutting down on dairy

180ml water

Sea salt and black pepper

A good handful of suet

What to do…

Preheat oven to 220°c / 425°f / gas 7.

Pop the sausages into the baking dish and bake them on the middle shelf in the oven for 10-15 minutes until they are just starting to colour.

Using an electric mixer, whisk together the flour, eggs, milk, water, salt and pepper until there are no lumps and you have a lovely, smooth batter.

Whisk in the suet into the batter – just enough to get it incorporated (mix it for too long and you’ll beat out the raising agent).

Remove the sausages from the oven and quickly tip in the batter. Put it straight back in the oven and cook for 30-ish minutes, turning half way through to ensure and even bake. The batter should be golden, crispy around the edges and cooked properly through the middle; sausages good and brown poking through the batter.

Serve your fabulous winter toad in the hole immediately – huge great wedges for each lucky person. Ideally, top with the rich gravy left over from your Sunday Roast Dinner. Sit back at the end, patting the belly and pronounce that you can do nothing further for the rest of the day!

Tip…

If you don’t have any left over gravy available, this is my quick stop-gap version which does a fine job! For four people, tip 150g Bistro chicken gravy granules into the bottom of a large jug. Gradually add boiling water from a kettle, mixing in the granules evenly using a balloon whisk. Keep adding water until you have a gravy that is your preferred consistency (we like ours thick). Add a good glug of Pellegrino Marsala Superiore to the gravy and taste – maybe add a bit more. The Marsala adds a wonderful depth of flavour. If you have time, you can bring this to the boil in a saucepan and cook off the alcohol, but we never have and we’re all quite close to normal!

Inspired by…

John the husband and Delia Smith

How easy…

Ever so! A bit of whisking and then the oven does the rest. A perfect weekday meal!

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Amaretti Cake

A scrumptious moist cake that combines the sweetness of chocolate with the texture and bite of Amaretti biscuits and almonds and then delivers a hint of orange, delighting the taste buds! It keeps for days (in the unlikely event that every last divine morsel isn’t devoured in minutes) and is a cinch to make – created this morning in just a few minutes whilst still in PJs! Give it a whirl!

Serves 8 – 12

What you need…

1 x 20cm round spring-form cake tin, lightly buttered and the base lined with parchment paper

150g 70% dark chocolate

50g Amaretti biscuits

100g ground almonds

175g caster sugar

Zest of 1 orange, finely grated

100g room temperature butter, cut into cubes

4 eggs, beaten

Icing sugar for dusting

What to do…

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

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set in a steamer over simmering water.

Pop the Amaretti biscuits in a zip-lock food bag, seal and then crush the biscuits evenly using a rolling pin.

In a food processor, tip in the biscuits, ground almonds, caster sugar and orange zest and whizz until evenly blended. Add the butter and whizz to blend. Add the eggs gradually, processing the whole time. Then, add the melted chocolate and briefly whizz again until blended.

Tip the mixture into your cake tin and pop your chocolate Amaretti cake mixture into the oven, baking for 35 minutes or until the cake is puffed up and slightly cracked around the edges.

Remove from the oven and leave to sit for 15 minutes before carefully transferring to plate/cake stand. Dust the crisp top with icing sugar and serve, with an espresso, a glass of Disaronno liqueur or just on its own. Divine, but I might have already mentioned that!

 Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

 How easy…

Ever so!

Fabulous Fish Thermidor

I have my wonderful friend, Helen, to thank for this dish. She produced it at a girls’ lunch and we all demanded copies of the recipe! It is really luscious and spectacularly easy to make. It can also be made in advance and re-heated. It tastes like a treat but is inexpensive to make – what’s not to like? Recreated at home, this is now on the list of ‘regular supper dishes’.

Serves 6

What you need…

1 x baking dish (mine is 30cm x 20cm x 7cm deep)

800g hake, skinned, filleted and cut into 3cm-ish chunks

45g butter

45g flour, sieved

750ml milk/Oatly alternative (to reduce dairy content)

Sea salt and black pepper

Splash rapeseed/olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

300g white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

100ml tomato purée

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

125g Manchego/Cheddar cheese, grated

4 teaspoons brandy

225g raw jumbo king prawns (optional)

What to do…

Preheat oven to 170°c / 325°f / gas 3.

Tip the milk into a medium saucepan and, on a medium heat, gently poach the fish chunks for five minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the fish from the milk and set aside.

In a separate saucepan, melt the butter. Tip in the flour and quickly stir it in. Remove the pan from the heat and, using a ladle, slowly add your hot milk, stirring in each ladleful before adding the next.

Return the white sauce to the heat and cook until smooth and thickened. Season and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan and add the onion and mushrooms, frying gently until soft. Then, increase the heat to remove any moisture. Add the white sauce together with the tomato purée, mustard, cheese, brandy and the fish. Season with salt and pepper.

Turn the mixture into your baking dish, cover and pop in the oven to heat through for about 30 minutes. Wash up your three pans and relax. A delectably delicious dish awaits!

Fabulous fish thermidor is, as the name suggests, fabulous as it is, but if you wanted to add a little luxurious dimension, open the oven after 15 minutes and stir in your raw prawns. Cook for a further 15 minutes or until the prawns are pink.

Serving suggestion…

Steamed cabbage and leek work really well with a baked potato or basmati and wild rice (a current favourite!)

A bit about Manchego…

Manchego cheese has recently been recommended to me by my lovely friend, Jean. It is a cheesemade in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of the Manchego sheep breed. Official Manchego cheese is to be aged for between 60 days and two years, hence it is a little expensive. However, it is soooooooo worth it – absolutely delicious. Having grated enough for the recipe, there was then quite a lot of cheese-snacking to be done whilst preparing the dish. The cheese has a distinctive flavour, well developed but not too strong, creamy with a slight piquancy. I would urge you to try it!

Inspired by…

Lynn Bedford Hall, The Creative Cuisine (thank you again Helen for introducing me to this old but genuinely inspirational book).

How easy…

Wonderfully! I love these dishes that finish themselves off in the oven, while I quickly tidy up the pots and pans and treat myself to a glass of red!

 

Poached Egg with Asparagus and Parma Ham

 

You know how sometimes the ridiculously simple can be stunningly good – this little recipe fits that description. I can’t give you exact measurements because this is definitely one that is defined by your individual taste and appetite. Bottom line though, it’s a gorgeous little indulgent lunch or starter that you can knock out in no time and will knock your socks off! This version of poaching an egg is also fabulous, creates no washing up and is failsafe (dare I say it!)

Serves 1

What you need…

A few slices of Parma Ham, up to you; it depends how much you fancy

A few asparagus spears, again as much as you fancy

1 Large Egg

Parmesan, grated, again the amount depends on your taste

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

On your worktop, layout out one 30cm square piece of cling film. Lay another, the same size on top. (The size is a rough guide). Rub a teaspoon of olive oil all over the middle of the top piece. Pick up the double cling film layers gently push into a teacup. Break your egg into the cling film and then pick up the corners and edges of the cling film layers and tie in a knot so that you egg is in a little cling film bundle. Pop into a saucepan of boiling water, turn down the heat to medium and simmer for 5-6 minutes.

Take the asparagus and cut the hard ends off (usually about half of the spear) and pop them into a separate shallow pan of boiling, salted water. Boil for about 4 minutes – test one to see if it’s cooked to your liking. Drain in a colander.

Arrange the Parma ham and cooked asparagus on a plate.

Cut your poached egg ‘bundle’ just below the knot and tip the egg out onto the Parma ham and asparagus.

Season with Parmesan, salt and pepper. Break open the egg and watch with delight as the yolk dribbles all over the asparagus and ham. For maximum enjoyment, try a bit of everything with each forkful. Serve with toasted Italian bread – Pane Pugliese (very crispy). Altogether poached egg with asparagus and Parma ham can be described as very yummy!

Inspired by…

The poached egg is Jamie Oliver’s. The dish itself is just kinda out there I think.

How easy…

About as easy as it gets!

 

 

Leek and Potato Soup with Nutmeg and Truffle Oil

 You know those drab winter days when you want to dress down in all your cosiest clothes and snuggle up in an overstuffed armchair next to a roaring fire? This is the soup for those days! Lacking the armchair and fire, this soup still cheers me up. The wholesomeness of the vegetables is made slightly less virtuous with the addition of a little truffle oil and the nutmeg gives it a gentle, warming kick.

 Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

 Splash of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and roughly sliced

2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped

400g leeks, trimmed and roughly sliced

1 apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped

400g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

1.8 litres boiling water

2 chicken stock pots (I use Knorr)

Sea salt and black pepper

½ grated fresh nutmeg

A little drizzle of truffle oil (I use Carluccio’s Olio al Tartufo Bianco)

What to do…

To make your leek and potato soup with nutmeg and truffle oil, splash a little olive oil into a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the garlic. Then add the carrots, onions and leeks. Mix together with a wooden spoon and leave on the heat for around 10 minutes with the lid askew.

Pop your stock pots into a big jug and add a little water – maybe 400ml and then use a balloon whisk to dissolve the stock pots into the water. Top the jug up with boiling water to 1.8 litres.

Pour the stock into the saucepan with your vegetables and then add the potatoes and apple. Stir and then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on.

Pour the soup into your food processor jug (you will probably have to divide it into two as the jug doesn’t have the capacity for all of the soup). Add the nutmeg and whizz until smooth and then return to the saucepan. Taste. Season. Taste. Season. When you’re happy with the taste, serve into homely mugs or sophisticate bowls – whatever takes your fancy. Drizzle a little truffle oil on the top and……relax and enjoy your winter-warming soup.

Tips…

This gorgeous truffle oil comes in a tiny (55ml) bottle and IS expensive, but a little goes a very, very long way and it will last for ages. It’s worth having in the cupboard – I use it to take dishes from the really quite ordinary to the really rather indulgent!

I’m recommending the Cooks’ Ingredients frozen, chopped garlic from Waitrose. No peeling or chopping, just a quick shake into the pan and then back in the freezer.

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver

How easy…

A bit of chopping, a bit of boiling and a bit of whizzing – very easy and done in a flash

 

Christmas Mincemeat and Mince Pies

Before this blog, it had never occurred to me to make either my own mincemeat or my own pastry. The latter happened for the first time last week and as for mincemeat – I am a total convert. It’s spectacularly simple and fills the house with festive fragrance as it gently cooks in the oven. I did struggle with the pastry (too short apparently, according to John – the pastry, not me!) but wow! I can honestly say that these mince pies are the best I’ve ever tasted – it’s not my cooking, but the fantastic recipes!

for the mincemeat

Makes 2.75kg (6 – 7 jars, I used a collection of different sized jam jars!)

What you need…

450g cooking apples, cored, left unpeeled and chopped small

225g suet

350g raisins

225g sultanas

225g currants

150g cranberries

225g candied peel, finely chopped

350g soft dark brown sugar

Grated zest and juice of 2 oranges

Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

50g flaked almonds

4 teaspoons ground mixed spice

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

6 tablespoons brandy/cognac

for the sweet shortcrust pastry (makes about 12 mince pies)

1 x 12-hole tartlet tin, lightly buttered

125g unsalted butter

65g icing sugar

1 egg yolk

250g plain flour

1 – 2 teaspoons water

for the finish

1 egg, lightly beaten

icing sugar to dust

What to do to make the mincemeat…

The evening before you want to cook the mincemeat, combine everything, except the brandy/cognac, in a large casserole, stirring the ingredients in as you add them to make sure that they are thoroughly mixed. Pop the lid on and leave in a cool place overnight to allow the flavours to gather.

The following morning, preheat the oven to 120°c / 225°f / gas ¼.

Pop the casserole, with its lid on, into the oven and cook for 3 hours.

Remove from the oven and over the next few hours, whilst it is cooling, give it a little stir every now and then to make sure that the now melted suet is evenly distributed and coating the other ingredients, rather than being separate.

When it’s cold, stir in the brandy and spoon into clean jars with lids/seals. Keep your Christmas mincemeat in a cool, dark cupboard until you are ready to make your mince pies.

What to do to make your mince pies…

Mix together the butter and icing sugar until they are completely blended. Add the egg yolk and then the flour. Kneed until you have a smooth dough. If you’re struggling to get it to stick together, add a little water and continue to knead. Leave to rest for at least 1 hour before using.

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

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a little less than 5mm thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out 12 rounds slightly larger than the tartlet moulds for the pie bottoms and gently push them in. Fill them with mincemeat. Using a cookie cutter 2 sizes smaller than the first, cut another 12 rounds for the lids. Brush a little beaten egg around the edges of the lids and stick them to the top of the mince pies. Brush with little more egg and then, using a sharp knife, cut a little hole in the top of each one to allow the steam to escape during cooking.

Bake for around 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Transfer to a cooling rack and when cool, sprinkle liberally with icing sugar.

Take a bite and absolutely relish the abundant gorgeousness of these festive treats – a good reason to have Christmas all year around! Once you’ve made your first Christmas mincemeat and mince pies, you’ll never revert to shop-bought again!

Tip…

Ideally, make your mincemeat in October/November. Stored in a cool place, it will keep for months and just needs to be brought out whenever you fancy a quick batch of festive loveliness!

Inspired by…

Team effort here: mincemeat by Delia Smith; pastry from Raymond Blanc

How Easy…

On the mincemeat, very little effort for such a lovely outcome. I nearly gave up on the pastry as it kept falling apart when I stuck to the original recipe. The addition of a little water resolved the issue and it was worth persevering.

 

 

Chicken with Mushrooms and Soured Cream

I did this for friends who were coming to supper. The original plan was to have fish but their son, Ali (you know who you are!) doesn’t eat fish so our planned meal had to be quickly revised. I found this recipe and just wasn’t sure about the soy sauce and sherry thing going on – I couldn’t imagine how it was all going to taste. Persuaded by John and the fact that we had all the ingredients, I went ahead, somewhat apprehensively. Imagine my delight when it turned out simply wonderfully. My only problem that evening was that I hadn’t cooked enough – we all wanted seconds. Never one to be accused of small portions, the following recipe will feed four hungry people. Try it, love it and add it to your autumn and winter favourites list!

 Serves 4

 What you need…

 1 large baking dish (mine is 30cm x 20cm x 7cm deep)

1 kg chicken thighs

2 teaspoons paprika

Splash rapeseed oil

Sea salt and black pepper

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 tablespoons plain flour

500ml hot chicken stock (I dissolved 2 Knorr stock pots into 500ml water)

300g brown mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

150g wild mushrooms, rinsed

5 teaspoons sweet sherry

4 teaspoons soy sauce

125ml soured cream

 What to do…

Preheat oven to 170°c / 325°f/ gas 3.

Lightly butter (going off the word ‘grease’) your baking dish.

Sprinkle the paprika evenly over the chicken thighs.

Heat the oil in a large, deep-sided frying pan and fry the chicken on both sides until lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove to the baking dish, fitting them in together snugly in a single layer. Season lightly.

To the frying pan juices, add the onion and garlic and sauté lightly. Tip in the flour and mix it in evenly. Slowly add the hot stock, stirring continuously. When thickened, remove from the heat and then add the mushrooms, sherry and soy sauce. Add the soured cream slowly (to avoid curdling).

Pour over the chicken and bake, uncovered, for 90 minutes or until the sauce is a lovely, thick and bronzed. It’s quite simply gorgeous!

Serving suggestion…

Chicken with mushrooms and soured cream goes really well with boiled, seasoned basmati and wild rice

 Inspired by…

Lynn Bedford Hall, New Creative Cuisine and Helen, who introduced me to this old but fabulous book.

 How easy…

Really, really easy with the added benefit that you can clear up the cooking pots whist it does it’s thing in the oven – very relaxed cooking for superb results.

Marmalade Bread and Butter Pudding

This delightful bread and butter pudding is based on the classic version but all dressed up! A gorgeous crunchy, slightly zesty top contrasts wonderfully with the soft, fluffy inside of light custard-soaked bread. So simple and so spectacular – it should definitely be a regular on the winter menu.

Serves 4 – 6

What you need…

18 x 23cm baking dish, about 5cm deep, lightly buttered

6 slices bread from a large loaf

50g softened butter

2 rounded tablespoons thick cut orange marmalade

60ml milk (or Oatly if you want to cut down on dairy)

60ml double cream

3 large eggs

75g sugar

1 tablespoon demerara sugar

25g candied peel, finely chopped

What to do…

Pre-heat oven to 180°c / 350° f / gas 4.

Generously butter the bread slices on one side, then spread the marmalade over three of them and put the other three slices on top, effectively creating marmalade sandwiches. Spread the rest of the butter across the top slice of each sandwich and cut each one into quarters to make little triangles.

Arrange the sandwiches, butter side up, overlapping each other and almost standing upright in the baking dish.

Whisk the milk, cream, eggs and sugar together and pour the mixture over the bread, ensuring that all the bread is moistened. Scatter the candied peel over the top with demerara sugar. Pop in the oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes until it’s puffy and golden – the smell as it’s cooking is absolutely divine.

Serve your marmalade bread and butter pudding straight away, perhaps with a little double cream.

I then leave what’s left over on the worktop to cool down before it goes in the fridge for the next day. However, the fact that I leave a teaspoon in it as well means that very little actually makes it to the fridge – it’s just too tempting!

 Tip…

Try different breads, rather than just plain white, especially those with added fruit.

 Inspired by…

Delia Smith

 How easy…

It couldn’t be easier: make a few marmalade sandwiches, a bit of whisking, a smidge of scattering and the job’s done!

 

1 31 32 33 35