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Panfried Scallops with Black Pudding and Ginger Palm Sugar Chutney

Ooooooooh, what a treat! The scallops and the black pudding are a marriage made in heaven; a little of each together with a forkful of streaky bacon and then just a tad of ginger chutney – just sublime! This would make an incredible starter. For us, I used enough ingredients for just two and then four of us grabbed forks and just dived in. A great way of experimenting and this one is a dish that will definitely be repeated……a proper portion each next time! The ginger chutney, by the way, is divine – fresh and piquant – and there is enough here to keep the left over in the fridge to serve as a foil for other really savoury dishes.

Serves 2

What you need…

1 x baking tray, lined with Bake O Glide or greaseproof paper

Splash olive/rapeseed oil

6 scallops

6 slices black pudding

2 rashers good quality streaky bacon

100g baby spinach

for the ginger and palm sugar chutney

100g fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

100ml water

2 cloves

100ml palm sugar

What to do…

Starting with the chutney, pop the ginger into a small saucepan with the water and cloves. Bring to the boil and then turn down and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Remove the cloves and add the sugar and dissolve. Set aside until cool. Tip into your blender and whizz until the ginger is reduced to small chunks. Job done – put into a screw-top jar – you’ll have loads left over after you’ve assembled your dish – which can be stored in the fridge for an accompaniment to other dishes

Put your slices of black pudding onto the baking tray and pop under a hot grill, cooking for 4 minutes. Flip them and cook for a further four minutes.

Whilst that’s going on, in a medium-sized frying pan, heat the oil over a moderate heat and add the scallops, cooking for 2 minutes on one side before turning over for another 2 minutes. When you turn over the scallops, add your rashers of bacon to the pan, keeping your scallops to one side of the pan and your bacon to the other. Using a fork, keep flipping the bacon until its cooked and crispy on both sides – about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, tip in a tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt as well as the spinach. Pop on the lid, whack up the heat to high and wilt the spinach – it should take no longer than 5 minutes to come to temperature and wilt (maybe quicker if you have a gas hob). Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to assemble the dish.

For each person, arrange on the plate a line of spinach leaves. Top with a row of black pudding slices and scallops, alternating them as you go. On the very top, lay a rasher of streaky bacon. In front, or around your scallops and black pudding drizzle the fabulous ginger and palm sugar chutney. Serve your panfried scallops with black pudding and ginger palm sugar chutney and watch the faces of delight! Gorgeous!

Inspired by…

James Martin, Home Comforts

How Easy…

Really easy, especially as the dish looks and tastes so spectacular!

 

 

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties with Whisky Sauce and Asparagus Parcels

Burns Night Supper! Over the years, we’ve been to many a Burns night bash and the food has ranged from appalling to mediocre – rarely better than that. And until this evening, I always thought that whisky was harsh and horrible: a horror that needed to be dispensed with in the name of tradition as fast as possible. Tonight however, we stayed in and did this fabulous take on the Burns Night fare. The haggis dish was waaaaaaay better than I could possibly have hoped for and met with considerable enthusiasm all around the table. We are DEFINITELY having this again – I would recommend it highly, Burns Night or not. And then there was the whisky. I unearthed a bottle that has remained untouched since John’s 60th birthday and WOW! sheer nectar. That said, it was a Knockando Single Malt, aged 12 years. It was a gift – I’m not looking up the cost but it finished off this delightful meal perfectly!

Serves 4

What you need…

for the asparagus parcels

One flat baking tray, lightly oiled

8 asparagus spears, trimmed

2 slices prosciutto di parma

Sea salt and black Pepper

Just a little Parmesan cheese, grated

for the whisky sauce

Knob butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 tablespoons whisky (any old blended, not the Knockando!!!)

2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard

200ml water

1 beef stock pot (I use Knorr)

80ml double cream

Sea salt and black pepper for seasoning

for the haggis

1 x cookie cutter (slightly larger than the diametre of the haggis) lightly oiled

1 Haggis (I love the ‘Simon Howie, the Scottish Butcher’, it’s slightly spicy and very yummy).

8 potatoes, peeled and halved

125g butter

Splash milk

4 turnips, peeled and halved

6 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

What to do…

To prepare the asparagus parcels, poach the asparagus in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and cool to the point that they are easy to handle.

Lay out one slice of Parma ham. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Parmesan and then cut in half lengthways.

Using one ‘half slice’ of Parma ham, place two asparagus spears at one end and roll up so the Parma ham is the wrapping around your asparagus. Place on your baking tray. Repeat with the remaining asparagus and Parma ham so that you have four asparagus bundles – one each – they’re just a garnish, really.

Pop them in the fridge until you are nearly ready to serve.

You can also pre-prepare the sauce. Using a balloon whisk dissolve the stock pot into the water. Set aside. Melt the butter over a moderate heat and gently fry the shallots for 10 minutes. Add the wholegrain mustard and mix in well. Pour in the beef stock and bring to the boil. Add the whisky, boil for another minute to remove the alcohol and then turn the heat down and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then gradually stir in the cream. Set aside until nearly ready to serve.

To cook the haggis, follow the boiling instruction that comes with it. In my case, it is simply to pop the haggis into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 45 minutes – couldn’t be easier.

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

In one saucepan, bring your potatoes to the boil in salted water and then simmer for 20 minutes or until soft. Likewise, in another saucepan, bring your turnips and carrots to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes or until soft.

To the potatoes, add 75g butter and the splash of milk and either mash or use a handheld electric whisk to cream the potatoes. Taste and season until it suits you. Pop the lid on to keep warm.

To the turnips and carrot, add 50g butter and similarly, mash or cream with a whisk. Taste and season until it suits you. Pop the lid on to keep warm.

Pop your asparagus in the oven for 4-5 minutes whilst you assemble the dish.

Put your whisky sauce on a moderate heat to warm through.

Drain the haggis and cut it into nice chunky slices.

For each serving, place your cookie cutter, in the centre of the plate and squash into it the creamed potato, filling the cookie cutter two thirds of the way up. Top up with the turnip and carrot mixture. Gently lift the cookie cutter away, wipe over with kitchen roll and run olive oil around the inside again with your finger and repeat the process for each of the other servings. Top your stacks with a chunky slice of haggis and then an asparagus parcel.

Pour the sauce into a jug and serve at the table. Enjoy this wonderful dish of haggis, neeps and tatties with whisky sauce and asparagus parcels with or without any of the other traditions. We just needed an excuse to find a great haggis recipe – enjoy!

Tip…

Rather than finely chopping shallots, I use Cooks’ Ingredients Handful of Chopped Shallots. Frozen and in a foil bag, I just shake into the saucepan roughly the right quantity – dead easy!

Inspired by…

Well…. a bit of a collection of ideas thrown together. I saw an image of one version of the ‘stack’ on the Ocado website and that was enough to get me going. I already had the recipe for the asparagus parcels (previously blogged as a canapé) and the sauce is my own – made up on the spur of the moment and I have to say, rather lovely!

How easy…

Very easy! All the elements kinda cook themselves. I like that the prep on the asparagus and sauce can be done in advance so you’re not juggling like crazy at the end.

Truly Scrumptious Salted Caramel Ice Cream

I’ve never made ice cream before but somewhere down the line I’ve acquired an ice-cream maker. However, when I decided to try out this recipe I didn’t realise that the bowl had to be put in the freezer 24 hours beforehand! So, this one was done by hand and having done it once this way, I’m afraid that the machine is back where it came from, at the back of the cupboard. This ice cream is an absolute cinch to make and tastes truly scrumptious! Not only that, but it’s quite a soft ice cream, so if you have a bit of craving for ice-cream NOW, there’s no waiting about whilst it softens enough to scoop. So, this first attempt will be quickly followed by a second, third, fourth…try it and enjoy!

Serves 6 – 8 (unless you keep it secret, in which case just the 1!)

What you need…

170g caster sugar

225ml double cream

150ml milk

4 egg yolks

½ teaspoon sea salt

What you do…

Place a medium sized saucepan on a high heat and add 140g of the caster sugar. Heat, shaking the pan occasionally until the sugar melts into a rich caramel colour.

Take off the heat and slowly add the double cream, using a balloon whisk to incorporate it into the sugar. Bring back to the boil. Pour in the milk, again whisking in.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl use an electric hand-held whisk to beat together the egg yolks and remaining 30g caster sugar until you have a pale, mousse-like mixture. Pour the hot caramel into the bowl and whisk the lot together. Set aside to cool down.

Add the salt to the cooled mixture and pour it all into a deep plastic bowl and pop it in your freezer.

After 45 minutes, take it out of the freezer and whisk vigorously using your electric hand-held whisk – it will have started to freeze around the edges – break up the frozen sections and return to the freezer.

Repeat this process another three times at 45-minute intervals and then leave it – it should be ready within 4 hours of first going in the freezer.

Take a spoon or scoop and delve in to check your handiwork – truly scrumptious is the best that I can come up with but that doesn’t cover it – delectable, delicious, delightful…I could go on but really, you just need to try your own truly scrumptious salted caramel ice cream!

Serving suggestion…

Amazing with little sticky toffee puddings, scrumptious chocolate brownies (both on previous blogs) or, as in the picture here, with brandy snaps (recipe to follow) or… on it’s own – just you, the spoon and the ice cream!

Inspired by…

Another foodie blogger: A Spoonful of Sugar (www.aspoonfulofsugarblog.com)

How easy…

Sooooooooo easy, just don’t forget that it’s in the freezer for whisking part!

 

Little Sticky Toffee Puddings with Naughty, Decadent Sauce

Soooooo gorgeous, sooooo yummy, soooooo bad for you! Well, in reality I guess the puddings aren’t that bad but the sauce!!!! Simply melt together butter, cream and sugar – that says it all. Oh, and there’s also the ice cream that we like to serve them with – that’s not healthy either, but what a heavenly combination. Like many desserts, it is after all the naughty element that tempts us, making them an absolute treat. These are a real winter favourite in our house. Give them a go, and they will be in your house too!

What you need…

8 x 175g metal pudding basins, thoroughly buttered and with a little round of greaseproof paper in the bottom.

1 x baking tray

175g stoned, chopped dates

175ml boiling water

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

2 teaspoons coffee essence (I use Camp)

¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

75g butter, at room temperature

150g caster sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

175g self-raising flour, sifted

for the naughty sauce

175g soft brown sugar

110g butter

6 tablespoons double cream

What to do…

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

Begin by putting the chopped dates in a bowl and pouring the 175ml boiling water over them. Add the vanilla, coffee essence and bicarbonate of soda and leave on one side. Next, in a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric hand whisk until the mixture is pale, light and fluffy.

Gradually add the beaten egg, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. After that, carefully and lightly fold in the sifted flour, using a metal spoon. Then, fold in the date mixture, including the liquid.

Right now, it’ll look really sloppy – that’s fine: it’s supposed to. Divide the mixture equally between the eight pudding basins. Place on a baking tray and pop in the oven for 25 minutes.

When cooked, leave to cool for five minutes. Slide a small palette knife around each pudding and turn it out. If they’ve risen too much, you may need to lop off the tops so that they will sit evenly on the plate when you turn them (which means you get to sample the sponge – yipppeee: chef’s privileges.

Place the puddings into a shallow baking tray.

Next, make the sauce by tipping all the ingredients into a saucepan and very gently heating them until the sugar has completely dissolved.

To serve, pre-heat the grill to a medium-high setting and pour the sauce over the wee puddings. Place under grill so the tops of the puddings are about 13cm from the heat and let them warm through for five minutes (keep an eye on them: different grills pump out different heats and you don’t want them to burn). The tops should go slightly crunchy and the sauce will be hot and bubbling

Serve your little sticky toffee puddings with naughty, decadent sauce either with double cream or salted caramel ice-cream (recipe to follow later this week). Simply, to die for!

Serving suggestion…

We were given a bottle of Monbazillac, Chateau Peyronnette, 2014, by my cousin’s hubby-to-be, Matt, when they stayed in the run up to Christmas. When I tried this wine with the sticky toffee puddings, it took them from being ‘sodding incredible’ (with the ice cream) to ‘wow! Just wow!’ with the wine!!! Just fabulous!!! One of those experiences without which life just isn’t complete!

Tips….

This recipe is for eight puddings. I always make eight and then freeze those not required at that time in their moulds, which just leaves you to decide how much of the naughty sauce you make – totally yummy, I can eat this by the spoonful…without the puddings! Really, very naughty but wickedly good.

So, for two people: 60g soft brown sugar, 40g butter, 3 tablespoons double cream; for four people: 120g soft brown sugar, 80g butter, 6 tablespoons double cream.

Inspired by…

My friend, Helen, who served them to us at supper one evening and of course, Delia Smith, whose fabulous and ingredient-stained ‘Christmas’ cookery book contains the original recipe, un-tinkered-with.

Stilton and Port

Completely stuffed after Christmas Day but still we eat as the fridge abounds with treats. This one is my favourite – the perfect pairing – Stilton and port!

Serves 1 very happy person

What you need…

1 large slice of good quality Stilton (we schedule an annual trip to Fortnum & Mason, specifically to facilitate this)

1 bottle of late bottled vintage port

What to do…

Remove Stilton from fridge at least an hour before you want to indulge. Place it on attractive plate or slate: there needs to be some ceremony and decorum for the King of English Cheeses.

When ready, pour a good snifter of port. Take a bite of Stilton and enjoy the unique combination of delicious creaminess with the soft piquancy provided by the blue. Take a sip of Port and indulge in the simple but fabulous combination of the two ingredients. So much more together than merely the sum of two parts. Eat and sip, savouring every decadent moment of your Stilton and port. Ideal fare for a Boxing Day snack!

Inspired by…

Decades of tradition, certainly in our house

How easy…

Mastering the art of simply savouring, indulging and relaxing in this simple treat is perhaps the most difficult element to the whole thing – I recommend practice!

 

 

Anglo Italian Trifle

If one could describe a dessert as voluptuous in flavour and totally indulgent, this would be it. Amaretti and sweetened mascarpone rather than cream give this trifle an Italian twist, something which is emphasised by the Limoncello that it is laced with. Definitely naughty but difficult to say no to a second helping. This Anglo Italian Trifle is best enjoyed with a group of rowdy, hedonistic friends after a dribbly lunch or dinner or as the perfect alternative (or addition) to Christmas Pudding.

Serves 12

What you need…

1 x pretty, 2-litre glass trifle bowl

8 trifle sponges

1 jar of blackcurrant jam

100g Amaretti biscuits, plus a handful for the topping

300ml Limoncello

600g frozen fruits, defrosted: summer fruits work well

2 eggs, separated

100g caster sugar

750g mascarpone cheese

What to do…

Split the trifle sponges and make into sandwiches with the jam; then wodge them into your trifle bowl. Crush the Amaretti biscuits in your hand and sprinkle them all over the trifle sponges then pour over 180ml Limoncello.

Tip the fruit over the sponges and Amaretti, perhaps arranging the bigger attractive fruit around the edges – for presentation purposes – you’ll be able to see them through the glass.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Put to one side.

In a large bowl, use an electric whisk to whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar until the mixture is thick and smooth . Still whisking, slowly add 60ml of Limoncello, creating a light, moussey mixture. Whisk in the mascarpone until everything is smoothly combined. Add the remaining Limoncello and give the mixture a final whiz with the electric whisk. Tip in the egg white and fold in with a balloon whisk – this makes the mascarpone ‘cream’ lovely and airily light.

Dollop the mascarpone ‘cream’ on top of the fruit and gently, spread it a little, creating little soft peaks.

Cover the trifle and and pop in the fridge overnight, allowing all the flavours to gather and the Limoncello to permeate the fruit, sponges and Amaretti, mingling with the fruit to create sheer yumminess.

About one hour before you want to plunge the spoon into your delectable dessert, take it out of the fridge to come to room temperature. Just before serving, crush the remaining Amaretti biscuits and scatter over the top of the trifle. (We have also decorated our with birthday candles and made it a very special birthday cake). Your Anglo Italian Trifle is now ready to be demolished! Just gorgeous!

Tips…

Change the fruit to reflect the season.

Keep tasting the mascarpone cream as you add the Limoncello – I like my trifles quite boozy – you may want a little less alcohol….or perhaps a tad more!

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

Dead easy: no cooking, more of an assembly job with a bit of whisking but it looks and tastes spectacular!

Lovely, Comforting Lasagne

Sooooo lovely and comforting, both to make and to eat – this is such a lovely family supper dish

Serves 6

What you need…

Ovenproof dish (mine is 20cm x 30cm)

Splash of olive oil

1 kg minced beef

500g minced lamb

150g mozzarella, torn up

A handful of fresh sage leaves

Lasagne sheets, fresh or dried (enough to cover your ovenproof dish three times)

for the tomato sauce

Splash of olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary

3 bay leaves

2 x 400g tins of chopped Italian tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato puree

for the white sauce

1 litre milk

Pinch nutmeg

½ onion, peeled and sliced

Small handful black peppercorns

80g butter

60g plain flour, sieved

120g – 150g grated fresh Parmesan

Sea salt & black pepper

What to do…

Heat a large, deep frying pan with a splash of olive oil. Slowly fry the garlic until lightly coloured, then add the rosemary, bay leaves, tomatoes and tomato puree. Cook gently for 45 minutes with the lid on.

Add the meat to your tomato mixture and simmer for 20 minutes, creating a tomato and meat ragu.

Meanwhile, put the milk, nutmeg, onion and black peppercorns into a medium sized saucepan and bring gently to the boil. Melt the butter in a third saucepan (large) and tip in the flour. Mix well to form the beginning of a roux sauce (it will look like a glossy ball). Gradually add the flavoured milk – one ladle at a time and through a sieve (you don’t want all the peppercorns and onions in there), stirring it well until you have a thick, smooth white sauce. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes, then take off the heat and add Parmesan and seasoning.

Remove the rosemary and bay leaves from the tomato and meat ragu.

Preheat the oven to 180c / 350 f / gas 4 and butter a large baking dish.

Cover the bottom of the dish with lasagne sheets. Then cover with a thin layer of your ragu. Then cover with a thin layer of the white sauce. Repeat with a further two sets of layers – pasta, ragu and white sauce – ending with white sauce. Scatter over the torn mozzarella and sage leaves.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and let your lovely, comforting lasagne settle for maybe 10 minutes. Serve with a fabulous, robust bottle of Italian wine.

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver

How easy…

It is easy but does take time: you need to be in the right mood. Choose your music, open a nice bottle of red and enjoy the process. The cooking smells are wonderful and definitely contribute to the enjoyment of this dish. There are however loads of pans to wash up but….it’s worth it! I wash them whilst the lasagne is in the oven so that when I sit down, I’m totally relaxed.

 

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