Out of the kitchen and onto the beach….again

So, today my jobs included sorting out a long-term battle with Paypal, loads of boring admin, some cleaning, typing up a fab recipe for Tornedos Rossini (steak with unbelievable sauce!) but….instead we took the dog to West Wittering beach and then sat outside ‘Billy’s on the Beach’ enjoying local crab open sandwiches and a glass of wine…..gotta love the sunshine and how the beach corrects my priorities! Will blog the recipe tomorrow I promise – apparently it’s forecast to rain! xx

Fennel and Feta Linguine

OK, so the image might not excite but this is a totally gorgeous, light, relaxing dish and is comforting and flavoursome. A perfect supper dish that is quick and easy to make and combines the lovely sweet, fried flavours of the fennel and shallot with tangy, salty earthiness of the feta.

Serves 4

What you need…

400g linguine (I use gluten-free as it’s lighter on my old tummy)

Splash of rapeseed oil

2 fennel bulbs, peeled and sliced

2 shallots, peeled and sliced

A generously large handful of basil leaves, torn

200g feta cheese

What to do…

Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling, salted water in accordance with the packet instructions – my takes around 12 minutes.

In a large saucepan, warm the oil over a moderate heat and then sauté the fennel and shallot until soft.

Scatter over the basil and crumble in the feta.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and then tip into the shallot mixture. Stir thoroughly but gently, mixing all the ingredients together.

Enjoy this perfectly lovely supper, perhaps with a glass of cold, crisp white wine on the side. Simply delightful!

Inspired by…

Nigel Slater

How easy…

So very, very easy and it takes no time at all.

 

 

Lemon, Lime and Passion Fruit Curd Tart

Wow! This is unbelievably delicious – the crisp, sweet pastry is the perfect foil for the tangy, zesty freshness of the fruit filling that seems to shout ‘sunshine’! It’s uplifting and quite simply sensational – don’t wait until Summer – we enjoyed it in February the first time but….it will be revisited many times over!

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

1 x 23cm fluted tart tin, with removable base, liberally buttered

Baking beans (rice or dried pulses will work equally as well)

for the pastry

110g unsalted butter, at room temperature

60g caster sugar

130g plain flour

60g semolina

for the fabulous citrus curd filling

230g caster sugar

Finely grated zest and juice of 3 lemons, separating the juice of ½ lemon

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes

4 large, happy eggs plus a further 4 yolks, lightly beaten

200g unsalted butter, chunked and at room temperature

Pulp from 3 passion fruit

1 gelatine sheet (I used Costa fine leaf)

80g full fat cream cheese

50g icing sugar

What to do…

First to the pastry: in your food processor, whizz together the butter and sugar until smooth, pale and fluffy. Tip in the flour and semolina and whizz to combine. Tip out onto your work surface and briefly work into a dough. Grate the dough into your tart tin and then press evenly into the base and up the sides. Pop into the freezer for 1 hour. Walk off and do something else.

Then, heat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Line the chilled pastry case with foil and fill with baking beans. Bake for 25 minutes then remove the foil and beans and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, let’s turn to the delicious filling. In a large saucepan over a moderate heat, warm the caster sugar, juice from 2½ lemons as well as juice from both limes and also all the zest from both the lemons and limes. Heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Turn the heat down to low and then gradually pour in the beaten eggs, using a balloon whisk the whole time to prevent curdling. Continue to heat and whisk for 10 minutes or until a thick curd has been formed.

Remove from the heat and add the butter, a couple of chunks at a time, whisking them in until they are melted and fully incorporated before adding in the next couple. Once all the butter has been added, stir in the passion fruit – it is this that gives this tart its extra gorgeous dimension.

Whilst you’re adding the butter, soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Remove the gelatine from the water and squeeze out the excess liquid. Empty the bowl of its water and put the gelatine back in, adding to it 3 tablespoons of the citrus curd mixture. Using your balloon whisk beat the lot together until the gelatine has dissolved. Return this lot to your saucepan of curd and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cream cheese, juice of ½ lemon and icing sugar (again, a little balloon whisk works well).

Pour the curd into the pastry tart and then use a teaspoon to plop blobs of the cream cheese mixture all over the top. Use a skewer or cocktail stick to swirl the blobs, creating pretty patterns.

Pop the tart into the fridge for at least 3 hours before cutting generous slices of this wonderful citrusy delight – enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Tip…

Make the pastry case up to 1 month ahead and freeze, wrapped in cling film and foil.

Inspired by…

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Very easy but you need time for the pastry – it’s a good plan to make this ahead of when you need it.

 

Fabulous Fridge Cake

Definitely one to do with little people, this is absolute child’s play to make and frankly, is waaaaaaay more fabulous than I could possibly have imagined! Seriously naughty and very moreish – one to put on the ‘regular’ list – just do it!

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

1 x loaf tin

50g dark chocolate

50g milk chocolate

100g butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

150g digestive biscuits

25g mini marshmallows

15g Rice Krispies

What to do…

Melt the chocolate, butter and syrup together in a heatproof bowl over a steamer in a saucepan of simmering water.

Pop the digestive biscuits in a self-seal plastic bag and bash them into rough rubble with a rolling pin (small children love this bit!)

Line a loaf tin with cling film, leaving plenty hanging over the sides.

Tip the digestive biscuit rubble into the melted chocolate mixture and then add in the mini marshmallows and Rice Krispies. Mix together until they are evenly coated with chocolate .

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and use a spatula to press it down. Pop into the fridge for a few hours.

Cut into lovely hard slices of heaven – honestly, it is ridiculously awesome.

Tips…

If you don’t fancy marshmallows (although they are lovely) replace them with raisins or soured cherries.

I am reliably informed (by Ben) that a splash of Baileys Irish Cream liqueur adds a very well received grown up dimension to this already wonderful cake.

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Child’s Play – literally!

 

Favourite Chocolate Brownies

I seem to be making these gorgeous, gooey-in-the-middle, rich and sumptuous brownies on an almost weekly basis (on demand!) and across a variety of geographical locations: they are adored and indulged in across all age groups and might be faintly addictive. Anyway, the recipe has already been blogged, ‘Sumptuous Chocolate Brownies’, but I thought a second mention might be appropriate and I’ve also updated the picture which originally had Christmas decorations in. Instead, we now have chief cookie and cake bakers as well as expert bowl and spatula lickers, Sophia and Georgia! Try this recipe – you won’t look back!

American-Style Buttermilk Pancakes

Shrove Tuesday is coming and I decided this year to take a departure from the traditional pancake batter and instead tried this American-style pancake recipe and it was sooooo worth it! In our indulgent taste test (in the name of blog research) we tried both savoury pancakes with smoked salmon and a dill sauce followed by pancakes with caramelised bananas and either chocolate or caramel spread. Wow!!!!! (John’s first five words) Fluffy and light, smooth and indulgent, I’m afraid the days of traditional pancake batter may well be behind me, these are absolutely terrific and feel like an utter treat.

Makes 6 – 8 pancakes, depending on how big you like them

What you need for the buttermilk pancakes…

150g plain flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 tablespoon caster sugar

Pinch of salt

2 large, happy eggs, separated

284ml carton buttermilk

Knob of butter for frying

What you need for the smoked salmon and dill sauce topping…

1 large, happy egg yolk

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 dessertspoon caster sugar

Pinch of salt

150ml rapeseed oil

Small bunch dill, finely chopped

Juice of ½ lemon

Smoked salmon (100g tops 3 pancakes)

A few dill sprigs, lemon wedges and creamed horseradish to serve

What you need for the caramelised banana and chocolate topping…

Per pancake:

Sprinkling of caster sugar

1 banana, sliced thickly,

Either Dulce de Leche (milk caramel spread) or chocolate spread or Nutella

Dollop of ice cream to serve (we had brandy ice cream – recipe already blogged – which was incredible but vanilla would work well)

What to do…

Make the Dill sauce up to three days in advance. This means that you can just enjoy the pancake-making on the day that you want to eat them.

Put the egg yolk, vinegar, mustard, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl and use your handheld electric whisk to beat until a foam is beginning to form. Very slowly pour in the oil, whisking the whole time, to create a thickened Hollandaise-style sauce. Stir in the dill and lemon juice, cover with cling film and pop in the fridge until needed.

For each warmed pancake, dollop on around a dessertspoon of dill sauce and spread over the pancake. Arrange or plop on as much smoked salmon as you fancy and garnish with a few dill sprigs. Serve with lemon wedges and a little creamed horseradish on the side: wow and awesome!!!!

And to the pancakes! In a medium mixing bowl, use your handheld electric whisk to beat the egg whites until they form soft floppy peaks. Set aside. Unplug the whisk and rinse.

Mix the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks and mix in. Slowly pour in the buttermilk, using your handheld electric whisk to mix it in thoroughly, forming a thick, smooth batter.

Add one tablespoon egg whites to the batter and use a balloon whisk to incorporate. Add the rest of the egg whites in two batches, again using the balloon whisk to gently incorporate, creating a light, fluffy batter.

Heat a large frying pan over a moderate heat and lightly grease with butter. For each pancake, drop in a ladleful of batter, smoothing it down a little with the back of the ladle to create pancakes that are about 10cm wide and 1cm thick. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes on each side and then keep warm in a low oven whilst you cook the rest. Add your choice of topping and either slowly indulge or demolish with relish!!!! (We tried the first approach but quickly made the transition to the second!)

For the caramelised banana and chocolate topping. Warm a small frying pan over a moderate heat with the sprinkling of caster sugar covering the bottom of the pan. As soon as the sugar has melted, chuck in the banana slices. As soon as the melted sugar turns red, flip the bananas and cook for a couple of minutes until they are well caramelised. Don’t muck about with them as they’ll break up. Remove from the heat and set aside whilst you spread your choice of chocolate or caramel spread over your warmed pancake. Tip the banana slices over the top and then dollop on your ice cream. Roll your eyes in the ecstasy that is this pancake – guard it against jealous housemates!

American Pancakes with Smoked Salmon & Dill Sauce w

Tip…

This quantity of the dill sauce is enough for 6 – 8 pancakes, but if like us, you only make up half the batter for savoury ones, the sauce will keep in the fridge for 3 days and is brilliant served with grilled or roasted fish.

Inspired by…

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Really easy and very worth it. I’d definitely make the dill sauce in advance though as there was a lot of washing up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spiced Haddock Chowder

Real comfort food this, it’s a thick, chunky and really flavoursome soup – an ideal lunch or supper that will surely brighten even the coldest and most miserable winter’s day – also dead easy to make!

Serves 4

What you need…

2 haddock fillets

568ml (1 pint) milk

4 bay leaves

10 peppercorns

25g butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 carrot, roughly chopped

½ swede, roughly chopped

1 large potato, peeled and roughly chopped

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon plain flour

2 tablespoons flatleaf parsley, chopped

What to do…

Cut the haddock fillets in half and pop them into a saucepan with the milk, bay leaves and peppercorns. Bring to the boil and then pop the lid on, removing from the heat and leaving the flavours to infuse.

Melt the butter and then sauté the onion until just soft. Add the carrot, swede and potato together with the mustard seeds and turmeric and sauté the lot over a moderate heat, stirring the whole time, until lightly browned.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the haddock from the milk.

Scatter the flour over the vegetables cook over a moderate heat, stirring to evenly incorporate. Gradually pour in the infused milk, stirring as you go and then turn up the heat to create a thick sauce. Cook the vegetables in this sauce until they are soft (15 minutes or so).

Break up the haddock into bite-sized chunks and tip it into the pan to warm through.

Serve in rustic bowls (it’s that kind of a soup) with a little chopped parsley to garnish. Enjoy this soup that has the same warming effect as snuggling up in a warm blanket but with the added zing of a little spiciness.

Inspired by…

Nigel Slater

How easy…

A very easy-going, relaxed recipe, rather like the man himself

Chocolate, Coffee and Vanilla Layer Cake

A lovely flavoursome cake that combines some of my favourite flavours: vanilla, caramel and coffee, all wrapped up in chocolate – a lovely treat although no occasion is particularly required….just an appetite for a big slice of naughty cake!

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

3 x 20cm sandwich tins, buttered and lined with baking parchment

225g butter, softened

225g golden caster sugar

225g plain flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

4 large, happy eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon coffee extract

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

1 teaspoon sea salt

200g dulce de leche (milk caramel spread)

Chocolate stars and edible gold dust (optional, to decorate)

for the glaze

200g dark chocolate, chunked

30g butter

2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted

4 tablespoons coffee extract (or VERY strong coffee)

6 tablespoons golden syrup

What to do…

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

Into your food processor, tip the butter and golden caster sugar and whizz until pale and fluffy. Whilst still whizzing, gradually pour in the egg, thoroughly incorporating each bit before adding any more. Tip in the flour and baking powder and whizz until thoroughly mixed.

Remove one third of the mixture and put it into another bowl. To this third, add the coffee extract and mix in thoroughly. Pour into one of the sandwich tins. Set aside.

Into the remaining mixture in the food processor, add the vanilla bean paste and whizz until mixed in. Divide between the two remaining sandwich tins. Bang all three tins on your work surface to level the mixture in each and then pop all three in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool.

For the glaze, put all the ingredients into a heatproof bowl and set in a steamer over a pan of simmering water. Leave until melted, then whisk together and set aside to cool.

Mix the salt into the dulce de leche. Put a vanilla sponge onto your cake stand and spread half the dulce de leche over the top. Place the coffee sponge over the top and spread the remaining dulce de leche over the top before adding the remaining vanilla sponge.

Once the glaze is cool but not fully set, use a small palette knife to cover the top and sides. The glaze is quite forgiving so you can take your time with this, doing it little by little, going around the a few times to build it up.

Allow it to set until tacky and then sprinkle over the gold dust, before decorating with stars.

Cut nice, big fat slices and enjoy…..

Inspired by…

Not sure: the recipe was clipped from a magazine

How easy…

Very easy for a pretty spectacular shape even if, like me, you’re not good at the presentation aspects of the recipe