Watermelon, Feta and Olive Salad with Mint

A wonderful refreshing but satisfying salad that beautifully marries the earthiness of feta and olives with the bursting sunshine, juiciness and freshness of watermelon. A perfect light lunch or starter, the addition of aromatic, fresh mint just finishes it off. Very yummy and dare I say it, quite healthy too!!!!

What you need…

½ small watermelon, peeled deseeded and chunked

½ cucumber, peeled, halved lengthways, deseeded and sliced

200g feta cheese, chunked

90g pitted black olives

A small handful mint, chopped

for the dressing

4 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

First, tip the dressing ingredients into a screw top jar, pop on the lid and shake like mad.

Tip all the salad ingredients, except the feta, into a pretty salad bowl, pour in the dressing and thoroughly mix together. Gently stir in the feta – too energetic an approach and the feta will crumble. Job done! Serve and enjoy this very moreish, rather gorgeous salad!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Ridiculously!

Blackberry Jam Lattice Tart

A little blackberry obsessed, I’ve been gently but regularly foraging the locality, picking blackberries for tarts, ripples, sorbets or just for the lusciousness of grabbing a handful of fresh, free fruit. Anyway, as much as I like trialling different pastry recipes, sometimes I just want a quick tart made with cheat’s pastry! Whop it together, pop it in the oven and enjoy! This one didn’t disappoint – takes no time to make (unless you’re silly enough to plait some of the lattice topping – very relaxing though) and just a wonderful reminder of sun-warmed early Autumnal days.

What you need…

1 x 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin, liberally buttered and lined on the bottom with parchment paper

1 x 450g packet sweet dessert short crust pastry mix (I used Sainsbury’s)

9 tablespoons cold water

Plain flour, for dusting.

500g blackberries

450g jam sugar

Juice ½ lemon

1 egg, lightly beaten

Caster sugar, for sprinkling

What to do…

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

Put the berries in a large heavy-based pan over a low eat with the sugar and lemon juice. Gently heat and fold the sugar into the blackberries until dissolved. Bring the fruit to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally and let the fruit simmer for about 10-12 minutes. Allow your yummy jam to cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, use a fork to mix the water into your pastry mix to form a soft dough (delight in how easy this is!) Dust your work surface with the flour and roll out the pastry dough in a rough circle slightly larger than the tart tin. Drape the pastry into the tin, gently pushing it into the edges. Trim off the excess pastry, briefly knead the excess to form a ball and then roll out into a long, thin rectangle. Use a sharp knife to cut thin strips that will be used to form the lattice top.

Plop the jam into the pastry case. Brush the edges with beaten egg and then create your lattice top. I fiddled about with mine, weaving under and over but you don’t need to be that pedantic – create your topping as you wish! Brush the lattice work with beaten egg, sprinkle with caster sugar and pop the tart into the oven, baking for 30 minutes, turn the pie around and cook for another 5 -10 minutes, just to make sure that your tart is evenly golden all over.

Allow your lovely jammy tart to cool a little. If you can’t wait and want to indulge in your tart whilst it is warm, the jam will still be runny and oozingly gorgeous; if you allow it to cool properly, then you will have a set jam filling. If, like us, you dig in practically immediately and then return for seconds a couple of hours later, you get to enjoy both experiences!

If you’re luck enough to have a thermomix…

Use this marvellous little machine to make the jam whilst you’re faffing around with the pastry: chuck the blackberries, sugar and lemon juice into the mixing bowl and blend for 10 seconds/speed 6. Cook for 28 minutes/varoma/speed 1, inserting the simmering basket rather than the measuring cup to prevent splashing. Job done!

Berry Jam Lattice Tart w

Inspired by…

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Really easy, whether you use a saucepan or the thermomix and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the occasional pre-made pastry mix!

 

 

Saturday Supper of Salmon and Med. Veg.

Lovely little supper of Salmon with Sorrel and Vermouth Sauce served with Summer Mediterranean Vegetables: both previously blogged and both lovely, especially the salmon dish)

Tip…

Use the search option in the top right hand corner of the website to type in each recipe to find the original blogs – enjoy!

Inspired by…

James Martin and Mary Berry, respectively

How easy…

Dead easy – perfect for a quick, sumptuous supper!

 

 

 

 

Porchetta Wellington

I can’t do Beef Wellington – it’s one of John’s ‘signature dishes’ and I wouldn’t dream of trying to emulate what is my absolute favourite of one of his dishes (I will blog it one day though). However, when I saw this in last Saturday’s paper, Sunday lunch was instantly sorted! And it didn’t disappoint – looks and tastes stunning – an absolutely great Sunday lunch for family and friends….that takes very little last minute effort and looks like you’ve spent hours slaving!!!!

Serves 6

What you need…

1 x 33cm x 25cm baking tin (or slightly bigger)

2 pork tenderloins (about 450g each)

Sea salt and black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

10 slices Parma ham

200g spinach, wilted and squeezed dry

2 x 375g ready-rolled packets all-butter puff pastry

1 egg, beaten

for the paté

100g unsalted butter

1 shallot, peeled and chopped

250g chicken livers, trimmed

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoons brandy

½ teaspoon English mustard powder

for the herb mix

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, peeled and chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

150g chestnut mushrooms, chopped finely

6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked

2 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and chopped finely

1 teaspoon dried crushed chillis

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

What to do…

First make the paté. Melt 60g of the butter over a moderate heat and then add the shallot and cook for 10 minutes, until softened. Tip in the chicken livers and garlic and cook, turning, for up to 5 minutes, until they are just pink in the middle. Tip in the brandy and the mustard powder and season with salt and pepper.

Pop the remaining butter into your food processor together with the liver mixture and whizz until smooth. Use a spatula to get every last morsel out of the processor and into a bowl. Cover with cling film and then pop in the fridge until needed.

Next, the herb mix. Heat the oil and gently fry the shallot for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, mushrooms and herbs and sauté over a high heat for 5 minutes. Add the crushed chilli and lemon zest, season to taste, cover with foil and cool. Pop in the fridge if you’re prepping this bit way in advance.

So, to the main event. Season the pork and rub with oil, then sear in a hot pan until golden all over. Set aside to rest and cool.

Lay out two overlapping sheets of cling film so they’re longer and wider than your tenderloins would be if laid side-by-side. Lay the Parma Ham slices across the cling film so they overlap to make a large rectangle. Spread with the paté, then place the tenderloins on top. Spread the herb mix evenly over the tenderloins and then cover with spinach.

Use the cling film to help roll up from one side to the other, creating a tight ‘sausage’ with the Parma ham encasing the tenderloins.

Unroll one sheet of your pastry, retaining the greaseproof paper that it comes with (no need to line your baking tin). Unwrap the pork and place in the centre of the pastry. Brush the pastry all around the tenderloins with beaten egg and then unroll the remaining pastry sheet, gently laying it over the top of the pork, pressing it around the edges. Discard the attached greaseproof paper from the top layer of pastry. Trim the pastry to leave a 2cm edge all the way around and seal the edges with a fork. Brush the entire wellington with the egg and then pop in the fridge for 20 minutes.

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

Bake your Porchetta Wellington for 45 minutes until golden. Rest for 10 minutes, sip wine, slice and serve to a deeply impressed group of family and friends – enjoy – it’s a great sharing dish!

Tip…

Make the paté and herb mix in advance, keeping them in the fridge until needed. Then, all you have left to do is a quick assembly job! (However, the paté will then be too hard to spread – I popped it into the microwave for 20 seconds – dead easy then!)

Inspired by…

Rosemary Shrager, The Big Family Cooking Showdown, Weekend magazine

How easy…

Not at all difficult (what a treat ready-rolled pastry is!) but it makes sense to prepare the paté and herb mix in advance.

 

 

 

Pineapple Steeped in Kirsch

I don’t suppose I can really call this a recipe, but it’s definitely worth sharing. This dessert is gorgeously refreshing and tangy BUT with a definite kick – the sweet, juicy flavour of the pineapple combined with the subtle (but extremely alcoholic) taste of the Kirsch cherry liqueur is simply sublime. A lovely dessert, summer or winter, but especially good after something really spicy, e.g. a hot curry.

What you need…

1 ripe pineapple

80ml Kirsch liqueur

Sprig of mint, to garnish (optional)

What to do…

Cut the pineapple in half lengthways, remove the flesh and discard the core. Chunk the fruit into bite-sized pieces. Tip the pineapple chunks into a bowl, pour over the Kirsch and cover with cling film. Give the whole lot a good shake and then pop into the fridge overnight to allow the wonderful flavours to develop.

Serve the Kirsch-steeped pineapple chunks on their own or with a dollop of double cream or natural yogurt. That’s it – couldn’t be easier and very well worth the minimal effort!

Tip…

You might want to shake the bowl every now and then whilst it’s ‘gathering’ in the fridge, just to make sure the Kirsch is evenly distributed.

A little bit about Kirsch…

Produced mainly in Germany, but also in Switzerland and the Alsace region of France, Kirsch’s full name is kirsch wasser (pronounced vasser), meaning cherry water. Originating from the Black Forest, in the Southern area of the country, it’s an eau de vie (a type of brandy) made by double-distilling the fermented juice of the sour morello cherry. As it’s not aged in contact with wood (barrels are coated with wax to prevent this happening), kirsch is clear in colour, and the flavour subtley hints at its cherry origins, rather than being sweet and cloying.

Inspired by…

Absolutely no idea! Have been knocking this little one up for years!

How easy…

Simples!

Connagh’s Weight-Training Birthday Cake!

Serves 16+

I’m not sure how many of you would want to create a birthday cake designed to look like gym weights (or even if you think I have pulled it off!) but just in case, this is the recipe for my son’s 18th birthday cake. Despite it’s appearance, the cake is absolutely decadently delicious, moist, sweet and very far removed from anything related to fitness!!!!! Happy 18th Birthday Connagh! xx

What you need…

1 x 23cm cake tin, 1 x 20cm cake tin and 1 x 15cm cake tin, all spring form ideally and liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper.

1 x 35.5cm cake board

1 small deep cookie cutter (to cut the hole in the top ‘weight’)

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

100g dark chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa) broken into pieces

200g unsalted butter, room temperature

400g icing sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the decoration

750g Renshaw ready-to-roll black fondant icing

Icing sugar for dusting

Royal icing sugar and water for letter-writing

Disposable icing bag with No. 2 writing tube

A couple of tablespoons of vodka in a water spray bottle (see tip!)

1 x weight-training rubber duck! (optional!)

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 three cake tins.

Bake the sponges in the oven for 35 – 40 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, using a handheld electric whisk, beat together with the butter. Add the vanilla essence and then tip in the warm chocolate. Use your whisk again to mix together, ensuring that the ingredients are evenly and thoroughly blended. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Halve each sponge horizontally, slather one half with butter cream and then return the other halves back on top. Set aside.

Take 250g of the fondant icing and roll it out thinly on an icing sugar-dusted surface so that it is big enough to cover the top and sides of the largest sponge. Use a small spatula to cover the top and sides of the largest sponge in butter cream, smoothing as best you can. Drape the rolled out fondant over the cake, smoothing it across the top and sides and then trim the sides to the bottom of the cake, tucking the edges of the fondant in neatly around the bottom.

Place the fondant-covered cake onto a cake board.

Take another 250g of the fondant icing and repeat the butter cream and fondant draping process for the middle-sized cake – you don’t have to roll it out quite to thinly this time though. Place this second sponge on top of the first.

Take your cookie cutter and cut a hole in the centre of the smallest sponge. Then take the final 250g fondant and repeat the butter cream and fondant draping process for the last time. This time however, poke a small hole into the centre of the rolled out fondant before draping over the smallest sponge. Then, when the fondant is smoothed over, carefully make four cuts away from the small hole (to create and ‘X’) and then fold the ‘flaps’ down the sides of the hole. Place this final sponge on top of the other two.

To ‘write’ on your cake, mix together sifted royal icing sugar with a tiny amount of cold water to create a gloopy texture – not quite stiff. Spoon into your piping back and go for it, praying for a steady hand – this process is NOT part of my skill set but I do persist in trying!!!!

Leave the cake overnight/for 24 hours for the icing to dry and set – this inside sponge will still be moist and lovely so don’t worry.

When you’re ready to celebrate, pop on candles, sing Happy Birthday and dive in – a delightful, moist, rich decadent sponge – yummy!

Tip…

If your black fondant is streaked with icing sugar, spray a little vodka over the cake and then dab with kitchen paper – the streaks will magically disappear!

Inspired by…

My son, Connagh, who threw down the design challenge. The sponge is based on the 365 Celebration Cake, already blogged.

How easy…

The sponges and butter cream are dead easy. The draping of the fondant and icing-writing fill me with dread but…they’re not that bad as long as we’re not trying to look professional!!!

 

 

 

Oriental Noodle Salad with Crayfish

Light, fresh and tangy, this is a wonderful salad that will now be gracing our table regularly, so lovely it is! The fabulous combined flavours of ginger, chilli, fish sauce and lime together with coriander and mint is just sublime; and the addition of crayfish just makes it that little bit extra special – simply yummy!

Serves 4 -6 (as a side or light lunch)

What you need…

200g rice vermicelli noodles

½ cucumber, cut in half horizontally and seeds scraped out and sliced

200g crayfish tails, cooked and peeled (more if you’re feeling exuberant)

1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced finely

150g bean sprouts

6 spring onions, sliced finely

1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and sliced finely

A large handful of coriander, chopped

A small handful of mint, chopped

3cm knob of ginger, peeled and grated finely

2 garlic cloves, chopped

for the dressing

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons dark brown soft sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

What to do…

First, bring a pan of water to the boil. Take it off the heat and pop the noodles in for 5 minutes. Drain. Refresh under cold running water. Drain again. Use clean scissors to snip into short lengths. Allow to cool completely. Job done.

Whilst that’s going on, prep the rest.

Into a screw top jar, tip all of the dressing ingredients, pop on the lid and shake like mad.

Into your salad bowl, tip everything else, including the noodles. Toss together, pour over the dressing. Toss again. Serve and enjoy with a crisp glass of white wine. The salad works particularly well with barbecued meats or roasted fish (salmon in this case). Absolutely fabulous!

Tips…

Really fresh ingredients are key to the gorgeousness of this salad.

If you don’t fancy crayfish or can’t find any at a viable price, swap them for prawns, sliced beef or shredded chicken.

Inspired by…

Firstly, friends and neighbours, Cyn and Suzy, the first of whom did her own fabulous version (but has no recipe, just raw cooking talent) and the second of whom kindly pointed me in the direction of the lovely Mary Berry!

How easy…

Just a chopping and assembly joy really.

Exotically Naughty Turkish-Inspired No Churn Coffee and Cardamom Ice Crea

 

So, just a couple of weeks ago I pronounced my take on a no churn coffee and Kahlua ice cream to be stratospherically stupendous and sinfully good. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve made it – the freezer is never without a freshly made tub. But last time, I took one third of the basic mixture and added cardamom seeds, the inclusion of which have created an extra dimension to this lovely frozen dessert: a wonderful aromatic, slightly spicy and exotic Middle-Eastern flavour that somehow intensifies the coffee – fabulous! The only problem we now have is which version we prefer the most – with or without the cardamoms!!!! Anyway, I felt the need to share this slight twist on my original recipe. Another ‘naughty but gorgeous’ addition to our growing list of sinful desserts!

What you need…

600ml double cream

397g (1 tin) condensed milk

4 espresso coffees/200ml VERY strong coffee (cold)

2 tablespoons camp coffee

4 tablespoons Kahlua/coffee liqueur

12 – 15 cardamom seeds

What to do….

Use an electric hand held whisk to beat the double cream to form soft peaks. Pour in the condensed milk and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in so that it is evenly incorporated.

Pour in the cold espresso, Camp coffee, Kahlua and cardamom seeds and stir to incorporate. Pour into a plastic container, pop the lid on and stick it in the freezer for at least 6 hours. Indulge, enjoy and immerse yourself into this exotic, sinfully delightful ice cream – just keep going – it’s hard to stop!

Tip…

Once out of the freezer, it takes about 10-15 minutes to reach the consistency whereby you can easily scoop it out.

Inspired by…

Mary Berry is responsible for the base no-churn ice cream. Since making her Honeycomb ice cream, I have started experimenting with other flavours – this and a Limoncello and Lemon Curd one (not yet blogged) being the latest…to be frank, it’s becoming a little obsessional and ever so slightly addictive!

How easy…

Stupidly! And it’s quick. What’s not to like?!

Delightful Duck with Ginger and Lime Salad

A lively, fresh and tangy salad topped with succulent duck – ideal for a lazy summer lunch in the garden. And….so tasty, so easy!

Serves 6

What you need…

3 boneless duck breasts, about 250g each

Salt

A pile of your favourite fresh salad leaves, washed and torn

for the dressing

125ml olive oil

2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

3 spring onions, chopped finely

1 teaspoon sugar

1 Thai chilli, finely sliced

What to do…

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

Wash the duck breasts, dry on kitchen paper and then cut in half.

Prick the skin all over with a fork and season well with salt. Place the duck pieces, skin-side down, on a wire rack over a roasting tin. Pop the duck into your oven and cook for 10 minutes. Tuner over and roast for a further 12 minutes or until cooked but still pink in the centre.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Chuck all the ingredients into a screw top jar, pop on the lid and shake like mad.

Remove the duck from the oven, cool and then cut into thick slices. Add a little of the dressing to the duck to moisten.

To serve, arrange your salad leaves on a serving plate. Top with the sliced duck breasts and drizzle with the remaining salad dressing. Absolutely delightful!

Inspired by…

Carol Bowen, Thai Cooking (a VERY old book)

How easy…

Quick bit of roasting and a little bit of shaking: job done!