Tag Archives: Rachel Allen

Torta Di Cappuccino

The 62nd of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cookbook, this seductive dessert is literally temptation on a plate!

OMG!!!! This is a totally luscious ‘tart-mousse’ – I’m not sure which category it fits in but I can tell you this – a dark chocolate digestive biscuit base is topped with something in between a cake and a mousse that is richly flavoured with coffee and chocolate – the combination is staggeringly gorgeous, I mean staggeringly!! And somehow, as much as it’s rich, it’s also light: temptation on a plate. If you feel like sharing (I’d urge against) you can make it a day in advance of a dinner party or friends coming for supper.

Serves 8 – 10 (or perhaps just 1!)

What you need…

23cm diameter spring, form cake tin, lightly buttered

for the base

375g dark chocolate digestive biscuits

3 tablespoons double cream

75g butter, melted

for the topping

500g mascarpone

140g caster sugar

3 eggs

100g chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa solids), broken up

3 tablespoons Kahlua

125ml espresso or REALLY strong coffee

Icing sugar, to decorate

Chocolate coffee beans, to decorate

What to do…

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

To make the base, whizz your biscuits in a food processor to create crumbs, then mix with the cream and melted butter. Tip the biscuit mix into the cake tin, spread evenly and press down so the mix is good and solid. Pop in the fridge whilst you do the rest.

Put your chocolate into a heatproof bowl and then into a steamer over a pan of simmering water to gently melt.

Using a handheld electric whisk, beat the mascarpone and caster sugar together in a large bowl until soft and light.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Gradually add to the mascarpone mixture, whisking the whole time.

Go back to your melted chocolate and mix in the Kahlua and coffee. Then add to the mascarpone mixture, whisking continually to ensure that all the ingredients are evenly blended.

Pour over the biscuit base and bake in the oven for 50 minutes or until the centre is set (no jiggling) and the top is evenly brown.

Leave to cool and when cold, transfer from the cake tin to a pretty serving plate. Decorate with sifted icing sugar and chocolate coffee beans, either scattered haphazardly or in a ring around the edge of the dessert. Take one slice of your Torta di Cappuccino, just to make sure that it’s OK. Enjoy the sheer, delectable enjoyment of that moment and then decide if you like the people you’re with enough to share it with!!!!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How Easy…

It’s not difficult at all. I feel that is should have been, given the end result but no, it was very straight forward.

Gently Spiced Prawn and Bacon Skewers for the Barbie

The 57th of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cookbook, these gorgeous little numbers are fabulous on the barbecue – the sun’s out –what’s stopping you?!

Absolutely delicious and a great pairing – I would never have thought to put these two together. The gentle spicing adds to the natural flavour of the prawns, rather than detracting from them and I have to say, every time I do these, they go down a storm! Hot favourite for the barbecue season!

Makes 30

What you need…

Bamboo skewers

30 raw king prawns

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, ground

4 big, fat cloves of garlic, chopped

15 rashers of streaky bacon, cut in half

Lime slices, to serve (optional – I have forgotten them mostly!)

What to do…

Tip the prawns into a bowl with everything except the bacon and lime slices, mix all together, cover with cling film and pop in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the flavours to develop.

Just before cooking, wrap each prawn in half a piece of streaky bacon and thread onto your bamboo skewers. It’s up to you how many you put on each skewer depending on how many people you are feeding, how many prawns you want them to enjoy and whether they are sharing skewers or individual ones!

Pass prawn skewers over to husband who is manning the barbecue, sit back and sip wine whilst he cooks them to perfection, 4-5 minutes on each side.

Serve with salad, new potatoes, garlic bread and loads of other good barbecued fish and meats for a proper al fresco summer feast – yum!!!!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

I prep a couple of hours in advance. John fires up the barbie. What could be easier?!

My Favourite Recipe for Chicken Liver Paté

The 44th of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cookbook, this paté is simply stunning, adored by both me and…by Treacle the dog(amongst others) – leave this for 30 seconds within reach and….it’s vanished (be it me or the dog!) – paté is her absolute favourite!

For years I have been making a truly wonderful chicken liver paté recipe, confident that the recipe couldn’t be bettered. And then….I found this one in Rachel Allen’s ‘Entertaining at Home’. It is absolutely gorgeous – a rich, smooth paté beautifully flavoured with port, brandy and thyme. I have since switched my allegiance and it’s definitely on the ‘favourites’ list for when friends come around for dinner. Give it a go – if you love opulent, rich patés, you’ll love this.

Serves 4 – 6 as a starter

What you need…

250g chicken livers, trimmed

110g butter

50g shallots, chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

2 teaspoons thyme leaves, chopped

95ml port

25ml brandy

Sea salt and black pepper

Sweet apple relish to serve, optional

What to do…

Melt 15g butter in a large frying pan over a moderate heat and when it starts to foam, tip in the chicken livers. Cook for 2-4 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the livers) ensuring that they are still pink in the middle. Tip into your food processor.

In the same pan, melt a further 15g butter over a moderate heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for 6 – 8 minutes until golden. Tip in the thyme, 75ml of the port and all of the brandy and cook until the liquid has reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Tip all the ingredients into your food processor, scraping the pan to make sure you get all the yummy goodness.

Pour the remaining port into the pan, whop up the heat to high and boil for 30 seconds before adding to the food processor. Whizz everything together until smooth. Cut the remaining butter into cubes, plop them in and whizz again to incorporate. Taste, adjust seasoning, whizz and taste again.

Spoon into one serving bowl or individual dishes, smooth over and cover with cling film. Pop in the fridge until about 20 minutes before you want to indulge – the flavours really come to the fore at room temperature. The sweet apple relish (already blogged) is a good accompaniment (as is a lovely little glass of dessert wine) but isn’t vital – this paté is quite happy taking centre stage!

Tip…

The paté freezes really well, so I’m going to double up on the recipe so that there’s always some available for those spontaneous ‘drop-ins’.

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Very easy – a bit of frying and whizzing – job done!

 

 

Light and Zesty Lemon Tart

The 29th of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cookbook, this is truly scrumptious and was the recipe in which I finally conquered pastry! (The first time I made it, it fell apart and I was sooooo cross – I woke up at 3am and announced – to myself – that I would not be beaten my a lemon tart! Sad, I know but the perseverance paid off – now I don’t know what the problem was – this is so easy!

A really light, creamy yet zesty, fresh version of this classic dessert, this lemon tart is quite simply, delightful. Seconds all round, please.

Serves 6

What you need…

1 x 23cm/9in shallow tart tin, with removable base, liberally buttered

1 x flat baking sheet

for the pastry

175g flour

Pinch of salt

100g butter, straight from the fridge

25g caster sugar

1 egg, separated: yolk in one cup and white in another

2 dessertspoons water

for the filling

3 eggs

125g granulated sugar

Juice and grated zest of 2 lemons

100ml double cream

What to do…

Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub into the flour until the mixture is like crumbs. Add the sugar and gently mix in with a spatula. Beat the egg yolk and then tip into the mixture, stirring until the mixture sticks together. At this point add the water, one teaspoon at a time until the mixture comes together – you may not need the whole 2 dessertspoons.

Cover your working surface with cling film and then flour lightly. Roll out your pastry on the cling film until about 5mm thick, creating a circle as best you can. Cover with another piece of cling film and then slide a flat baking sheet underneath the whole lot to lift it and pop in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.

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

Remove pastry from fridge and, keeping the pastry between the two pieces of cling film, gently roll it out until it’s about 3mm thick and large enough to line the bottom and sides of the prepared tart tin.

Remove the top piece of cling film and gently place the pastry upside down (cling film facing up) into the tin. Gently press into the edges and using your thumb, break off the pastry of the top edge of the tin to give a neat finish. Remove the cling film and pop the pastry into the freezer for 10 minutes.

The pasty needs to be blind-baked now so line it roughly with parchment paper, making sure the sides are also covered with the paper. Chuck in a load of baking beans (or dried pulses which can be used many times over) and blind-bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry feels dry.

Remove the paper and beans. Lightly beat your egg white and use it to brush over the pastry. Pop the pastry back in the oven for two minutes.

Take out of the oven and put to one side until you are ready to make your filling (this could be immediately, later on in the day or even the next day).

Set the oven to 120°c / 250°f / gas ½.

In a food processor, pop your eggs and sugar and whizz for about 8 minutes, until the mixture is pale and creamy. Add the lemon juice and zest and process for a further 5 minutes. Pour in the cream and whizz for another 5 minutes.

Pour into the pastry case and pop it straight in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes or until the filling has just set in the centre.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before taking the tart out of its tin and transferring to a pretty plate or cake stand. When it’s completely cool, dredge icing sugar over the top. Slice and serve your light and zesty lemon tart – it’s fresh and zingy, light and frankly, delightful!

Serving suggestion…

A little splash of double cream works wonderfully and this is a great dessert to serve with a ‘sticky’ dessert wine.

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Well, at the time of first making this, I had never made my own pastry but I nervously followed that element of the recipe to the letter and ….it was too ‘short’. The second time, I adapted it and added more water and it was absolutely delightful. The lemon filling is quite heavenly and a dead easy – just a case of processing.

I do love this recipe, because the ‘tricky’  bit, i.e. the pastry, can be done in advance and the filling is dead easy.

Rhubarb and Vodka Love Potion

The 25th of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cookbook, this is one gorgeous cocktail, absolutely exuding romance and passion. I’m posting it today in case any of you romantics are looking for something a little different for Valentine’s day.

A deliciously delightful cocktail for Valentine’s day…..and for any other loved up days!

Serves 2 romantics

What you need….

Cocktail shaker or jug

2 stalks rhubarb, sliced (choose stalks as pink as you can find)

100g caster sugar

120ml water

100ml vodka

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1 large orange

½ a cup of ice

What to do…

Pop the rhubarb, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Allow to boil for a few minutes until the rhubarb has broken down to a mush. Take off the heat and sieve the clear pink juice into a jug, leaving the mush behind. Leave to cool.

When you’re ready to indulge, add the vodka, lime and orange juices to the jug. Have a quick taste to see if you are happy with it or would like a little more of any of the ingredients. Put your ice in a cocktail shaker, chuck the cocktail ingredients in, pop the lid on and shake like mad. (If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, pour into a jug with the ice and stir; then insist that a cocktail shaker is a necessary addition to your kitchen). Pour into two gorgeous glasses, deliver to your soul mate and gaze lovingly over the rim of the glasses as you sip. Drain glass and wish you’d made double the rhubarb sugar syrup so that you could make some more!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Really easy, just remember to allow time for the rhubarb sugar syrup to cool down.

Crab and Prawn Coconut Soup

The 23rd of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cookbook, this soup makes for an absolute delicious starter. Since finding the recipe, I have returned to it again and again – it’s always received with much delight!

I love this crab and prawn coconut soup: it’s delightfully light, tasty and fragranced but also has enough about it to pass as a substantial starter or light lunch. The seafood flavours are beautifully emphasised by the influences of the lemon grass, fish sauce and coriander – it’s absolutely lovely and you can knock it up in a flash – definitely going on my ‘supper party starters’ list, so if you’re coming around, expect it – you’ll enjoy!

Serves 2

What you need…

Splash rapeseed oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

2cm fresh ginger, peeled and then grated

1 lemon grass stem, trimmed and sliced

Pinch hot chilli powder

200g cooked crab meat

500ml boiling water from the kettle

1 fish stockpot (I use Knorr)

200g coconut milk

1 tablespoon fish sauce

225g raw, peeled prawns

2 spring onions, trimmed and sliced

Juice of ½ lemon

Good handful chopped fresh coriander

What to do…

In a jug, pop in your stockpot and then pour in 500ml boiling water from the kettle. Whisk with either a fork or small balloon whisk to dissolve and then set your stock aside.

In a large saucepan over a moderate heat, splash in the oil and add the garlic, ginger, lemon grass and chilli powder.  Cook until golden. Tip in the crab meat, stock, coconut milk and fish sauce. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the crab meat and the prawns and cook until the prawns are just pink. Then add the spring onions, lemon juice and coriander. Enjoy this lovely, light fragrant soup – quite delicious!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy….

Very easy, quick and simply delightful!

Spiced Poached Pears with Stilton

An absolute stunner this one: the combination of the sweet, festively spiced pears with the rich, creamy flavour of a fine Stilton is quite simply eye-rollingly, tastebud-partyingly good!!!!! Give them a try – spectacular – and yes, very easy and can be made ahead – my kinda recipe!

What you need…

300ml ‘robust’ red wine (I used Chianti)

300ml water

110g caster sugar

1.5cm cinnamon stick

3 cloves

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange

6 firm (but not rock-hard) pears

A rather exuberant wedge of good quality Stilton

What to do…

Tip all the ingredients except the pears into a large saucepan and place over a moderate heat, occasionally stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Meanwhile, peel the pears, leaving the stalks on and place upright in the pan – they should fit snugly.

Pop the lid on the pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, spooning the red wine syrup over the pears a couple of times.

Remove from the heat and discard the cinnamon and cloves. Spoon the syrup once more over the pears and then pop into the fridge overnight.

Take the Stilton out of your fridge at least an hour before you want to enjoy it and then, when you’re ready to indulge, remove the pears from the syrup and cut a thin slice off the bottom to ensure they will stand upright on the serving plates. Cut yourself a nice, fat slice of Stilton and serve with a pear drizzled with just a little of the the spicy syrup:  del-ic-ious!!!!

Tip…

Use 3 pears with the Stilton and follow by serving the remaining 3 pears with cinnamon ice-cream!!!!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Really easy!

Winter Pasta Sauce of Chicken Livers and Bacon, Port and Red Wine

This gutsy version of the traditional ragu is a fabulous combination of a rich sweetness provided by the port, perfectly balancing the silky, complex, intense flavour of the rosy-pink chicken livers. A definite favourite in this house, it’s the type of comforting dish you want to come home to on a cold, blowy Winter’s day – delicious! Oh, and the photograph doesn’t do it justice!!!!

Serves 4 hungry people

What you need…

A splash of olive oil

5 rashers of streaky bacon, roughly chopped

150g onions, chopped

2 bay leaves

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

150g minced beef

1 tablespoon tomato paste

75ml port

75ml red wine

Sea salt and black pepper

Knob of butter

125g chicken livers, roughly chopped

Freshly grated Parmesan, to serve

Your favourite pasta (choose a shape that collects lots of sauce!)

What to do…

Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan over a high heat and tip in the bacon, cooking and occasionally stirring for a couple of minutes until golden and crispy.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to kitchen paper. Turn the oil in the pan down to moderate and add the onions, cooking and stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or so, until soft and only slightly golden.

Return the cooked bacon to the pan together with the bay leaves, garlic, minced beef, tomato paste, port and red wine. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil before reducing the heat and simmering for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid has almost completely evaporated.

Meanwhile, cook your favourite pasta, following the packet instructions.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a moderate heat, add the chicken livers and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-4 minutes or until they have browned but are still pink in the middle. Tip them into the mince mixture and cook for 1 minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Splash in about 75ml of the pasta cooking water into the mince mixture and then drain the rest. Tip the drained pasta into your delectable, gutsy sauce and serve with lots of freshly grated Parmesan over the top. A glass of red wine wouldn’t go amiss either – wonderful!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Very easy and so rewarding!

 

Blueberry and Custard Tart

A delightful little number that is fresh and light and bursting with summer flavours, this sweet tart is a very happy marriage of sweet vanilla custard with ripe and juicy blueberries, encircled in a crisp, light, sweet pastry.

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

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

1 x baking sheet

for the pastry

250g plain flour, plus a little for dusting

50g icing sugar

A pinch of salt

135g butter, cold and chunked

1 medium, happy egg, beaten

2 – 3 tablespoons ice-cold water

for the custard

200 ml milk

1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways and seeds scraped out

25g cornflour

50g caster sugar

3 medium, happy egg yolks

200ml double cream, whisked to soft peaks

to decorate

375g fresh blueberries

1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly

1 tablespoon water

What to do…

First to the pastry: sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into your food processor. Add the butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg and cold water and pulse until the pastry comes together.

Tip the pastry out onto a floured surface and briefly knead into a ball. Wrap in cling film and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes.

When you are ready to roll out the pastry, remove the pastry from the fridge, placing it between two sheets of cling film (each wider than your tart tin). Roll out the pastry until it’s about 3mm thick and wide enough to line the base and sides of the prepared tin.

Remove the top layer of cling film, slide your hand, palm upwards, under the bottom layer of cling film, then flip the pastry over (so that the cling film is now on top) and carefully lower it into the tart tin. (Neat trick this – first time I’ve done it). Press into the edges (with the cling film still attached) and, using your thumb, ‘cut’ the pastry on the edge of the tin to give a neat finish. Remove the cling film, prick over the base with a fork and chill the pastry in the fridge for a further 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180˚c /gas 4 and pop your baking sheet in. Remove the pastry from the fridge, trim off the excess pastry and line tart with foil, leaving plenty to come over the sides of the tin. Fill with baking beans and bake ‘blind’ on the baking sheet for 15 – 20 minutes or until the pastry feels dry to the touch in the base.

Remove the foil and beans, brush with a little egg white and return to the oven for a further 5 – 8 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool.

Turning to the custard: heat a saucepan over a low heat and pour in the milk. Add the vanilla pod and seeds, cornflour and half the sugar and gently heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

In a bowl, use an electric hand whisk to beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until creamy and pale. Slowly pour in the hot milk mixture, whisking as you add it, then pour back into a clean saucepan.

Whisk well and place over a low – medium heat, then cook for around 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the custard has thickened. Remove from the heat, discard the vanilla pod and cool the custard; then fold in the cream, using a balloon whisk.

To assemble the tart: spoon the cooled custard cream into the pastry case and top with the blueberries. In a small saucepan, dissolve the redcurrant jelly in the water

and, using a pastry brush, gently coat the blueberries with this glaze, taking care not to move the blueberries or disturb the custard. This will give the tart a lovely finishing gloss.

To serve, remove the tart from the tin (with the base of the tin still attached, if that’s easier), carefully transfer it to a serving plate and cut nice, chunky slices to indulge in – yummy!

How easy…

It takes time and there’s quite a bit of washing up but if you’re relaxed, got some good tunes going on in the kitchen, it’s a pleasure to make and a delightful summer pud!

Inspired by…

The main recipe is Rachel Allen’s but I used my own favourite sweet pastry recipe, courtesy of Camilla Stephens, founder of Higgidy.

 

Sweet Apple Relish

This delightful slightly tart yet sweet relish is a perfect accompaniment to my ‘New Favourite Chicken Liver Paté’ but would also work brilliantly with a game terrine or pie, spicy sausages or adorning a fabulous cheeseboard (one of my favourite meals all by itself!). It’s easy to make and will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

Makes 250ml

What you need…

25g butter

2 eating apples, peeled cored and diced (5mm)

50g caster sugar

25ml sherry vinegar

75ml red wine

Pinch of salt

What to do…

Melt the butter over a moderate heat. When it begins to foam, tip in the apples and cook for 2-3 minutes until they begin to turn golden around the edges.

Add the remaining ingredients, stir thoroughly and cook for 5 minutes until reduced and jam-like with the apples cooked through but not mushy.

Allow to cool before serving or decanting into a sterilised jar and popping in the fridge, awaiting an opportunity to indulge! (I will make some at the beginning of December for all those casual dates with cheese that we have planned!)

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

No effort at all