Tag Archives: recipe

Marvellous Marzipan

 

Lovely afternoon today: it’s raining outside but inside I’ve got the Christmas playlist on whilst marzipanning the Christmas Cake. If you’ve never made marzipan before, give it a go – it tastes fantastic, is nothing like the shop-bought stuff and is dead easy, particularly if you have a stand mixer (chuck in all ingredients, fit the dough hook, turn on a slow speed and let it mix until your marzipan dough is created!!!!)

Lightly fragranced and flavoured with almond and vanilla essences, beautifully emphasising the natural gorgeousness of the moist ground almonds, marzipan is a wonder all by itself (hence the many taste checks!!!!!)Take just a few minutes (that really is all it takes) to make your own: you won’t look back!

Makes enough for the 20cm round Christmas cake already blogged and a large handful left over for general mucking about with or making stollen bites (tomorrow).

What you need…

500g ground almonds

250g caster sugar

250g icing sugar

2 eggs

½ teaspoon almond essence

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

1 teaspoon lemon juice

What to do…

Chuck all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and use and handheld electric whisk to beat everything together. When marble-sized balls have been formed, discard the whisk and use your hands to knead the marzipan together into a dough.

Roll the dough out to your personal desired thickness (I do mine just a little thicker than a pound coin but I know some people prefer more and there’s certainly enough marzipan here to accommodate a greater appetite!)

Measure the height of your cake and cut a long strip of marzipan wide enough to wrap around the cake and deep enough to go from top to bottom.

Brush apricot jam all over the side of the cake and stick your marzipan strip to it.

Likewise with the top. Use the original cake tin that you cooked the Christmas cake in as a template to cut out a circle. Brush the top of the cake with the jam and pop on your marzipan circle. Use your fingertips to blend in the sides and top of the marzipan covering.

Pop in a cake tin and leave to dry out for a couple of days before having fun with icing (blog to follow).

Inspired by…

The cake was Delia’s and the marzipan is inspired by Lisa Faulkner.

How easy…

Just a quick mix of ingredients: couldn’t be easier!

Light, Spiced Christmas Bundt

Made to fill a hole in my day when data was being transferred from my old computer to my new one, this cake was thrown together – I had to swap out a load of the ingredients because I didn’t have the original recommended ones and I didn’t have the right tins (mini bundts) so used my favourite ‘spruce tree’ mould but then had to guess on the cooking time. Imagine my surprise when I tasted it and…..it’s really, really gorgeous (dare I say perhaps even nicer than my Christmas cake….jury’s out on that one!) It definitely has a nod towards Christmas cake with the spices and the fruit, but it’s light as well as moist and just very, very lovely – thrown together in minutes; demolished in seconds!

Serves 12

What you need…

1 x 2.5 litre bundt tin

1 x baking sheet

Olive oil, for greasing

100g sultanas

110g raisins

80g currants

150g dates, chopped

40g walnuts, chopped

125ml brandy

150g butter, softened

135g soft dark brown sugar

2 large, happy eggs, beaten

185g plain flour

¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 rounded teaspoon mixed spice

60ml milk

Icing sugar, for decorating

What to do…

Tip the fruit, nuts and brandy into a small saucepan over a moderate heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the brandy has been absorbed. Cool completely.

Preheat your oven to 140˚c / 280˚f / gas 1 and slide in your baking sheet.

Tip the butter and sugar into your food processor and whizz until pale and creamy (6 minutes or so). Add the eggs, a little at a time, whizzing to combine. Pour in the milk and whizz again to combine.

Use a piece of olive oil drenched kitchen roll to thoroughly grease your bundt tin.

Tip the fruit mixture, flour, bicarbonate of soda and mixed spice into a large bowl and mix well, ensuring the fruit is thoroughly covered with flour. Tip the whole lot into your bundt tin and pop it into the oven on the baking tray, baking for 50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Cool in the tin. Use a knife to gently prise away the edges of the cake from the sides of the tin and then invert it out onto a pretty serving plate (some banging of the mould may be required!)

Sift over icing sugar ‘snow’ and serve. Light, delicious and ever so festive.

Inspired by…

The Mail on Sunday ‘You’ magazine

How easy….

Really quick and easy – a great last minute Christmas cake!

 

 

 

Turkey Wellington

 

This is a brilliant way to serve turkey if you just fancy the breast – it can be made a day in advance (so therefore reducing the pressure if you’re entertaining a crowd), looks and tastes amazing; and the meat is really moist. Thumbs up all around really!

Serves 8-10

What you need…

for the cranberry sauce

The following fabulously festive, tangy sauce makes more than enough for the Turkey Wellington, to serve as its accompaniment at the meal and perhaps, to get out again with cold turkey and gammon slices the next day.

300g fresh cranberries

200g caster sugar

45ml Kirsch

75ml water

for the wellington

1.6 kg turkey breast, skin off

Sea salt and black pepper

Olive oil

1 large bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked

Cranberry sauce (as above)

6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped

3 sprigs rosemary

600g mixed mushrooms, cleaned

1 knob butter

2 teaspoons truffle oil

1 egg, lightly beaten

What to do…

For the cranberry sauce, chuck all the ingredients into a saucepan on a moderate heat and let it all bubble away until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes), stirring every now and then.

Squish the berries with the back of a wooden spoon and then transfer the whole lot to a serving bowl. Leave to cool (the sauce will thicken up to an almost jelly-like consistency). It is now ready to use. This can be made several days in advance – it keeps really well in the fridge for a week.

For your wellington, preheat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Place the turkey breast upside down on a board and gently slice into the natural join of the breast muscle to open it out and make a pocket – Jamie says to just do this but for some reason I managed to make two pockets – it doesn’t really matter – read on and you’ll see why.  Rub olive oil all over the breast and particularly in the pocket(s). Season well and then sprinkle over half the thyme leaves, again ensuring that the pocket(s) get lots. Push cranberry sauce into the pocket(s), poking it in as far as it will go and filling up the space. Fold it back into shape and use cocktail sticks to ‘stitch’ the pocket seams together. If you can, roll the turkey breast up, swiss roll style. If it won’t comply, don’t worry about it – mine didn’t!

Either way, transfer the turkey breast to a baking tin making sure that it is covered in oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the remaining thyme. Cover with foil and pop in the oven for 60-70 minutes until just cooked through – using a thermometer, you want it to be 72°c at the thickest point. Once cooked, set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, pop the bacon into your food processor and whizz until chopped up quite small. Splash some olive oil into a large frying pan on a medium heat and, using a spatula to get every last bit of bacon out of the processor bowl, add the bacon to the pan, cooking for 5-10 minutes until golden and really crispy. Strip the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and add to the pan for a minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and rosemary from the pan and set aside to cool.

Pop the mushrooms in your food processor and whizz until they are chopped up quite small. Add another splash of oil to the frying pan if there isn’t enough fat left behind by the bacon, tip in the mushrooms, a splash of water and sauté for 10 minutes. Melt in the knob of butter and set the mushrooms side to cool. Once cooled, season with salt and pepper mix in the truffle oil. Taste the mushrooms to see if you want any more seasoning or oil.

When all the elements for the Turkey Wellington are cool, prepare for the assembly! Lightly butter a baking tin large enough for the breast.

Dust your work surface with flour and roll out one 500g block of puff pastry so that it is roughly 6cm bigger than the turkey breast all round. Roll out the second pastry block so that it is large enough to cover the breast and some.

On the smaller piece of pastry, spread out 1/3 of the mushrooms onto the middle to cover an area the same size as your turkey breast. Remove the cocktail sticks and place the breast on top. Spread the remaining mushrooms all over the top of the turkey breast, packing it in and smoothing it out as you go. Sprinkle on the crispy bacon and rosemary, then brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg. Lay the second sheet of pastry over the top, gently mould it around the shape of the breast, pushing all of the air out and seal together. Trim the edges to around 4cm, then pull, twist, tuck and pinch the pastry together.

Brush the whole thing with beaten egg and shove it in the fridge uncovered  overnight until you’re ready to cook. Clear up, pour wine, relax.

When it’s time to indulge, cook at 180°c / 350°f / gas 4 for 50 – 60 minutes or until risen, puffy and beautifully golden. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving this fabulous, all dressed up bird! Serve with turkey gravy and enjoy – you can’t fail to – absolutely gorgeous!

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver showed me the Turkey Wellington recipe on his ‘Christmas with Bells On’ series and the Cranberry Sauce is care of Nigella.

How easy…

It is easy but it takes time and patience. The joy of it is preparation a day ahead of the actual eating – it makes it worth every moment of prep and it really is very delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cocoa Rum Dessert

This boozy, moussy choco-oozy dessert is gorgeously decadent and quite unlike anything I have ever eaten. Crunchy amaretti biscuits on the bottom give way to a velvety chocolatey middle and then a silken caramel topping…all with a distinct but delicate infusion of rum – fabulous! (And it’s easy and you can make it ahead of when you want to indulge in it).

Serves 10

What you need…

1 x 1.5 litre loaf tin

1 x medium, deep-sided roasting tin

100g caster sugar

50g brown sugar

4 large, happy eggs

500ml full fat milk

3 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder

50ml golden rum

200g amaretti biscuits (the crunchy ones, not soft), crumbled

Crème fraîche, to serve

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 160˚c / 325˚f / gas 3.

Melt the caster sugar in a small frying pan (I like to use copper for this sort of thing) over a moderate heat until you get a rich, chestnutty-coloured caramel – swirl the pan to help the sugar melt but don’t touch it or stir it!

Pour the caramel into your loaf tin and tilt it around until the base is evenly covered. Set aside.

Into your food processor tip the brown sugar and eggs and whizz for around 3 minutes or until the mixture is pale and slightly thickened. Tip in the milk, cocoa and rum and whizz for 30 seconds. Remove the mixing blade and then use a spoon to stir through the amaretti biscuits.

Tip the whole lot into your loaf tin. Pop the loaf tin into the roasting tin and fill the latter up with just-boiled water from the kettle. Carefully transfer to the middle of your oven and bake for 1 hour.

Remove and leave to cool in the tin, then pop into the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours, or until needed.

To serve, carefully run a knife around the edge of the tin and then invert the dessert onto a pretty serving plate, spooning over any caramel left behind in the tin.

Slice and serve with a dollop of crème fraîche – decadently indulgently delicious!

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver who in turn was given this dessert by Baroness Susanna in Turin!

How easy…

Very and it looks and tastes like waaaaaay so much more effort was required.

Christmas Rocky Road

Wow! This stuff is just gorgeous and completely addictive. Crunchiness mixed with mellow, slightly melted mallow and the joy that is the mix of chocolate and golden syrup. Nuts, glace cherries and amaretti biscuits all combine to create something that can only be described as a seasonal joy! Just lovely!!!

Makes around 30+ bite-sized poppables!

What you need…

1 x 23 x 29cm-ish baking tin, lined with foil

250g dark chocolate, broken into chunks

150g milk chocolate, broken into chunks

175g butter

4 tablespoons golden syrup

200g amaretti bisuits (not the soft ones)

150g brazil nuts, shelled

150g glace cherries

125g mini marshmallows

Icing sugar for dusting

What to do…

In a large saucepan, tip in your chocolate chunks, butter and syrup and let the whole lot melt together over a low heat.

Meanwhile, in your food processor, fit the cutting blade and whizz the brazil nuts to rubble. Tip them out and set aside. Then do the same with your amaretti biscuits – it won’t take very long so just a quick whizz or you’ll get dust rather than rubble!

Once everything has melted, take the pan off the heat and tip in your nuts, amaretti, cherries and marshmallows. Gently stir the lot so that everything is evenly covered in the chocolate mix.

Tip the lot into your foil-lined tin. Run a spatula over the top so that it’s flatish. Pop in the fridge for 2 hours.

Invert your rocky road out of the foil-lined tin and cut into bite-sized ‘poppable’ squares. Stack up so it’s roughly rocky-road-mountain-like, dress with daft figures and dredge with icing sugar. Serve to everyone’s absolute delight! Just keep popping them in – it’ll be hard not to!!!!

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

Child’s play!

Delia’s Classic Christmas Cake

If you’re planning on making your own Christmas cake this year, then don’t leave it much longer: the cake – which is so easy to make and simply gorgeous – needs feeding (with brandy) every 10 days or so between now-ish and the main event in December. Moist, laden with fruit and festive flavour, this recipe – another one inspired by Delia Smith – is fabulous and again, the smell as it’s cooking is heaven-scent! Enjoy!

What to do…

For the full recipe, type ‘Christmas Cake’ into the search box in the top right hand corner of my home page

Makin’ Mincemeat!

Once you’ve tried homemade mincemeat, you won’t buy the shop versions again – I promise! Made last week, this recipe takes a bit of prep the night before you want to cook it and then you have to be in the house for the 3 hours that it nestles in the oven but…oh what a joy: the whole house is just filled with aroma of Christmas – festively fabulous!

Anyway, get your jars sterilised and make this gorgeous Christmas treat, a recipe that is courtesy of Delia Smith.

For the full recipe, just type ‘mincemeat’ into the search box in the top of the home page and Delia’s recipe of festive deliciousness will appear! Enjoy!

mincemeat uses w

Miso-Marinated Cod with Stir-Fry

A great mid-week family supper that is super-quick to make and has stunning Umami-ish flavours – tangy, tantalising and tasty; it’s gently spicy rather than powerfully hot and so good that I’ve had it three times in two weeks!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x baking tray, lined with foil

4 x bamboo skewers

650g skinless cod/haddock fillets, cut into cubes

4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced

4cm ginger, peeled and sliced thinly

1 teaspoon dried, crushed chillis

2 x 300g packs of your favourite vegetable stir-fry

1 tablespoon rapeseed oil

2 tablespoon hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

Sea salt and black pepper

Lime wedges, to serve (optional)

for the marinade

2 tablespoon miso paste

4 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons mirin

4 tablespoons light soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

What to do…

First to the marinade: combine all the ingredients in a bowl, season with a little black pepper. Add the fish, then cover and chill for anything between 15 minutes and overnight (I did an hour).

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

Thread the fish onto skewers, then arrange on your baking tray.

Drizzle a tablespoon of the remaining marinade over each skewer and pop into the oven until cooked though (10minutes) turning half way through cooking.

Heat the rapeseed oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the spring onions, ginger and chilli and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Tip in the vegetables, hoisin and sweet chilli sauces and stir-fry for 5-6 minutes, or until just tender. Serve with the fish skewers and extra lime wedges for squeezing over. Absolutely delightful and prepared in minutes!

Inspired by…

Tesco.com

How easy…

Ridiculously!

Blackberry and Blueberry ‘No-Bake’ Cheesecake

Serves 10 -12

An absolute ‘wow’ of a decadent dessert that could take central stage at any dinner as well as a cheeky family lunch! A crispy, rich ‘Oreo’ base is perfect to underpin the light, fluffy and fabulously fruity flavour of the ‘mousse’ that is the mainstay of this delicious cheesecake; and all topped with a glossy, slightly tart yet sweet jelly that is bursting with the Autumnal flavours that are blackberries. Just yummy!

What you need…

1 x deep, 20cm round cake tin, liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

60g butter, melted

250g Oreo biscuits

200g blueberries

350g blackberries

150g caster sugar

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, separated

100ml water

400g full-fat cream cheese

250g mascarpone

300ml double cream

3 sheets fine-leaf gelatine

to decorate

Blueberries and blackberries, (optional)

What to do…

Whizz the Oreo biscuits in your food processor until quite fine crumbs. Pour in the melted butter and whizz to evenly combine. Tip into your cake tin, spread evenly over the bottom and then use the back of a spoon to press firmly into place. Chill.

Meanwhile, heat the berries, 25g of the sugar, all of the lemon juice and the water in a saucepan until bubbling. Bubble gently for around 15 minutes or until the blackberries are super mushy.

Push the fruit mixture through a sieve, using the back of a spoon to press down hard, extracting as much juice as possible. Either discard the purée or cover it and chill it to make mini blackberry and apple pies or spread on toast (like I did!) Back to the recipe: cover and cool the berry juice.

When you’re ready to assemble, tip the cream cheese, mascarpone, double cream, remaining sugar and all of the lemon zest into a large bowl and use an electric handheld whisk to beat until really stiff. Pour in 150ml of the berry juice (reserving the rest) and whisk again to incorporate. Plop the ‘mousse’ onto the base and spread evenly and level. Pop into the fridge and chill for 1 hour.

To the jelly: soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 275ml berry juice until hot (if you’re a bit short on the juice, just top it up with a little water). Remove from the heat, squeeze the excess water from the gelatine leaves and add to the juice. Stir to dissolve. Cool for 15 minutes and then pour over the ‘mousse’. Carefully, pop your cheesecake back into the fridge for at least 6 hours, but ideally overnight.

To serve, gently release your cheesecake from its tin confines and peel away the parchment paper. Transfer to a pretty serving plate and decorate with blueberries and blackberries. Cut into wedges of gorgeousness and simply savour every delicious mouthful. Go for a second piece!

Tip…

Pick your blackberries, wash them, dry on kitchen towel and then freeze in bags – no need to lay them out flat on trays

Inspired by…

Good Housekeeping

How easy…

It takes time but you can do it in stages and go off and do other things whilst the different elements chill and cool. Other than that, it’s dead easy to make, requires no baking and is sensational. Also, you have to make it the day before you want it, which I love.

 

 

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.