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cooking Aperol Spritz Jelly

April 25, 2015

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I love how you can get prosecco by the glass now, pretty much everywhere in London. Sure, you can’t find a room in a flat in for less than a million pounds, but the whole prosecco-by-the-glass-thing I’m finding helps soften the blow.

I wasn’t sure whether making Aperol Spritz jelly was either ingenius to the core, or kind of DISGUSTING. Anyway, I made several, then decided it was genius. Jelly & Fizz = lolz. I suggest if you’re making them as an aperitiv, add an olive to each glass. If you’re having them as a dessert add a blood orange segment and a dollop of mascarpone.

Aperol Spritz Jelly (makes one big jelly or several little)

1 bottle prosecco (750ml)

200ml Aperol

5 gelatine leaves

100g caster sugar

green olives (optional)

Make them:

Combine about 500ml of the prosecco with the Aperol, and set aside

Soak your gelatine leaves in cold water for 5min until they’re soft and wobbly

Heat up the remaining prosecco and the sugar in a pan until nearly boiling

Remove the hot liquid from the heat and whisk in the wobbly gelatine until it’s all dissolved

Gently whisk the hot gelatine liquid into the cold prosecco and Aperol. If you stir really gently, you won’t loose the bubbles

Pour the liquid into glasses or your mould. If you want the olive in there, just pour half way up the glass - chill it for about an hour keeping your reserved liquid out of the fridge so it doesn’t set, then add the olive and fill to the top with the leftover mixture

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cooking spiced pumpkin pancakes

October 13, 2014

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Halloween is so very deeply American, that I feel any recipe surrounding it I feel has to be. American pancakes are my guilty pleasure. These ones, made with pureed squash or pumpkin are hellish moist and fluffy. Make sure you have these with strong filter coffee and pile ‘em high.

The fundamental rule for perfect pancakes is that your pan MUST be non-stick. Use a small one too for a good shape. Batter can always be tweaked and adjusted, but a bad pan = bad pan(cakes).

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Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes with Bacon, Maple Syrup and Pecans (make about 6 big fat ones)

250g cooked butternut squash or pumpkin. The flesh scooped out and mashed with a fork or pulsed

150g self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon / a grating of nutmeg / 1 tsp of ground ginger (or use mixed spice)

1 egg

280ml whole milk

1 tbsp melted butter

To serve:

grilled streaky bacon

toasted pecans

maple syrup

Make them:

  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and spice

  • Separately whisk together the pureed squash, egg, milk and melted butter

  • Beat the wet goods into the dry to form a smooth batter

  • The batter wants to be fairly thick but still a droppable consistency

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  • Heat your pan until good and hot. Spoon a ladle full into the pan and turn the heat down. The trick with these pancakes is to cook them low so they cook inside properly

  • Wait until bubbles start to appear (about 3/4 minutes)…

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… then flip and cook on the other side

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Grill your bacon and toast your pecans, then stack high and douse with maple syrup

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cooking apple plate pie

September 22, 2014

plate

I have an ‘apple pie Mum’. Not that she’s ever stayed home and been domestic in any way. More in that she’ll…sometimes makes an apple pie :/

Her pies have gone through various alterations throughout the decades. They’ve been deep-filled with huge chucks of sour apple, shallow-filled with sweet apple mush, and often billowing with puff pastry. There’s nearly always been a great hulking piece of cinnamon lurking in there, shedding it’s bark.

I bought her a Japanese mandolin for last Christmas, and she now she makes this kind — a plate pie, which has layers of perfectly tart sliced apple inside and a sweet pastry crust.

It’s the best so far. It’s the kind of pie that you’d see in Tom and Jerry, resting on the windowsill. It also doesn’t require any additional sugar.

I didn’t take enough photos when making it, but basically you just layer up the apples until you’ve used them all. Think French apple torte. The recipe feeds about 6

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To Make it

6 granny smith apples

about 2 tbsp marmalade for daubing

1 block sweet pastry — my recipe is here, or just buy it — I like this one from Sains

zest of 1 lemon

cinnamon for dusting

1 egg (for the wash)

GO GO GO

  • Roll out half the pastry and layer it over a heatproof plate. Cut out a plate-sized circle of greaseproof and cover with baking beans
  • Bake for about 20mins, then remove the beans and paper, and cook blind for another 10. You may need to put some foil around the outer edges if they colour quicker than the middle
  • Brush the cooked pastry with egg white and leave to cool completely
  • Peel and slice the apples thinly with a mandolin
  • Layer up the slices over the pastry, dabbing marmelade here and there as you go, and dusting with cinnamon and lemon zest. It will seem like you have too much apple, but build it high - they cook down
  • Roll out the top layer and squidge the sides in. Don’t worry about it looking dead neat — this is a humble pie. Egg wash the edges to the base

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  • Egg wash the top and cut a cross. Bake for about half an hour or until it looks like the pie from Tom and Jerry

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These are the instructions I included with my mothers mandolin — she’s cut herself every time she’s used it, of course.

mandy

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cooking tarta de santiago (flourless almond cake)

August 19, 2014

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This is an old school Galician almond cake. I think it’s invention was in the Middle Ages. The translation is cake of St James and it’s normally quite a religious looking confection, with it’s cross of St. James stencilled over the top in icing sugar. You can bake the filling in pastry, or have it as a cake, as it is here.

I choose to forgo the sugar cross, but apart from that the recipe is pretty true to the original. Oh except I swap almond essence for vanilla, because I think satan himself may have invented almond essence, horrible stuff.

This cake is flourless, so get stuck in if you’re gluten-free. It has a lovely sticky, nutty, cloudy crumb.

I like to serve it with macerated strawberries and thick cream. And amen, it’s delish.

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Make it!

- 250g whole almonds, blitzed in a processor until you get rubble-like almond flour


- 6 organic eggs, separated


- 250g caster sugar


- the zest of 1 orange


- the zest of 1 lemon


- 4 drops of vanilla extract

plus butter for greasing, flour for dusting, icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.

Butter and flour a 25cm diameter cake tin or line it with a paper cake liner. Traditionally this cake should be quite flat and wide, but I prefer a less wide tin because I like the stickiness you get from a taller cake).

Beat the yolks and sugar until they are pale and paint-like in consistency, so you can’t feel any sugar grains left. Add the orange zest, lemon zest and vanilla extract and ground almonds. Mix well.

Whisk the egg whites in a super clean mixer (wipe a lemon in the bowl to get rid of any grease) until really stiff. Fold through the almond mixture in two parts. The almond mix is quite thick, so you’ll have to work the egg whites in a lightly as you can. You should end up with a really voluptuous batter.

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Pour into your cake tin and bake for about 40mins. Leave to cool before turning out, and dust with icing sugar

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Once you’ve turned it out, turn it the other way over, so you get a nice even surface for dusting

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strawbs

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cooking victoria plum pudding

August 11, 2014

Tis the season to buy Victoria plums.

basin

But if the ones you’ve bought are anything like the ones I bought this weekend, they’re a bit watery and sour. Good for nothing but stewing and topping with sponge. Which is exactly what this recipe is. Plum sponge - I like the way is sounds. Kind of olde Englishe. You can imagine a Tudor wench serving it up. Make it in a basin and spoon it out, then had with pouring cream.

This sounds wintery I know, but it’s hellish light. The plums don’t have shittonnes of sugar in, and the sponge is made with 00’ flour so it’s like eating a hot cloud.

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Victoria Plum Pudding (serves 4)

Prep. Time: 15mins ** **Cooking Time: 30mins

  • a reasonable amount of plums, stoned and halved (sorry, didn’t weigh them at the time, maybe a pound or so)
  • 1 stem ginger (the stuff in syrup) grated
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g flour (I used 00)
  • 100g butter
  • 1 egg, beaten

Make it:

  • Butter a pudding basin and pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.
  • Stew the plums and ginger with a tbsp of sugar for 5 mins in a pan, until the juices start to leak out
  • Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. The more you beat, the fluffier it gets.
  • Add a whole egg, beat in.
  • Fold in flour and add a tbsp of milk.
  • Place the plums in your buttered basin, spoon batter over the top. Bake for about 45mins or until the cake’s risen and is golden.

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cooking watermelon and campari jelly

July 18, 2014

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I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.

I don’t think you’re ready because it’s watermelon and Campari flavoured.

How do you juice a watermelon? You don’t. You buy juice. Rubicon do it.

As the joy of jelly is as much about how it looks as how it tastes, suspending the seeds from a real watermelon makes it joyfully pretty. Campari reminds me of holidays in Italy, and it’s redness and slight bitterness make this a jelly for grown-ups. I know not everyone feels the same, so if it’s not your thing, just leave it out.

Find the recipe here

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cooking rose and cardamom kulfi with pistachios

July 11, 2014

kulfi

When I was a small child I got terribly upset about a lot of things. Things like not wanting to wear shoes, not wanting to put a cardigan on, y’know, quite rightly very distressing stuff. My mum used mini milk ice-creams as a soother; they always helped dry the tears.

I am now considerably older and, while my current upset is no longer cardigan-related, Kulfi - an eggless Indian ice-cream acts like a giant, perfumed mini milk - a small, dainty reminder that things turn out ok eventually.

birds eye

I want to insist you make this fragrant, pretty thing. It’s beautifully perfumed and moreover you don’t need to whip, churn, stress. No ice-cream maker required. I hands down prefer it to ice-cream.

You can buy kulfi moulds which are long and pointy, but if you don’t have them, as I didn’t, then just use lolly moulds or small metal pudding moulds.

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Find the recipe here

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cooking hot chocolate, the Italian way

June 26, 2014

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I felt like the majority of my time in Sicily was spent topping up my liquid levels. You know how it is when it’s weirdly hot, it throws you. Emergency bottles of san pel. are strapped to the body like weapons.

Then your energy levels are low and you need coffee.

Then more water to counterbalance the coffee.

Then a little Aperol spritz because you’re on holiday. Then more aperol spritz because you’re not driving, then more because it’s nice. Then after a while you’ll need ANOTHER coffee — then more emergency water. It’s a time consuming business. A portable seline drip would be ideal for this sort of situation.

The only thing I found difficult to ‘drink’ in Sicily was the cioccolata calda, which is so thick it’s more akin to pudding.

Italian hot choco is a thick, dark custard-like mass of silky chocolate liquid. I thought I’d write this up because having wanted pudding the other night, and with no means to make it — I made this and my cravings were satisfied. It’s got a real nursery type comfort about it.

If you like a bit of salt with your sweet, sprinkle a tiny bit of sea salt atop before spooning in.

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choc

Find the recipe here

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cooking slutty pear tarts

May 15, 2014

pear

Some people find pastry stressful. I understand why. Lining a tart tin properly can be awkward. So this one’s for you.

Tart case, cookie cutters, baking beans, greaseproof paper – be gone. All you need for this recipe is a pair of hands and a rolling pin.

The fruit steams inside the pastry, which stays crisp because it’s cooked upside down, much like a tart tatin. You don’t even need sugar or butter because the pear caramelises its own juices on the baking tray.

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I have used this method so far with plums and pears and it’s worked brilliantly. Serve with whatever, but if you’re trying it with pears then chocolate sauce is a no-brainer.

For excellent sweet pastry, I suggest this recipe (divide accordingly.

birdseye

Find the full recipe here

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cooking chocolate berry bakewell

May 06, 2014

What’s better than a Bakewell tart? I’m not sure I can answer that question, but this Chocolate Berry Bakewell tart is just as good. Technically it’s not a traditional bakewell, the jam layer is replaced with whole berries but it has the other elements of a Bakewell, only kind of easier.

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If you haven’t made frangipane before, then let me explain. It’s an almond butter filling, that when baked envelopes whatever fruit you’ve chosen. The frangipane rises and cuddles the berries and forms a tart that is perfectly cakey and moist. It’s very easy to make and hard to fuck up.

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I used frozen berries, but fresh cherries would be even better. Sadly Morrison’s didn’t have any in :(

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Find the recipe here

NB Here is the recipe for the best sweet pastry in the entire world. The recipe in the link doesn’t include a pastry recipe because it’s the slutty way of doing things, but if you’re not a slut see below :)

For the sweet pastry: - 250g plain flour - 100g icing sugar - 100g unsalted butter - 1 egg

Blitz the flour and icing sugar in a food processor, add the butter and finally the egg. Bring the dough together with your hands, cling and refrigerate for over 3 hours, best is overnight.

To bake the tart cases, roll the pastry really thin, no thicker than a 50p. Line the tins and fill with greaseproof and baking beans. Refrigerate for a further 2 hours to prevent it shrinking when it bakes.

Bake on 180C for about 20 mins, then remove the greaseproof for a further 10. Wash the baked cases with egg white and allow to cool. Click the recipe link above for the chocolate frangipane filling.

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cooking coconut nests

April 24, 2014

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There are some people that don’t like chocolate. There are also people who eat too much chocolate over the Easter period and never want to look at chocolate again until…the following week. These little coconut nests are the antidote to all that Easter chocolate.

If I had it my way I’d have pudding after every meal. But we’re not really allowed to do that are we, being, you know, responsible adults n all. Shame. Tiny little coconut nests aren’t really pudding though are they? They’re just incredibly delicious, bite size coconut morsels of joy – crunchy on the outside with soft and pillowy innards. They are embarrassingly easy to make and don’t require any special ingredients other than desiccated coconut and I’m pretty sure my local corner shop does that. Oh and they’re also gluten free!

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Find the recipe here

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cooking blood orange-meringue posset

March 31, 2014

posset

For years and years I have made the most Traditional of Old English desserts – lemon posset as a fall back, trusty pudding. I am lazy, so any dessert that can be made with only three (yes, I said it, three!) ingredients is going to be my friend. Lemons, check. Sugar, check. Cream, check.

But, as with most things done repeatedly for years and years, it becomes reliable and a tad dull (we are still talking about desserts right?). I decided it was time to get zesty and give the posset a makeover. What I came up with was this - a hybrid between a lemon meringue pie and a posset, but made with blood oranges as well as lemon..yeah. Anyway, it’s really delicious and as easy as lemon meringue (non-pie) to make. Nice with biscuits of various descriptions.

Note: You will need a blow torch. If you don’t have one – just get one. You can pretend you’re in Flashdance AND they also come in handy for things like chargrilling peppers, barbecuing corn and getting things out of moulds.

Find the full recipe here

posset

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cooking Black and White pancakes

March 04, 2014

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How do you like your pancakes in the morning? I like mine wafer thin, piled high and doused in lemon and sugar. Call me boring, I can handle it.

But this year I have turned to one of my favourite cakes for this years inspiration – Guinness and Chocolate.

sophie

I love the drama of the black vs white. The ‘black’ comes in the form of a standard American pancake batter but with dark cocoa and Guinness. The ‘white’ comes in the form of a cream cheese sauce.

If you don’t like Guinness, don’t worry, no-one does except my weird next door neighbour Brian. The Guinness takes away the sickly sweetness of pure chocolate flavour and leaves a dark chocolate undertone with a slight bitterness that goes really nicely with the milky sauce.

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For the full recipe go here

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cooking coconut rice pudding with blackened mango

February 27, 2014

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There are two kinds of pudding in the world.

The first is pudding we make to impress. We’re talking meringue towers, ice-cream castles, things made with choux pastry.

The other is the sort that you eat from a bowl whilst standing up, alone.

This pudding is the latter.

It’s soft, nourishing and delicately spiced. Proper familiar nursery style comfort, with a nod towards the tropics. The best part is, aside from an the occasional stir, it makes itself.

The real reason I made this the other day is because I was going out. My hangovers have been fucking horrendous of late and my grandma (who is basically an alcoholic) told me to avoid hangover by drinking a glass of milk before departure.

Well I didn’t have any milk. It was 10pm. I did however happen to have all you need for this rice pudding. So there I was, my shiny pants on, full eyeliner, eating rice pudding alone in my tiny kitchen.

For the record, the glass of milk thing does work. This recipe doesn’t (prevent hangover). But it is nice.

Click below for full recipe

HERE

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cooking mini plum pie

July 28, 2013

Plums are in season!

The imported ones, the deep purple, shiny round ones aren’t all that to eat, but great for cooking as they hold their shape and become sweeter and more plummy.

plums drawn

I had leftover pastry in the fridge, so came up with a 5-minute pie. Pretty self explanatory; half a plum, wrapped in pastry, sprinkled with sugar and that’s it, maybe cinnamon if you have it.

You can easily use shop bought pastry here, ‘saxbys dessert pastry’ is the best, I’m not sure if they do it anymore as I haven’t seen it in ages.

Or for homemade just mix 90g of softened butter with a pinch of sugar and salt. Add 180g of plain flour, 2 egg yolks and 3 tbsp of cold water. Mix until you have a sand-like mix, then bring it together with your hands. Clingfilm and leave in the fridge for an hour, then you’re good to go. When ready to bake, simply make a small ball of pastry, roll it out and mould it around the halved plum (this is oddly enjoyable). About 15 mins in a 180C/350F/gas5 oven should do it.

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cooking Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

June 15, 2013

Peanut butter cookies

I went to Gail’s Bakery the other day, not one of their many cafes dotted around London, but the restaurant branch in the West End, a one off, where they offer small sharing plates, cocktails etc. It was a nice enough meal, but one thing that stood out were the cookies that they offered up for dessert, ‘fresh from the oven’ alongside a mini bottle of ice cold milk. I instantly became an 8-year old with an American accent, and I liked it.

So I’ve basically copied Gail’s, everything about it, even the straw. Guilty. EXCEPT my cookies have peanut butter in them as well as chocolate. So that makes it ok.

This basic cookie mix can have anything added, nuts, different flavoured chocolate, spices, fruit. This one is quite American-sweet-chewy.

You’ll need:

Peanut butter cookie ingredients

250g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

140g unsalted butter

200g dark brown soft sugar

100g caster sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla essence

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 bar of dark chocolate (I use 85%)

2 tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter

Start by sifting together the flour, salt and bicarb and leave to one side. Melt the butter in a small pan or microwave and mix it together with the peanut butter, brown sugar and caster sugar in a large bowl. You should have a gooey, sugary paste.

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Beat in the vanilla essence, egg and yolk until creamy. Add the flour mix and stir well to combine. You should have a soft dough that comes together in a ball easily.

dough

Add your roughly chopped chocolate and stir in. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for at least an hour. This mix can be kept in the fridge for about 2 weeks, or frozen.

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When ready to bake, form a lump of dough about the size of a ping pong ball, roll it into a ball in your hand, put it on a lined baking tray and squash it slightly (leaving space for it to spread out). Bake on 170°C / 340°F for 10-15 mins, until browning round the edges. Chocolate cookies

One should really leave them to cool on a wire rack, but personally I think they’re best eaten warm with a glass of something milky, Gail’s would agree, right Gail’s?

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cooking Chocolate pots

July 22, 2012

Chocolate pot

The chocolate pot- a classic. Maybe not very ‘out there’ in terms of trendiness, but you can bling it up very easily with a sophisticated biscuit (rosemary biscotti kind of thing) and they look lovely in little cups.

Gu has made millions from all things chilled and chocolate, but there is something slightly depressing about shop-bought mousse. Reminds me of primary school.

So how about whipping up (literally) your very own gu.

Like all chilled desserts, it’s a good one to have up your sleeve, as they can be made in advance and last for up to a week in the fridge, to do what you like with…

Partridge

To make about seven pots you’ll need:

  • 350ml Double Cream
  • 250ml Full Fat Milk
  • 350g Good Quality Dark Chocolate (I like them really dark, at LEAST 70%)
  • 5 Egg Yolks
  • 75g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Egg Whites

Eggs and chocolate

Ok first chop up your chocolate into small chunks, trying not to eat too many of them and set aside in a large bowl.

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Heat your milk and cream, until just boiled and pour over the chocolate and just leave for the chocolate to melt.

Next over a ban marie (a pan of simmering water with a heatproof bowl over the top) whisk your egg yolks and sugar. I don’t own a heatproof bowl yet, so I’ve just used a little saucepan…

Eggs and sugar Whisk

You’ll need to whisk continuously until the yolk thickens and lightens in colour.

Whisk

What this is doing is creating a sabayon, which thickens and sets the mousse. Keep whisking until the egg is thick, like paint, and hot to touch (that’s when you know the egg is cooked).

Whisk

Now return to your chocolate milk mixture, give it a good whisk to ensure all the chocolate is mixed in and pour over your sabayon. Mix thoroughly.

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Now whisk your egg whites with a little sugar (about 20g) to soft peaks, but don’t beat the hell out of them, if you do you’ll end up not being able to mix them in to the chocolate properly.

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Fold your whites into your chocolate sababyon mix. Try to keep your movements light and gentle so that you keep the air in the mix, but make sure the whites are fully mixed in.

Mixture

Now pour into your desired pots and chill for a few hours, best is overnight.

It’s up to you how you serve these, on their own with raspberries is lovely, but it you want to pimp them up a bit you could serve them with rosemary shortbread, caramelised oranges, coconut quinels, or my personal favourite sprinkle with ground coffee or grated pistachio.

Chocolate pot

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cooking Summer Puddings

May 30, 2012

Summer is here, it’s time to ditch the suet and stodge and embrace all things summery. Dessert-wise, this means berries.

Summer pudding, to me, has always been an annual ritual. It being brought to the table signifies the start of summer, in much the same fashion as a Christmas pudding, everyone gleeful and whooping. Hope I don’t sound like Sophie Dahl when I say that. I promise you, I don’t sound anything like Sophie Dahl.

This is a camp looking pudding, bright pink, it’s got a real celebratory feel to it. Its main constituents are berries, sugar and bread, so no fat or eggs, it’s positively good for you, yay!

Here, I’ve made individual puddings, they look pretty and hold their shape well, but you can make a large one with a large pudding basin, in the same way.

To make 6 you’ll need:

One loaf of good quality white bread One packet of frozen mixed berries One packet of frozen raspberries Icing Sugar A slash of grenadine or creme de cassis Firstly, slice your bread. You want fairly thick slices, removing the crusts. If the bread is slightly stale, even better.

Cut out 12 discs of bread using your pudding mould as a template. So you have 2 discs per pudding.

You will also need to make, from one slice of bread, two rectangles, to line the sides. So, lil recap. Per pudding; two rectangles and two circles of bread.

Now line your pudding moulds with cling film, leaving enough overlay to wrap over the top.

On to the filling.

Put your frozen fruit into a large saucepan and slowly heat. Now, you can use fresh fruit, and I’m sure that would be absolutely delicious, BUT it would be expensive, and frankly, I think frozen works just as well, because the berries hold their shape better.

I haven’t put quantities of icing sugar, just add a good 4 heaped tablespoons and taste it. You want a nice balance between sharp and sweet, so don’t overdo the sugar. Add your grenadine, or creme de cassis, a nice glug, just to enhance the flavour, but you don’t have to, it’s not essential.

The aim of heating the fruit is just to release the juices, you don’t want the fruit to loose its shape and become a big old mush, so once the fruit is heated and mixed with the sugar, take off the heat and drain through a sieve, retaining the juice.

Dip half of your bread disc into the berrie juice and line the mould, with juice side facing down. Do the same with your two strips of bread (juice on the outside edge).

I can’t lie, it is messy work. If you’re not organised, the kitchen can end up looking like a scene out of American Physco.

Fill in the mould so that there aren’t any gaps in the soaked bread. Gently press the bread to the sides and fill with berries.

Finish with the remaining bread disc. There’s no need to soak this, as it will absorb the juices from the berries once it’s pressed.

Cover with the cling film and refridgerate, you’ll need to weigh it down with something heavy, I’ve used a chutney jar and a pestle and morter, as they were the only heavy things that fitted the fridge.

Leave overnight and turn out by pulling on the clingfilm. It should come out like a treat. There is something incredibly satisfying about doing this. But possibly it’s just me being weird.

Serve with pouring cream and some fresh berries. If it doesn’t make the recipient smile, then I suggest they get some help.

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cooking Chocolate Coconut Quinels

May 21, 2012

Coconut and chocolate, a good combo, but sometimes a wee bit sickly if over-sweetened.

These little babies are like sophisticated bounties, as they have all the joys of coconut, but are teamed with dark dark chocolate which brings a bitterness that works really well. A ‘grown up bounty bar’ if you like. Very good after dinner with coffee, or as a gift for a sweet granny, or as a replacement for the long dead forerro rocher. I’d recommend you use as darker chocolate as you can, I make them with 80-90%, probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but what can I say? I live on the edge.

The best thing is there’s hardly any need for a recipe as such because it’s just a list of ingredients mixed together. Now that’s my kind of recipe man.

Get your mitts on some:

  • 200g Desiccated coconut
  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 50g Melted Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Yolks
  • Dark Chocolate (70%)

Now mix together the coconut, sugar, eggs, yolks and melted butter.

The mix should look like scrambled egg. Put it in the fridge for about 10 mins, so that it firms up a bit, that’ll make it easier to shape.

Now to form your quinels, this takes a little bit of practice. Get yourself two spoons, and load one spoon with about half a spoonful of mix. Transfer the spoon from one to the other and whilst doing so, compress the mix so that you form a three-sided neat ‘quinel’ shape. There’s a little demo by me, you’ll find here….

If you really struggle with the shaping, then form little balls or nests, just make sure that they will hold their shape, so less Michelangelo, more Anish Kapoor.

Put your coconut sculptures into an oven, about 180 for 10-15 mins, you want them to be slightly golden on the outside, and the kitchen should smell like l’eau de coco.

When your coconut beauties are out of the oven and cooled…

Melt some good quality dark chocolate over a ban marie (a pot of simmering water with a heatproof bowl over the top). Melt your chocolate.

Now the fun begins. Yeeeeahhhhh.

Dip half the coconut quinels in to that melted chocolate.

Set on greeseproof paper, and put into the fridge so the chocolate sets.

And that’s it. My beautiful, bountiful coconut chocolate quinels. Find yourself some appropriately sexy cup and saucer and…

Comments

cooking Almond and Pear Pudding with Ginger Cream

May 02, 2012

I think this pudding cannot be beaten, as it is always, always moist. You can mix it up in terms of what fruit you put in. Apple, pear, quinces and frozen berries work really well. Fresh cherries are amazing, but I wouldn’t use fresh strawberries or raspberries as they have a too higher water content. It’s good with custard in the winter and creme freche or cream in the summer.

The thing is, this is a base (a frangipan base), that you can play around with. It also goes really well in tart cases with fruit and crumble on top.

For the base you will need:

  • 250g ground almonds
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 150g eggs
  • 100g egg yolks
  • 25g plain flour
  • Cream your butter and sugar. Add the flour, then the almonds, and then the eggs one by one until a smooth paste is formed. Refrigerate.

For the pears, take:

  • 5 pears (not too ripe), peeled and cut in half, length-ways.
  • 100g honey
  • 1 Lemon
  • A vanilla pod or good quality extract
  • In a large pan, put your pears, honey, vanilla and about 200ml of water. Add the zest and juice of half the lemon, and add the other half whole. Then put the and cover until the pears are soft.

Flour and butter your cake tins and fill 3/4 with the almond cake mixture. Cut up your cooled stewed pears and push them into your cake batter.

Bake at 180 for about 10-15 mins. Cool and turn out.

I serve this with a stem ginger cream, which you can find in jars. Mix a little of the syrup with double cream and it should thicken nicely.

Scatter with toasted almonds.

If you don’t have individual pudding tins, you could bake the puddings in ceramic, like I did here, they look equally good, I think.

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cooking Lemon Posset with All-Butter Shortbread

April 30, 2012

THIS. IS. EASY.

So easy, there is really not much to say, other than, well that. Lemon posset is a classic. Lemon is good for puddings; citrus but sweet.

It’s hard to go wrong with this recipe.

Also you can make it look swanky by serving in cute mismatching teacups, or black coffee cups.

It’s good with those thin almond wafer biscuits you can get in the posh ailsles of supermarkets, or if you want, you can make shortbread to go with, like I have…

You’ll need: Just 3 ingredients…wooohoooooo!

  • 600ml double cream
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 large lemons (zest and juice only)

Put the cream and sugar in a pan and slowly bring to the boil.

Boil for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the lemon juice and zest and whisk well. Pour in to your pots and chill in the fridge for few hours or overnight. Sprinkle with lemon zest.

For the shortbread;

  • 300g plain flour
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 150g cornflour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 150g caster sugar or icing sugar (or a mix of both!)

Mix the butter and sugar together. Add the flour and almonds. It should form a dough, which you can bring together with your hands. Wrap on clingfilm and leave in the fridge for a few hours, about the same amount of time as it’ll take your posset’s to set.

When the pastry is chilled, roll out on a floured surface and cut in to rounds. Put on a baking sheet and leave in the fridge for another 20mins or so, this’ll help the shortbread cook evenly.

A no fuss end result…

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cooking Almond and Rhubarb Cake

March 31, 2012

Now then, this little almond cake is not only moist and perfectly formed, but nestled in amoungst it’s crumb lives a pink fleshy piece of gingered rhubarb. Cupcakes, please go away, please. And make room for more cakes like this, understated, slick, and chilled out.

For the cake batter, have a look at my blog post for almond and pear pudding…here. It’s the same base, only this one uses semolina flour instead of the plain flour.

This is what your batter should look like. I store mine in the fridge, and even freeze it sometimes. This is one I have in the fridge.

For the fruity innards you’ll need;

  • A few sticks of rhubarb
  • A small piece of fresh ginger
  • One vanilla pod
  • 100ml Grenadine
  • Light brown caster sugar
  • 2 lemon zest

To cook your rhubarb, cut the stems in to 2cm lengths.

Place on a sheet of greeseproof paper and throw generous handfuls of sugar over them. Grate ginger over, along with the scraped vanilla bean, a glug of grenadine for colour and grated lemon zest.

Cover with another sheet of greeseproof and cover with foil so that the rhubarb is snuggled up inside a baking parchment and tin foil bed. Cosy. This is actually so the rhubarb poaches in it’s own juice, and no water escapes. Pop in the oven on 160. It’s crucial to keep checking on it, like a worried mother. I’d say every 5-10mins, as all ovens differ. The rhubarb is quick to go soft, and you want to take it out when it’s just on that turning point between firm and soft.

Grease and flour your cake tins. Spoon the chilled mix in to them. Bake at 180 for 10 mins.

Remove and add 2 pieces of rhubarb per cake. There should be a wobble in the centre, that’s where you put your rhubarb.

Bake for another 5 mins. Leave to cool, turn out.

A little dusting of icing sugar…

Now, this bit, this is sexy…

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