bread, food blogging, food photography, recipes, soup, thefoodygrail.com

Roasted Vegetable Soup with Savoury Croissants.

Vegetable soup.
Squash, sweet potato and roasted pepper soup served with savoury croissants. Finished with a warming chilli and garlic oil.

As the rustic shades of Autumn invade the last green remnants of summer, it’s time for a hearty and warming soup. Butternut squash, sweet potato and roasted red pepper make for a wonderful creamy soup. Served with a chilli- garlic oil and accompanied with  savoury croissants flavoured with anchovies and sun dried tomato.

Ingredients:

Soup:
1 butternut squash – peeled, halved, seeds removed and chopped into large chunks.
Note: Use other varieties of squash if you so wish – equivalent to one butternut variety.
1 sweet potato – peeled and cut into wedges.
1 large red onion – peeled, halved and cut into wedges.
2 roasted red peppers – skins removed.
2 sticks of celery.
1 dessert spoon of dried marjoram.
3 cloves of garlic
1 tabls red wine vinegar.
40g butter.
1.2 litres chicken stock or veg stock if you prefer.
10 sprigs or 3g of fresh parsley.
Drizzle of olive oil.
Seasoning – salt and pepper.

Garnish:
100ml chilli oil infused with 1 crushed clove of garlic.
5g chopped fresh basil.
Optional: 50g of grated Parmesan cheese.

Savoury Croissants:
227g strong bread flour.
23g unsalted butter.
1/4 tsp of salt.
10g or 3 tsps of easy bake yeast.
125ml warm milk.
1/2 a beaten egg – approx’ 27g
20g chopped anchovies.
30g sun dried tomatoes – chopped.
90g chilled butter – cut into small dice.

Method/cook:

Soup:
Set oven to gas 6 or 200°C / 400°F
Place your chopped squash in a roasting tray – drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and marjoram. (see image)
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Now place your sweet potato wedges and onion wedges into a roasting tray – drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and marjoram.
Roast your squash, sweet potato and onion for 45 mins’ until lightly charred and soft.
In a large pan melt the butter. Add the chopped celery, roasted pepper and garlic – sweat until celery is softened. (see image)
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When celery is soft add the vinegar and reduce. Set aside.
Once the roasted veg’ are cooked add them to the softened celery and pepper. With the pan on a medium heat, further brown the veg’ by cooking for 10 mins’. (see image)
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Add the stock and parsley to the veg’ and simmer for 20 mins.
Once simmered, blend all the veg’ to a creamy soup. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Savoury Croissants:
Rub the 23g of butter into the flour. Mix in the easy bake yeast and salt.
Add the warm milk and form into a dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for ten minutes.
Once kneaded, place in a floured bowl and cover with cling film or a damp cloth. Leave to proof until doubled in size.
Note: The dough can be chilled in the refrigerator after first proof then rolled and formed the next day.
Once proofed, knock back the dough and knead for 10 mins’.
Combine the chopped anchovies with the chopped sun dried tomato – set aside.
Now for the rolling and layering of the dough.
Roll the dough into a 36cm x 21cm oblong. (see image)
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Place half the 90g of butter and half of the anchovy and tomato onto the middle third of the pastry. (see image)
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Fold the top third of pastry over the butter. (see image)
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Place rest of butter and the rest of the anchovy and tomato mix onto the top third of the pastry. (see image)
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Fold up the bottom third of the pastry. (see image)
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Turn the pastry clockwise one turn. (see image)
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Roll out the pastry to a 46cm x 14cm oblong. (see image)
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Fold the top third of pastry over the middle third. (see image)
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Fold the bottom third up over the top third. (see image)
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Chill the pastry for 30 mins’ to firm up the butter.
Once chilled, turn the pastry clockwise one turn. (see image)
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Roll out the pastry again to a 46cm x 14cm oblong. (see image)
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Fold as previously explained and chill again for 30 mins’
For the final roll, turn the pastry one turn clockwise.
Roll out to a 56cm x 17cm oblong. (see image)
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Once rolled, cut 8 – 10 triangles with a sharp knife. (see image)
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Roll each triangle up from the widest end. (see image)
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Place the rolled dough triangles on baking trays lined with parchment paper. Egg wash and leave to proof until doubled in size. (see image)
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Note: Make sure the points of the dough triangles are tucked underneath so that the croissants don’t unravel.
Set oven to gas 5 or 190°C / 375°F
Once proofed bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.
Cool on baking racks once baked.

Serving:
Serve your hot soup topped with chopped basil and a drizzle of chilli and garlic oil.
Optional: Grate over the soup with Parmesan cheese.
Accompany the soup with warm savoury croissants.
Enjoy!

baking, celebration, christmas, desserts, food blogging, food photography, pastry

Christmas Tart

Christmas Tart
A moist tart full of festive fruit and topped with a light sponge. Encased in a crisp buttery pastry.

A moist tart that is an ideal Christmas treat. With lashings of moist fruit, soft sponge and a crisp sweet pastry, it won’t last long. It makes a wonderful alternative to a rich Christmas pudding and will accompany a freshly brewed pot of tea…to a tee. Simply decorated, with a glazed top and glittery fondant stars it creates a stylish looking pastry.

Ingredients: (Makes 10″ tart)

Pastry:
250g plain flour. Extra for rolling dough.
156g chilled butter – cut into cubes.
62g caster sugar.
84g egg – approx’ 1 1/2 eggs.
1/2 tsp salt.

Fruit filling:
50g raisins.
100g sultanas.
50g veg’ suet.
25g mixed peel.
50g soft dark brown sugar.
50ml brandy.
1 tsp mixed spice.
Juice of 1/2 orange and all the zest
Juice of 1/2 lemon and all the zest.

Jam for tart base:
3 dessert spoons of ginger jam/preserve for base of the tart.

Sponge:
60g self raising flour – sieved.
50g ground almonds.
1 tsp mixed spice.
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon.
2 beaten eggs – at room temp.
1tsp vanilla extract.
100g caster sugar.
100g soft butter.

Apricot Glaze:
3 dessert spoons of apricot jam.
2 tabls of water.

Decoration:
50g of fondant easy roll icing. Rolled to 3mm thickness and cut into star
shapes with cutter.
Edible glitter spray – lightly spray each star.

Method/cook:

Fruit filling:
Mix all the ingredients together. Leave to macerate for 24 hours in a cool place.

Pastry:
Beat the egg and sugar together until well mixed – set aside.
Add the salt to the flour.
Rub the butter into the flour to create a crumb texture.
Once all the butter has been rubbed into the flour add the egg and sugar mix.
Combine all ingredients into a dough, wrap in cling film and chill for several hours.
Note: This dough is quite sticky, so use a little extra flour to bring it all together. Refrigerate for several hours before rolling.
Once chilled, roll out and line a 10″, loose bottomed, flan tin. Pop your lined flan tin in the refrigerator to chill. Set aside.

Sponge:
Combine the flour, ground almonds and spices. Set aside.
Cream the butter and the sugar.
Gradually mix the beaten egg into the creamed butter and sugar . (Note: Eggs at room temp’ will lessen the risk of splitting when mixed with the butter. If your mix starts to split before all the egg has been added – mix in a couple of tabls’ of the flour mix.)
Add all the flour mix to the butter mix. Combine, thoroughly, with a balloon whisk. Set aside.

Preparing the tart for baking:
Set oven to gas 5 or 190°C / 375°F
With your fruit macerated, flan tin lined with pastry and the sponge mix made, it’s time to prepare the tart for baking. Place your lined flan tin on a baking tray.
Firstly, spread a layer of ginger jam over the base of your flan. (see image)
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Next, drain any liquid from the macerated fruit mix. Put a layer of the drained fruit mix on top of the jam layer. (see image)
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Finally add the sponge layer over the fruit. (see image)
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Bake on the lower middle shelf for 35-45 mins’. The tart is cooked when the middle of the sponge is firm to touch. After 35 mins’, give the centre of the sponge a light press with your finger. If the sponge is firm and springs back up after lifting your finger – it’s baked. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Time to prepare the apricot glaze.

Apricot glaze:
In a pan, slowly heat up the apricot jam and water to a, simmering, runny consistency.
Sieve the glaze to remove any apricot bits.
Now spoon the hot apricot glaze over the top of your hot tart.
Leave the tart to cool in the flan tin.

Serving:
Turn out your cooled tart and decorate with glittery fondant stars.
Serve generous slices with whipped cream.
Enjoy.

celebration, christmas, desserts, food blogging, food photography, pudding

Flaming Fabulous Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding
A Luxurious Christmas pudding made in single succulent portions. With rich fruit, treacle and brandy… it’s flaming fabulous.

A rich, fruity pudding for the festive season. This ‘old flame’ pops up once a year and it’s well worth the wait. Don’t let the long list of ingredients put you off making your own luxury puddings. They’re very easy to make and can be steamed several days in advance and re-heated just before serving on Christmas day. These puddings actually taste better if cooked several days before serving and one less thing to think about on Christmas day.

Ingredients: Makes 8 individual 150ml puddings. Tip: Heatproof plastic pudding moulds are great to use, as the cooked puddings can be chilled and re-heated in the microwave. For the purpose of this recipe I have used both plastic and stainless steel moulds.

50g strong flour.
100g veg’ suet.
100g raisins.
100g sultanas.
50g mixed chopped peel. (See recipe below)
50g chopped dried apricots.
65g glacé cherries – halved. (Extra for garnish)
1/2 nutmeg – grated.
1 heaped tsp mixed spice.
100g soft dark brown sugar.
100g bread crumbs.
25g flaked almonds.
50ml milk.
2 eggs lightly whisked.
100ml brandy.
Juice of 1 orange. (save the peel)
Juice of 1 lemon. (save the peel)
2 dessert spoons of treacle.

Butter for greasing your dariole/pudding molds.
8 good teaspoons of treacle for the bottom of each mould.

Mixed Peel:
Peel from 1 orange
Peel from 1 lemon.
600ml water
2 dessert spoons of sugar.
1 bay leaf.
4 cardamon pods.

Garnish:
200g glacé cherries.
Strips/julienne of orange and lemon peel – use mixed peel recipe.
Brandy for flaming – 2 tabls for each pudding.
50g Fondant/easy roll icing. Roll out to 3mm thickness and cut out star shapes with a small star cutter.

Method/cook:

Pudding:
Combine all the dry ingredients – set aside.
Add the milk and eggs to the dry ingredients – mix.
Now add the brandy, lemon juice and orange juice – mix.
Finally, add the 2 dessert spoons of treacle and thoroughly combine.
Cover the pudding mix with cling film and store in the refrigerator for 48 hours.
Once the pudding mix has had the time to macerate it’s ready to cook.
Grease your 8 pudding moulds with butter.
Drizzle 1 good teaspoon of treacle into the bottom each mould, then drop in 3 glacé cherries. (see image)
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Divide your pudding mix between the 8 moulds – approx 140g for each pudding. Note: Don’t overfill or pack the moulds – leave a centimeter from the top. (see image)
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When all your moulds have been filled, top with a circle of parchment paper and fix in place with string or an elastic band. (see image)
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Wrap each pudding in tin foil. (see image)
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To steam the puddings: Pop your puddings into a large pan. Top up the pan with boiling water until it reaches half way up the sides of the moulds. Bring the water to a boil and immediately turn down to a simmer – pop on a lid.
Simmer the puddings for 50 mins’.

Mixed Peel: (I like to make my own as it uses up orange and lemon peel that would otherwise be discarded. Also, the strips of homemade peel look very attractive as a garnish and taste great with xmas’ puds’.)

Place all the ingredients into a pan.
Bring to a boil, pop on a lid and simmer for 40 mins’.
After 40 mins’ drain the peel and chill.
Chop 50g for your pudding mix. Save the rest for garnish.

Serving:
Note: If you have made your puddings several days in advance, re-heat in the microwave. Place your puddings, in their plastic moulds, upside down in a dish. Heat on full power for 2 mins’.
Serve your hot puddings topped with 3 glacé cherries and strips of your cooked orange and lemon peel.
Top with an optional spoon or two of brandy.
Serve with either brandy sauce, brandy butter or custard.

Enjoy.

chicken, cooking, food blogging, food photography, recipes, restaurant food

Griddled Chicken and Chicken Skin Bites. Served with Salted Peanut and Caraway Bread.

Griddled Chicken
Griddled Chicken with Crispy, Chicken Skin Bites. Served with a Honey and Paprika Yoghurt. Accompanied by a Salted Peanut and Caraway Bread.

This chicken dish is top of the pecking order when it comes to ease of cooking and combination of flavours. Yoghurt and honey sweetness are a perfect match for charred chicken, crisp chicken skin and crusty peanut bread. With roasted tomatoes, that burst to create a light sauce – ‘dip dip hooray’ – it’s a rustic family meal for sharing or to wow your friends during an informal dinner.

Griddled Chicken

Ingredients:

Chicken:  (Serves 4 and needs to marinate overnight)
8 boned chicken thighs – with skin.
200ml Greek yoghurt.
1 clove of garlic – crushed.
1/2 tsp salt.
1/4 tsp black pepper.
1 heaped tsp paprika.
35g honey.
2 tsps of coarse sea salt.

Yoghurt Dressing:
120ml Greek yoghurt.
Pinch of salt.
Pinch of white pepper.
2 tsps of runny honey.
Paprika for sprinkling/dusting.

Garnish:
12 Vine tomatoes.
3 sticks of celery – cut into 6cm lengths.
2 tsps Paprika.
Salt and black pepper for seasoning.
Drizzle of olive oil.
1 tabls chopped parsely.
4-8 curls of butter.
4 cooked corn on the cob – cut in half.

Peanut Bread:
200g strong bread flour. Extra for kneading.
100g salted peanuts – ground.
5g easy bake yeast.
50g unsalted butter.
135ml warm water.
Olive oil.
Sea salt to sprinkle on top of loaf just before baking.
Caraway seeds to sprinkle on loaf just before baking.
Note: Don’t add salt to the dough mix as the salted peanuts contain salt.

Method/cook:

Peanut Bread:
Set oven to gas 8 or 230°C / 450°F
Rub the butter into the flour.
Add the yeast and ground salted peanuts.
Add the warm water and combine to a dough. Add a touch more flour if to wet.
Knead the dough for 5 mins’.
Place dough in a floured bowl, cover with a damp cloth or clingfilm. Rest the dough in a warm place to proof until doubled in size.
Once the dough has double in size, knead again for 3 mins’. You shouldn’t need to flour the surface for the second knead – due to the butter in the dough. But if it does stick, add a little flour as possible to stop it sticking.
Place the kneaded dough in a greased and floured baking tin.
Sprinkle with caraway seeds, sea salt and olive oil. Press into the top of the dough with your finger tips – six or seven good, heavy handed, prods – to incorporate the oil. (see image)
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Cover with cling film or a damp cloth and proof again until doubled in size. Bake for 25-30 mins’ until golden brown. Once baked, turn out onto a baking rack. Set aside.
Tip: If the loaf isn’t crisp on the bottom after baking. Remove from the baking tin and pop back in the oven for 5 mins’

Chicken:
Mix the yoghurt, seasoning, spices, garlic and honey set aside.
Remove skin from the chicken thighs and trim the skin into oblong pieces. (see image)
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Set the skin aside and store in a refrigerator until ready to cook.
In a bowl coat your chicken thighs with the yoghurt mix. Chill overnight.
Once your chicken thighs have marinated you are ready to proceed.
Set oven to gas 6 or 200°C / 400°F.
Place your trimmed chicken skin pieces on a deep baking tray, lined with silicon paper. (see previous image) Season the chicken skins with sea salt and roast until crisp – about 30 mins’.
Note: The baking tray must have high enough sides to retain the oils/fat dripping from the chicken skins.
Once the skins are crisp (they will shrink to yummy bite size morsels) remove from the oven and set aside. Also, save the oils/fat produced from cooking the skins – it’s full of flavour and will be used when serving later.
Set oven to gas 7 or 220°C / 425°F. Ready for the chicken thighs.
For the thighs, heat a griddle pan to a medium heat. Seal and char the marinaded thighs on both sides. Note: Because of the honey, it is easy to over char the chicken so don’t have your griddle pan smoking hot.
Once you have sealed and charred your chicken, place in the oven for 20 mins’ to cook through.

Garnish:
Set oven to gas 6 or 200°C / 400°F.
Place your celery and vine tomatoes on a roasting tray.
Drizzle with olive oil, season and sprinkle generously with paprika.
Place your cooked sweet corn on the tray with your tomatoes and celery to re-heat.
Roast for 30-40 mins’ or until tomatoes are soft and the skins begin to split. The celery will retain a crunch and the sweet corn will be hot. Set aside your garnish and keep warm.
Tip: Cook the garnish at the same time as the chicken skin – save time and energy.

Yoghurt:
Mix the yoghurt, seasoning and honey. Set aside.

Serving:  (Can be served as a sharing dish or plated for each diner.)
To serve plated: Dress each plate with several good teaspoons of the yoghurt dressing – random blobs, splodges or cheffy smears. (Drizzle extra honey, over the yoghurt, if you like the sweetness) Sprinkle over the yoghurt with paprika – be generous.
Next, add two pieces of cooked chicken thigh to the centre of each plate – brush with the fat/oil saved from cooking the skins. Top with several pieces of crispy chicken skin.
Add 3 roasted tomatoes and three pieces of roasted celery to each plate.
Finally, sprinkle each plate with chopped parsley.
Serve with hot corn on the cob and warm wedges of the crusty peanut and caraway bread. Don’t forget your butter curls.

Enjoy!

christmas, desserts, food blogging, food photography, ice cream, sweets

Poached Pears in Blackcurrant with Chocolate, Pistachio and Sultana Ice Cream. Served with Parisian Scrolls, Whipped Cream and Caramel Nibs.

Poached Pears.
Pears poached in blackcurrant served with a chocolate and pistachio ice cream. Accompanied with Parisian Scrolls and caramel nibs.

Christmas is here…according to the supermarkets. Don’t remember retail festivities starting quite this early.
So here is another early Christmas dessert – poached pears. I adore poached pears, but not in red wine, so these are poached in blackcurrant juice. With typical festive spices, such as cloves and cinnamon, these sweet pears are a real winner for the holiday season.
Accompanied by a lush ice cream, crunchy Parisian Scrolls and melt in the mouth Caramel Nibs – that kids and grannies’ will fight for – it’s a dessert to please most families.
Everything can be made in advance giving more time – for kitchen slaves like myself – to enjoy the company of friends and family.

Ingredients:

Ice Cream: Makes approx’ 900ml.
200ml water.
100g sugar.
100g dark chocolate.
300ml Milk – I used lactose free milk.
150ml coconut milk – full fat tinned.
1 dessert spoon of cocoa powder.
2 dessert spoon of skimmed milk powder.
1 tsp vanilla extract or seeds from 1 vanilla pod.
1 tsp of ice cream stabiliser. (optional)
70g sultanas.
70ml rum or brandy.
60g pistachio nuts – crushed.
Tip: Tinned coconut milk contains creamy coconut solids and liquid. Use the creamy solids and make up the 150ml with the coconut liquid.

Parisian Scrolls: (makes 18-20)
130g caster sugar.
2 egg whites – equal to 80g.
65g warm melted butter.
60g plain flour – sieved.
1 tsp vanilla extract.
Pinch of salt.
20g melted chocolate. For dipping ends of baked scrolls – optional

Caramel Nibs: (makes 260g)
120g honey.
120g double cream.
50g golden syrup.
60g white chocolate.

Poached Pears: (Serves 6)
6 firm fresh pears – peeled with stalks still attached.
200ml water.
500ml blackcurrant juice/cordial with 50% juice.
Juice and zest of 1 lemon.
6 cloves.
3 cardamon pods.
3 star anise.
2 bay leaf.
1/2 cinnamon stick.

Method/cook:

Ice Cream:
In a small dish, soak the sultanas in rum or brandy – for at least 5 hours.
Add the water and sugar to a pan. Slowly bring to a boil. Once boiling simmer for 5 minutes to create a light syrup. Set aside to cool.
In a thick bottomed pan add the milk, coconut milk, cocoa powder, milk powder, vanilla and stabiliser. Bring to a boil then simmer for 3 minutes. Sieve into a clean bowl and set aside to cool.
Once the the milk mixture is cool add the syrup and any excess liquid from the soaked sultanas – don’t add the sultanas.
Churn the ice cream mix in an ice cream maker.
When your ice cream has formed, remove from ice cream maker and mix in crushed pistachio nuts and soaked sultanas. Freeze for several hours in a suitable container.

Parisian Scrolls:
Set oven to gas 5 or 190°C / 375°F
Melt butter and add vanilla. Set aside.
With a hand mixer whip the egg whites and salt to stiff peaks.
With a balloon whisk, fold the sugar, flour, butter and vanilla into the whipped egg whites. Combine thoroughly.
On a baking tray, lined with silicon paper, place 2 teaspoons of the mixture three inches apart. With the back of the spoon spread each portion of mixture out, using a circular motion, to a 10cm-11cm circle. (see image)

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Bake on the middle shelf for 8-10 mins’. The outer edges will bake to a rusty brown while the centers will be lighter in colour.
Remove tray from the oven, leave for 10 seconds then quickly lift each wafer, flip over and roll. The wafers are hot so asbestos fingers are required – no pain no gain. Set aside to crisp up on cooling racks. (see image) When cool, dip ends of scrolls in melted chocolate – this is optional.

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Tip: Perform a test bake or two to get your technique correct.
Don’t be tempted to over bake the parisian scrolls, as over baking will cause them to brake in the rolling process.
I usually bake two to a tray until all the mixture has been used up.
Store your baked and cooled Parisian Scrolls in an airtight container.

Caramel Nibs: (Sugar thermometer needed)
Note: When making this caramel never leave the pan unattended. It will boil over and burn. Take your time, lightly stir regularly once boiling.
Place the honey, cream and syrup into a thick bottomed pan.
Slowly bring to a boil then turn down the heat slightly.
Using a sugar thermometer, bring caramel to softball temperature – 116°C / 240°F
Once reaching the required temperature, remove from the heat and mix in the white chocolate. Pour the caramel into a heat proof tin/dish lined with parchment paper. I use an oblong dish that is 21cm L x 7cm W x 3cm D. (see image)

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Leave the caramel to cool at room temp’. Once cool, wrap in cling film and refrigerate.
When you are ready for serving with the ice cream etc; cut off small chunks/nibs with a sharp knife.  Use as and when ice cream is on the menu or you just fancy a, melt in the mouth, caramel hit.

Poached Pears:
Add the liquids, spices and lemon to a large pan.
Trim the bottoms of your peeled pears so that they will stand upright.
Place your pears into the pan with the other ingredients.
Bring the blackcurrant liquid to a boil and pop on a lid. Simmer the pears for 35-40 mins’ or until soft. Once cooked remove from the heat.
Place the pears in a clean dish and pour over the blackcurrant liquid. (see image)

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Leave to cool, then chill in the refrigerator.

Serving:
Now that all your prep’ is done it’s just a matter of serving as you see fit. The dessert can be plated for each individual or the poached pears can be presented in a serving dish with the ice cream and Parisian Scrolls offered on the side. Don’t forget your caramel nibs.

biscuits, food blogging

Orange and Cardamon Cookie Dunkers with a Chocolate Cream.

Orange, Cardamon and Chocolate Dunkers
Orange, Cardamon and Chocolate Biscuits – Made to Dunk.

Made for the ‘dunker’ and I am not talking Norwegian Hounds here.  If, like me, you like to dip your biscuits without the frustration of ‘biscuit subsidence’, give these hardy dunkers a go. With a crisp biscuit and an indulgent chocolate cream they are a delight to eat.

Ingredients: Makes 11 x 6cm biscuits.

Biscuit:
110g softened butter.
170g icing sugar – sieved.
210g plain flour – sieved.
1 tsp cardamon seeds.
Zest of 2 oranges.
Caster sugar for sprinkling over biscuits – before cooking.
Extra flour for rolling out biscuits.
Tip: If cardamon isn’t your thing, then replace with a teaspoon of ground coffee – delicious.

Chocolate Cream Filling:
200g dark chocolate.
40g butter.
60g icing sugar.
55ml skimmed milk.
20g cocoa powder.

Method/cook:

Biscuit:
Set oven to gas 3 or 160°C / 325°F
Thoroughly mix the butter and icing sugar.
Add the orange zest and cardamon seeds – mix.
Add the flour and make into a dough.
Set aside to chill for several hours or overnight.
Once chilled. Roll out the dough to 4mm in thickness.
Cut out rounds – I used a 6cm cutter – and place on a baking tray lined with parchment. Sprinkle each biscuit round with caster sugar.
Bake the biscuits for 15-20 mins’ on the middle shelf.
Onced baked transfer to cooling racks – leave until cool and crisp.
Note: The biscuits will be soft on the bottom when hot – they will firm and crisp up once cool.

Chocolate Cream Filling:
Place all the ingredients into a heat proof bowl and sit over a pan of simmering water.
When the chocolate and butter has melted, combine all the ingredients with a hand whisk. Remove the bowl from the simmering water and set aside.

Making the Biscuits:
Pipe the warm chocolate cream onto one side of the biscuit. Top with a second biscuit to create a biscuit sandwich. (see image)
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Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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Serving:
Serve with a cup of coffee or tea and dunk to your hearts content.
Enjoy.

desserts, food blogging, food photography

Citrus and Coconut Ice Cream Dessert with Crunchy Chocolate Oat Cookies.

Citrus, coconut and pineapple dessert.
Citrus and coconut ice cream with a pineapple-lemoncello syrup. Served with toffee-pineapple and chocolate crunch cookies.

This is a great dessert to share – especially if you’re the one with the biggest spoon. 
With a, cream free, palette cleansing freshness it’s a wonderful way to end a spicy meal. For a little twist, scroll down to see the plated version served with a ‘Spiced Milk Curd’. The hint of chilli will surprise and delight your dinner party guests… a real winner.

Ingredients:

Citrus and Coconut Ice Cream: (makes approx’ 600ml)
150ml skimmed milk or lactose free.
150ml Greek yoghurt.
150ml coconut milk – tinned, not fresh.
1 tsp vanilla extract.
1 tsp cardamon powder.
Juice and zest of two limes.
200ml water.
100g sugar.
1 tabls honey.
3 tabls lemoncello.
1 tsp ice cream stabiliser (optional)
Tip: When opening the tin of coconut milk, the creamy solids will usually have settled. Spoon out all the solids and make up to 150ml with some of the coconut liquid.

Crunchy Chocolate Cookies: (makes approx’ 14 cookies)
100g butter.
60g soft brown sugar.
1 dessert spoon of honey. (Use golden syrup or maple syrup if you like)
90g self raising flour – sieved.
100g porridge oats.
10g cocoa powder – sieved.
pinch of salt.
50g white chocolate for decoration.

Pineapple Syrup: (makes 120ml syrup)
200ml pineapple juice.
50g sugar.
4 tabls Lemoncello.

Spiced Milk Curd: (Optional, but this hint of spice works great)
200ml milk.
4-6 slices of fresh chilli, plus the seeds.
5 cardamon pods crushed.
1 tsp sugar.
1 tsp agar agar.

Citrus and coconut ice cream with spiced curd and pineapple syrup.
Citrus and coconut ice cream with spiced curd and a pineapple-lemoncello syrup. Served with chocolate crunch cookies.

Toffee Pineapple:
100g sugar.
2 tabls water.
Fresh pineapple cut into chunks – 4 chunks per person.

Garnish:
Zest of 2 lemons.
Drizzle of Lemoncello.
2 limes sliced and crystalised. (See below for recipe)

Method/cook:

Citrus and Coconut Ice Cream:
Combine the skimmed milk, yoghurt, coconut milk, vanilla and cardamon. Set aside.
Add the lime juice, zest, water, sugar, honey and lemoncello to a pan. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and add ice cream stabiliser, simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid has reduced to 100ml.
Once reduced leave to cool and then combine with the milk mixture.
Churn in an ice cream maker until frozen.
Transfer to a plastic container and store in the freezer.

Crunchy Chocolate Cookies:
Set oven to gas 3 or 160°C / 325°F
In a pan, slowly heat to a simmer the butter, soft brown sugar and honey.
Once the sugar has melted remove from the heat.
Add the flour, oats, cocoa powder and salt.
Mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon.
Take heaped dessert spoons of the cookie mix and form each spoonful into balls.
On a baking tray, lined with parchment, press each ball into flat rounds with the palm of your hand. (see image)
Bake on the middle shelf for 15-20 mins’
Once baked transfer cookies to cooling rack with a wide spatula/slice.
Once cooled drizzle with melted white chocolate.
Store cookies in an airtight container.

Pineapple Syrup:
Place all the ingredients into a pan.
Bring to a boil, then simmer until for 5 mins’ until reduced to 120ml.
Set aside to cool then chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Spiced Milk Curd:
Place all the ingredients into a pan and bring to just boiling, then simmer for 5 mins’
Strain the mixture and pour into a shallow square container/dish lined with cling film. Leave to set.
Once set, turn out the curd and cut into cubes. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Toffee Pineapple:
Dry your fresh pineapple chunks on kitchen roll. Set aside.
Place the sugar and water into a pan and gently heat to make a caramel. Note: (do not stir the sugar as the sugar will crystalise)
Once the sugar has formed a golden caramel remove from the heat.
With a fork dip chunks of pineapple into the caramel, one chunk at a time.
Place your caramel coated pineapple onto parchment/silicon paper.
Note: The toffee pineapple chunks need to be prepared just before serving as the toffee will begin to melt due to the moisture in the pineapple.

Crystalised Limes:
2 limes sliced.
200ml water.
100g sugar.
Sugar for sprinkling on cooked limes.

In a pan, bring the sugar and water to a boil.
Add the lime slices. Pop on a lid.
Simmer the lime slice until rinds are soft – about 40-60 mins’
Once the limes are cooked, remove from the liquid and place on a tray with parchment/silicon paper.
Sprinkle both sides of the limes with a generous amount of granulated sugar.(see image)
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Cover with cling film and leave in a cool place for several days. Note: don’t place in refrigerator.
After several days they are ready to eat. They add a nice contrast to sweet desserts as the rinds retain a touch of sourness.

Serving:
Arrange your pineapple and curd on a serving plate. Serve a scoop or three of ice cream. Drizzle with the pineapple-lemoncello syrup and Lemoncello. Sprinkle with lemon zest and a slice of crystalised lime.
Place a cookie on the side.
Enjoy the tang.

food blogging

Three King Pastries – Tarts and Muffins.

Christmas pastries

Already thinking of Christmas?

Well, I am the first to sigh when festive paraphernalia starts to appear on supermarket shelves in mid September. However, for the purpose of my blog, a bit of forward planning is essential to satisfy those looking for tasty festive recipes.

‘Three King Pastries’ – my own creation – are a moreish and moist sensation. Both the tarts and the muffins are topped with three succulent dates – hence ‘Three Kings’ – and coated in an apricot glaze. With a soft light sponge laced with festive spice, they won’t last long.
These festive pastries are easy to make and offer a real alternative to mince pies or even Christmas Pudding. The following recipe will make 6 tarts and 6 muffins.

Ingredients: Makes six 10cm tarts and six 7cm x 3cm muffins.

Sweet Pastry:
200g plain flour.
125g unsalted butter – cold and cubed.
50g caster sugar.
1 egg.
1/4 tsp salt.
Extra flour for dusting and rolling.

Sponge for both tarts and muffins:
220g self raising flour.
200g softened unsalted butter.
4 large eggs – beaten and at room temperature.
200g caster sugar.
1 heaped tsp of mixed spice.
80g chopped prunes.
Zest of 1 large orange.
18 soft stoned prunes. Cut in half if large.

Apricot Glaze and Garnish:
18 dates – halved and stoned.
225g or 4 heaped dessert spoons of apricot jam.
3 dessert spoons of water.
15g fondant icing.
Icing sugar for dusting before serving.

Orange Butter Icing:
50g unsalted softened butter.
80g icing sugar – sieved.
Zest of 1 orange.

Method/cook:

Pastry:
Beat the egg and sugar together until well mixed – set aside.
Add the salt to the flour.
Rub the butter into the flour to create a crumb texture.
Once all the butter has been rubbed into the flour add the egg and sugar mix.
Combine all ingredients into a dough, wrap in cling film and chill for several hours.
Note: This dough is quite sticky, so use a little extra flour to bring it all together. Refrigerate for several hours before rolling.

Rolling Pastry and Lining Tart Tins:
Grease your tart and muffin tins with butter.
Roll out a portion of the pastry to 3mm in thickness.
Place tart tin on pastry (see image)
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Cut around tin leaving a 2cm overlap to account for the sides of the tin.

Line your tart tins with the pastry circles. (see image)
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Continue to roll out the remaining pastry, cutting out circles and lining each tin.
Once all the tart tins are lined with pastry – chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Sponge for Tarts and Muffins:
Cream the butter and the sugar.
Gradually mix in the beaten egg. Note: Eggs at room temp’ will lessen the risk of splitting when mixed with the butter. If your mix starts to split before all the egg has been added – mix in a couple of tabls’ of the flour.
Add flour and mixed spice into the butter mix. Combine with a balloon whisk.

Prepare Tarts for Baking:
Set oven to gas 7 or 220°C / 425°F
Pipe some of the sponge mixture into the lined tart tins and smooth with the back of a teaspoon.
Add three prunes to the top of each of the tarts. (see image)
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Bake for 15-20 mins’ until sponge has risen and golden brown.
The prunes will be enveloped beneath the sponge as the tarts bake.
Once your tarts have baked, remove from their tins and place on a cooling rack to cool.
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Prepare Muffins for Baking:
Mix your chopped prunes and orange zest into the remaining sponge mix.
Divide your sponge mix between your six greased muffin tins.
Bake for 20-25 mins’ or until sponge has risen and golden brown.
Once your muffins have baked, remove from their tins and place on a cooling rack to cool.
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Apricot Glaze and Garnishing the Pastries.:
In a pan, slowly heat up the apricot jam and water to a runny syrup/glaze.
Place three halves of your dates on top of your tarts and muffins.(see first image)
Spoon your hot apricot glaze over the top of each tart and muffin – including the dates. Set aside for the glaze to cool and set.
Roll out the fondant icing to 3mm thickness. Cut out star shapes with a star cutter.
I use a small star cutter for the muffins and a larger star for the tarts.

Orange Butter and Finishing off the Pastries:
With a balloon whisk thoroughly combine the butter, icing sugar and orange zest.
Pipe small swirls of orange butter on top of the muffins and tarts.
Pop a fondant star on top of the orange butter.
Note: I leave some of the pastries without the orange butter – they are just as nice and some people may prefer it without the added calories.

Dust with icing sugar and serve.

chicken, food blogging, food photography, recipes, salad, savoury, spices

Spicy Chicken Roulade with a Mango Salad and Dressing. Served on a bed of Quinoa.

Spicy Chicken Salad
Spicy chicken roulade with a mango salad and a mango and lemon dressing.

A quick and tasty chicken salad that’s perfect for an alfresco lunch or dinner.
The chicken can be served hot or cold and makes for a great picnic food also.
This is my first dish to incorporate Quinoa seeds. Quinoa is a wonderful, protein packed, alternative to rice and is gluten free. I will certainly be using it again as it went down well with my family of foodie guinea pigs – Quinoa originates from the Andes funny enough.

Ingredients: (Serves two)

Chicken Roulade:
1 large chicken breast or 2 small breasts.
30g unsalted butter.
Seasoning.
Juice of half a lemon.
For the filling:
2 cloves garlic sliced.
1 medium green chilli finely chopped.
15g fresh ginger chopped.
Juice of half a lime.
1 tsp ground coriander.
1 tsp ground cumin.
1 tsp ground turmeric.
1/2 tsp five spice.
1/4 teaspoon of coarse salt.
Pinch of black pepper.
2 tabls olive oil.
1 red onion finely chopped.

Mango Dressing:
140g of fresh mango.
Juice of half a lemon.
100ml warm chicken stock.
Seasoning.

Quinoa:
80g Quinoa seeds.
350ml chiken or veg’ stock.
Seasoning.

Garnish:
Fresh leaf salad.
10 Slices of red chilli.
4 wedges of lime.
Slices of fresh mango.
Sprigs of fresh coriander or parsley.
Drizzle of olive oil.

Method/cook:

Mango Dressing:
Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth.
Set aside in the refrigerator.

Quinoa: (I used tri-colour seeds)
Rinse the quinoa seeds in cold water.
Bring the seeds to a boil in the stock.
Once boiling simmer, with a lid, for 10 minutes.
Once cooked, drain, season and set aside.

The Roulade Filling:
In a pestle and mortar grind the garlic, chilli, ginger, salt and pepper.
Once ground, add the lime juice and the spices – combine and set aside.
In a frying pan, gently heat the olive and lightly fry the red onion until softened. Once the onions have softened, add your spice mix and lightly cook out the spices for 3 minutes. Set aside to chill in the refrigerator.
Note: A well chilled filling will be easier to roll later when forming the roulade.
Tip: Add a touch more oil if the pan becomes dry.

Prepare Chicken Breast:
Butterfly the chicken breast by slicing along its length. Only cutting halfway into the breast and opening out. (see images)
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Once you have butterflied the chicken breast, place it between two layers of cling film, or in a polythene bag. Flatten out the chicken breast using a rolling pin, meat mallet or tenderiser.  (see images)
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Don’t worry if the chicken breast has a tear or hole.
Once the chicken breast has been batted out, season with salt and black pepper. Now cover with a layer of your well chilled spicy filling. (see image)
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Roll up your breast meat and wrap tightly in a layer of cling film – twisting the ends. Wrap in a second layer of cling film and again twisting the ends. (see image)
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The roulade can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Cooking The Roulade:
Bring a pan of water to a simmer.
Place your roulade, in the cling film, in the simmering water and pop on a lid.
Simmer the roulade for 20 minutes.
I use a saute pan with a lid. (see image)
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The two ramekins stop the roulade from floating about in the simmering water – less risk of the cling film coming undone.
After twenty minutes remove the roulade, still in the cling film, and place in a cold frying pan. Leave the roulade to cool for 10 minutes then remove the cling film. Juices will run out when you cut the cling film.
Note: The roulade will contain juices that will run out when the cling film is removed. You want to retain them.
After removing the cling film, put the frying pan on a low heat and add the butter.
Lightly brown the roulade – being careful not to burn the butter.
Once the roulade has browned (see image) add the lemon juice and set aside to keep warm.
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Serving:
Serve slices of the chicken roulade on a bed of Quinoa.
Arrange fresh slices of mango with the salad leaves – spoon over some of the mango dressing.
Garnish with wedges of lime, coriander herb and slices of fresh chillis.
Drizzle with olive oil.

Enjoy!

baklava, desserts, food blogging, food photography, panna cotta, recipes, restaurant food, sweets, thefoodygrail.com

Wild Blackberry and Baklava Dessert.

Wild Blackberry Panna Cotta and Baklava Dessert.
Blackberry Panna Cotta with an Apricot and Nut Baklava.
Served with Whipped Cream, Sharon Fruit and a Blackberry Sauce.

British hedgerow meets Italian cream meets Ottoman delight.
Wild Blackberries are growing in abundance here in England at the moment. I don’t think I have ever seen so many fruits – it’s a bumper year – but a word of caution.
My first container was half full when an elderly lady appeared with three Great Danes…I will only pick fruits growing above chest height from now on.
After a few hours picking and culling the little black jewels, I put 500g of fruit to one side and froze the rest.
The recipe for today is a Wild Blackberry Panna Cotta with an apricot and nut Baklava. Served with whipped cream, Sharon fruit and a Blackberry sauce.
This dessert can be made in advance, chilled in the refrigerator and served when ready.

Ingredients:

Blackberry Panna Cotta: (makes 5 150ml desserts)
500ml double cream.
200ml skimmed milk.
1 tsp vanilla extract.
1/2 tsp agar agar or setting agent of your choice.
300g fresh blackberries.
70g sugar.
4 tabls water.

Blackberry Sauce:
200g fresh blackberries.
25g sugar.
Juice of 1/2 lemon.
2 tabls water.

Apricot and Nut Baklava: ( makes 20 x 25 tray bake)
15 20cm x 25cm sheets of filo pastry.
300g ground mixed nuts (100g each of walnuts, hazelnuts and almond)
180g melted butter.
150g dried apricots – pureed in a food processor.

for the Baklava syrup:
100g sugar.
210 ml water.
180g honey.

Garnish:
2 ripe Sharon fruits.
15 fresh blackberries.
125ml double or whipping cream.
10g ground and roasted mixed nuts. (optional)

Method/cook:

Blackberry Panna Cotta:
Add the blackberries, water and sugar to a pan and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, turn down the heat, add the agar agar, simmer for 4 minutes.
Next, blend the blackberry and agar agar mix then pass through a fine sieve. Set aside.
Bring the milk and double cream to just boiling. Thoroughly whisk in the blackberry and agar agar mix.
When combined, divide into five 150ml dariole moulds. Leave to set overnight.
When set, and ready to serve, loosen the at the edges then dip the moulds in hot water for 1 minute. Turn out your Panna cottas on to serving plates.

Blackberry Sauce:
Put all the ingredients into a pan.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 minutes.
Once simmered, pass through a sieve and set aside to cool.
Once cooled, chill in the refrigerator.

Apricot and Nut Baklava:
Set oven to gas 3 or 160°C/325°F
In your baking tray, place a single sheet of filo pastry and brush well with butter.
Do this with a further 4 sheets of filo – brushing each layer with plenty butter.
Now add a layer of ground nuts Approx’ 8 tabls’ and a layer of apricots. (see image)
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Add a layer of filo and press down. (see image)
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Now brush with butter and again add a further 4 layers of well buttered filo.
Add a further layer of nuts, followed by 5 more buttered layers of filo pastry.
Bake in the oven for 45 mins’ to 60 mins’ until golden brown.

Now make the Baklava syrup:
Place all ingredients into a pan, stir and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes.
Once boiled, turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.

Once the Baklava has baked, cut into squares. Leave to cool and then pour over the warm Baklava syrup.
Leave to soak for several hours – preferably overnight.
(see image – minus a few irresistible squares)
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Serving:
Turn out your Panna Cottas on to serving plates.
Add two squares of Baklava.
Spoon on ripe Sharon fruit.
Top your Panna Cotta with whipped cream and Blackberry sauce.
Garnish with fresh blackberries.
Optional: top cream with ground and roasted mixed nuts.

Enjoy.