Welcome to my 'foody' food bearing blog. Now that my blogging journey has begun, and the first shallot has been peeled, I hope to inspire kitchen creatives in a quest to find their 'foody grail'. All recipes are my own as are the images.
3 dessert spoons of sugar.
slice of lemon.
slice of orange.
50g of sultanas.
3 small ripe bananas.
15g of icing sugar and some for dusting.
Add flour and salt to a bowl and rub in the cold butter to a fine crumb.
Lightly hand whisk the egg and sugar together.
Add the egg and sugar mixture to the flour mix to form a dough.
If needed, add cold water, a tablespoon at a time, if the dough is a little dry.
Once the dough is made place in the refrigerator to chill – 1 hour.
Divide pastry into 6 equal portions.
Roll out each portion of pastry and line six round 9cm/3.5″ baking rings. I use non-stick egg rings with a depth of 4cm/1.5″
After lining rings with pastry ‘bake blind’ (see note) for 10 minutes at gas 6 or 400°F / 204°C. After 10 minutes remove parchment paper and baking beans and bake for a further 5 minutes.
Once tart cases are baked remove from the oven and leave to cool – do not remove the rings at this point. Note: Baking blind. Line your uncooked pastry cases with parchment paper, bottom and sides, fill each ring with baking beans or dried peas. This stops the pastry from rising at the base and falling in at the sides.
Lightly hand whisk the eggs and the sugar together in a bowl.
Heat the milk and vanilla in a pan until just warm.
Pour the warm milk onto your egg and sugar mixture and hand whisk together.
Transfer the mixture to a pouring jug and pour into your cooled pastry tart cases.
Once you have filled your pastry cases with custard, grate the top of each tart with fresh nutmeg.
Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until custard has set. Gas 6 or 400°F / 204°C.
When cooked, remove from the oven and set aside.
Place sugar in a thick bottomed pan over a low heat – do not stir as sugar will crystallize before turning to a caramel.
When the sugar melts and starts to turn a golden brown remove from the heat.
Add the cream and butter – be careful at this point as the caramel is extremely hot and will bubble up as you add the cream.
On a low heat continue to stir until all the ingredients have formed a smooth sauce. Note: On adding the cream, some of the the caramel will go hard and sticky. This caramel will melt as you stir cook the sauce out.
Once ready set aside.
Place all the ingredients except the sultanas in a pan.
Bring to a simmer and simmer for a further ten minutes.
Add the sultans and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Leave to cool.
Slice bananas into 5mm / 1/4″ slices and place on a non-stick baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Dust each slice with icing sugar and place under a medium grill until each slice turns a light golden brown. Or us a blowtorch if you have one.
Top your cooked tarts with a little of the toffee sauce and serve with the glazed bananas and sultana syrup. Dust with icing sugar.
Hazelnuts can be used to garnish for a little extra texture. Note: The toffee sauce and syrup can be served warm as can the tart – enjoy.
A sweet treat for Easter – or any occasion really.
This recipe is my own and, with a method similar to baking a Stollen, is very easy to make. It uses a simple fortified dough (containing eggs and butter) and takes little kneading. Give it a go.
For the dough:
10″ or 25.5cm non-stick baking tin – greased and lined with parchment paper.
600g Strong Flour – plus some for kneading.
150ml warm milk – blood temperature.
200g unsalted butter – must be unsalted.
1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk.
2 tsps salt.
2 tabls caster sugar.
25g dried active yeast or 50g fresh yeast.
1 tsp vanilla extract.
Butter for greasing.
180g Chocolate spread.
55g crushed Pistachio nuts.
Zest from 3 large oranges.
1/4 jar of Apricot jam.
1 packet of mini eggs.
In a large bowl stir 50g of butter into the warm milk.
When the butter has melted into the milk add the yeast, sugar and 2 heaped tablespoons of flour – taken from the 600g of flour that you have already weighed. Tip: To remove any lumps of flour from the ferment – lightly whisk with a hand whisk.
Leave the milk and yeast mixture to ferment for 30-40 minutes. The mixture will bubble and quadruple in size.
In a second large bowl combine the flour, sugar and salt and rub in the remaining 150g of butter, until all the butter has dispersed into the flour. Make a well in the centre.
In a separate bowl lightly whisk, with a fork, the egg, egg yolk and vanilla.
When the ferment is ready add, with the eggs and vanilla, to the flour and butter mix.
Combine all the ingredients into a dough. Knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes.
Once kneaded, put the dough into a floured bowl, cover with cling film and leave to prove in a warm place until doubled in size. Note: The first prove can take 2 hours. Note: Unsalted butter is essential for the ferment, as salt will prevent yeast from activating. Note: If you think that the dough is a little dry, add a touch more warm milk. If it’s to wet/sticky add a touch more flour.
Rolling the dough:
Once the dough has proved, roll out, on a lightly floured surface, into an oblong shape, approx’ 18″ x 13″ or 46cm x 33cm (see image 1 – below) and 1/4″ or 6mm in thickness.
Once rolled out to the required size, cover with chocolate spread and sprinkle with crushed pistachio nuts and the zest of the oranges. (see image 2 – below)
Roll up the dough into a sausage shape. Once rolled continue to roll the dough back and forth lightly stretching the length to approx’ 21″ or 53cm. (See image 3 below.)
Once rolled to the desired length, trim 1/2″ or 1cm off each end.
Now, with a sharp knife, cut the dough into even pieces – approx’ 1 and a 1/4″ or 3.5cm in length.
Arrange the cut pieces of dough in a greased and lined baking tin. (see image 4 – below)
Cover with cling film and leave to prove in a warm place for 2 hours.
Once proved bake in a preheated oven on Gas 6 or 190°C / 375°F for 30-35 minutes.
Note: Don’t cram the baking tin with cut dough pieces – leave room for the dough to expand while proving. Any pieces that won’t fit in the tin just bake as separate buns and have with a cuppa’.
When Easter Bread is baked, remove from the oven.
Gently heat 4 tablespoons of Apricot jam in a pan until melted and liquid.
Remove the, warm, baked Easter Bread from the baking tin place on a wire rack.
Spoon the melted apricot jam over the warm bread, and using a pastry brush, make sure that the top and sides are covered with the apricot glaze.
Leave to cool, then store in an airtight container.
Whatever the time of year, I do like a warm comforting soup. I got to share a bowl with my elderly neighbour today, while he put the world to rights.
Soup, bread and brexit. If only politicians could speak so lucidly with hot soup dribbling down their chins. Anyway, one free lunch later – politicians again – my neighbour thanked me then hobbled off for his afternoon nap.
I always get a warm feeling when I share home cooked food – even more so with a well seasoned soup. That warm feeling is always reciprocated and I can only put it down to the simple act of sharing or kindness. I know that acts of kindness can alter brain chemistry in a positive way with increased levels of dopamine and serotonin. But what I have found, when sharing food, is that it creates a bond between myself and the recipient. Oxytocin is a bonding hormone so my conclusion is that sharing soup is a great way to improve well being and personal mood, on every level.
‘Share a Soup Day’ sounds like a good idea.
Soup: (makes approx’ 2 litres.)
2 1/2 pints or 1.420 litres of chicken stock.
5 sticks of celery.
5g fresh parsley.
sprig of fresh thyme.
4 medium sized or 800g of potatoes. Peeled and cut into quarters.
Salt and white pepper for seasoning.
Small pot of Crème Friâche.
Fresh parsley for garnish.
Walnut Bread: (makes a 10″ x 5.5″ loaf)
300g strong flour.
1/2 tsp salt
150ml warm water.
2 tsps. dried active yeast or 5g of fresh yeast.
55g crushed walnuts.
1 egg for glazing.
3g grated parmesan (optional)
Veg’ Oil for greasing tray.
In a large pan melt the butter.
Sweat off the celery, leek and onion until soft.
Add the potatoes, parsley, thyme and chicken stock.
Bring the contents of the pan to a simmer.
Once simmering, place a lid on the pan, and cook for 20 minutes – or until the potatoes are cooked.
When the potatoes are cooked blend the contents of the pan with a hand blender until smooth.
Once blended, season with salt and pepper.
Serve with Crème Friâche and a sprig of parsley.
Set oven to gas 8 or 230°C /450°F
Mix active yeast with 150ml warm water – leave to ferment for 15 minutes.
Combine flour and walnuts into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.
Add salt to the edge of the flour – not in the centre.
Once active yeast has begun to froth add to the flour and mix to a dough.
On a lightly floured work surface, need the dough for 10 minutes or until you have a smooth dough.
Once needed, place dough into a floured bowl.
Cover with a damp cloth or cling film and leave to prove in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled in size.
Once dough has doubled in size – need again for a further 2 minutes.
Shape dough into a slipper/sausage shape approx’ 8″ long.
Place shaped dough onto a greased and floured baking tray.
Brush with beaten egg, cover with a damp cloth or cling film, and leave to prove again until doubled in size.
Once doubled in size bake in the middle of the oven for 20-30 minutes.
Tip:Before baking, grate parmesan cheese over the top of the risen dough.
Note: If using ‘easy cook yeast’ follow instructions on the packet.
Pork cheeks are tender and delicious.
These slow cooked meaty portions are one of my favourite things to eat and as the saying goes…good things come to those who wait. Along with another favourite, Madeira wine, the combination is simply gorgeous. Served with mashed potato, earthy beetroot and sweet parsnip the overall dish is comforting and hearty.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
For braising the cheeks:
8-12 pork cheeks.
1/2 red onion – chopped.
1/4 of a fresh leek – sliced.
1 stick of celery – chopped.
1 Bay leaf.
Sprig of thyme.
Sprig of parsley.
Knob of butter.
2 tbls olive oil.
900ml of beef stock.
2 cloves of garlic – no need to peel.
Madeira and apple sauce:
1/2 red onion – chopped.
4 chestnut or button mushrooms – sliced.
1 tbls red wine vinegar.
Knob of butter.
100ml Madeira wine.
100ml fresh apple juice.
salt and black pepper for seasoning.
pinch of sugar.
All the stock/liquor left over from cooking the cheeks. (strained)
5 medium potatoes for mash.
Pinch of nutmeg – optional.
3 fresh beetroot.
Salt and pepper for seasoning.
Heat your oven to gas 4 or 180°C / 350°F
Remove the silver sinewy membrane from the pork cheeks. A filleting knife is ideal as you can remove the membrane like removing skin from a fillet of fish. Place pork cheek sinew side down and slide the blade of the knife between sinew and the meat of the cheeks.
In a non-stick sauté pan seal and lightly brown the pork cheeks in the olive oil.
Once sealed, remove pork cheeks from the pan and set aside.
Pour any excess oil out of the sauté pan.
Now add the butter, onion, celery and leek to the sauté pan and lightly fry until just starting to brown.
When onion, celery and leek are starting to brown add the sealed pork cheeks, beef stock, thyme, bay leaf, parsley and garlic to the pan.
Bring contents of sauté pan to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
Once simmering, place a lid on your sauté pan and cook the cheeks for two hours in the oven.
When the pork cheeks are cooked, remove the cheeks from the cooking liquor/stock and set aside.
Strain the cooking liquor/stock. Skim off any grease with a small spoon and set the stock aside to make the sauce later.
Note: If you don’t have a sauté pan suitable for the oven – just use a casserole dish.
Note: If you have space in your oven, cook the beetroot and parsnips at the same time as your pork cheeks. If not, cook the pork cheeks first as they take 2 hours. You also need the cooking liquor/stock from the pork cheeks to complete the dish.
Set oven to gas 5 or 190°C / 375°F
Place whole, unskinned, beetroots in a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven.
Depending on the size, they will take 1 hour to 2 hours to cook. Once cooked, set aside.
Set oven to gas 5 or 190°C / 375°F
Half and quarter the parsnips.
Place on a baking tray – drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast in the oven for 35-45 minutes.
When the parsnips are cooked set aside for later. Tip: Before placing in the oven, Sprinkle parsnips with brown sugar for extra sweetness.
Peel and quarter potatoes.
Place in a pan and cover with cold water.
Bring pan of potatoes to a gentle rolling boil and cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
Drain potatoes, add a knob of butter, season with salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Mash with a potato masher or ricer.
Set mash aside for later.
Note: If you want gloopy ‘chefs mash’ add cream and more butter – I find with this dish the Madeira sauce is rich enough without the use of cream and excesses of butter..
Set oven to gas 5 or 190°C / 375°F
Note: You can prepare these the day before and store in an airtight container.
Have ready a bowl of cold water containing a squeeze of lemon.
Slice apples (3-4mm thick) and remove any pips. Place apple slices in the bowl of water and lemon – this stops the apples from going brown.
Dry apple slices and place on greaseproof paper on a baking tray.
Bake until crisp for 40-50 minutes.
Madeira and Apple sauce: (the stock/liquor from the cooked pork cheeks is used to complete the sauce)
Melt butter in a frying/sauté pan.
Fry onion and mushroom until soft and lightly brown.
Add red wine vinegar and reduce.
Add Madeira wine and flame to burn off the alcohol. (flame Madeira by turning up the heat and tilting edge of the pan toward the hob flame – or use a kitchen blow torch.)
Once the alcohol has burned off, add the apple juice, a pinch of sugar and all of the, strained, stock from the cooked pork cheeks. Reduce sauce by a quarter. Note: I like to leave the red onion and mushroom in the final sauce, but you can strain it if you prefer.
Heat the Madeira sauce and add the cooked pork cheeks – thoroughly heat until the cheeks are piping hot.
Warm your cooked beetroot, parsnips and mashed potatoes.
Serve with a side of apple crisps. Tip: Sprinkle tender shoots of fresh Thyme over each plate.
Tip: The pork cheeks can be cooked a day in advance – let them cool and store the cheeks and strained stock in a refrigerator.
Two cod fillets – skinned and boned.
Fresh Tomato Puree:
3 shallots – peeled and chopped.
5 ripe tomatoes chopped – vine tomatoes are best.
30g of butter.
1 dessert spoon of tomato puree.
Salt and ground black pepper to season.
1 tsp balsamic vinegar.
6 rashers of streaky bacon.
6 green beans – topped, tailed and blanched.
1/2 savoy cabbage – chopped and blanched.
1 cup of water.
2 wedges of lemon.
Fresh basil leaves.
Set oven to gas mark 7 – 425f/220c
Place your 6 rashers of streaky bacon on a non-stick tray and place a further non-stick tray on top of the bacon – place in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the bacon is cooked and crispy. Check after 20 mins’. Tip:Lay your bacon between two sheets of greasproof paper before placing between baking trays – this prevents bacon from sticking.
Once the bacon rashers are cooked remove from the tray and set aside.
In a pan sweat your chopped shallot or onion with the butter.
When the shallots/onion have softened, add the chopped tomato, tomato puree and sugar.
Place a lid on the pan and, over a low heat, cook for 30-40 minutes – stirring every 5 minutes to prevent the contents from sticking/burning.
Once the tomatoes have broken down to a soft puree blend with a hand blender and season with salt and pepper and balsamic vinegar. Set aside.
Turn on your grill to medium:
Grease a flat oven-tray with butter.
Place the fish on the tray and smear the fish with thin layer of butter.
Season with salt and black pepper.
Grill for 10 minutes or until fish is cooked – keep warm.
In a pan bring to a simmer a cup of water with the 35g of butter. Add your blanched beans and cabbage. Season with salt and white pepper. Pop a lid on the pan and heat your veg’ for 2 mins’.
Serve your grilled fish with hot tomato puree, warm crispy bacon rashers and your veg’.
Serve with a wedge of lemon and basil leaves.
Rich and sweet – as a dessert should be. A great looking pud’ that can be made several days in advance, saving you time and effort.
Enjoyed this today after dinner – just having a lie down.
Honeycomb / cinder toffee:
100g caster sugar.
2 full tbls golden syrup.
1 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda.
Oil for greasing
Recipe will make approx’ 2.4 liters of ice cream – when combined with honeycomb.
900ml of double cream.
3 tbls cold water.
5 large egg yolks.
1 tsp vanilla extract/flavouring.
Juice of half a lemon.
Raspberries and Lemon Icing:
Small punnet of Raspberries.
3 level tablespoons sugar.
Juice of half a lemon.
Plan ahead when making this dessert as the ice cream will need twelve hours in a freezer before it’s… well, ice cream. The great thing about this ice cream is that you don’t need an ice cream maker. Just follow the method and pop it in the freezer. In the words of Gordon Ramsey, “Ice cream, done.” Best not mention some of his other colloquialisms.
The chocolate sponge, brandy snaps and honeycomb can all be made several days in advance. Store in air tight containers, put your feet up and have a coffee.
The chocolate sauce can be made the day before and kept in a refrigerator. Go to the pub for an hour. Just heat up the sauce and serve when needed.
The Raspberries with lemon icing, just make on the day you plan to serve.
One – Honeycomb:
Grease and line a 25cm x 20cm non-stick baking tin with good quality grease-proof paper. Extend the greaseproof paper beyond the edges of the tin by 2.5cm or 1 inch.
Have ready a balloon whisk.
Have ready a heaped teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.
Put the sugar and syrup in to a thick bottomed pan. Place on a low heat and stir. Slowly melt the sugar and syrup until the grains of sugar have melted.
Turn up the heat slightly and cook the sugar mixture to a light caramel.
Remove from the heat and immediately add your bicarbonate of soda and quickly whisk.
Pour mixture into your greased and lined baking tin.
Leave to cool for 1 hour and 30 mins’.
When cold remove from tin, peel off greaseproof paper and store in an airtight container. Set aside to add to the ice cream later. Note: I usually double the ingredients and save half of the cooked honeycomb as a treat – when I have been good.
Two – Ice Cream: Note: Jam/sugar thermometer not essential for making the ice cream but handy if you happen to own one.
Whip the double cream until it turns thick and creamy – don’t over whip – set aside in refrigerator.
Put sugar and cold water into a thick bottomed pan. Place on hob on a low heat. Do not stir, let the sugar slowly melt to a syrup. While the sugar melts go to next step.
Add the five egg yolks, lemon juice and vanilla extract to a heat proof mixing bowl.
Place mixing bowl with egg yolks and lemon and vanilla over a pan of simmering hot water and whisk for 5 minutes with a electric whisk. Take care not to scramble the eggs. The mixture should turn a pale cream colour and thicken to ribbon stage. Remove from the heat and whisk for two more minutes – set aside.
Check your sugar. If you have a sugar/jam thermometer place in the pan with melted sugar and bring heat up to 230°f/110°c. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer turn up the heat to medium and cook the sugar syrup for 2 minutes – don’t let the sugar syrup colour. The syrup should be clear and starting to produce surface bubbles as it simmers.
When sugar syrup is ready let it cool for two minutes then whisk sugar syrup into your egg yolk mixture. Whisk for 5 minutes until the mixture thickens.
Add your whipped double cream to the egg yolk and syrup mixture, and using a balloon whisk, thoroughly fold the mixture together.
Take your previously made honeycomb and crush into small peices. Fold crushed honeycomb into the cream mixture.
Pop the mixture into an airtight container and freeze for 12 hours.
Pat yourself on the back and have a cup of tea.
Three – Chocolate Genoise Sponge:
Grease and line a 20cm x 25cm baking tin with greaseproof paper.
Set oven to gas mark 6 or 400°f/200°c
Sieve the flour and cocoa powder together into a bowl – set aside.
In a small dish mix together the melted butter and vanilla – set aside.
Crack the eggs into a heat proof bowl, add the sugar, and whisk over a pan of simmering hot water, with a electric whisk, for 5 minutes.
When the egg and sugar mixture has thickened and increased in volume, to ribbon stage, remove from the heat.
Using a balloon whisk, gently fold half of your sieved flour and cocoa powder, and half of your melted butter mix into the egg mixture.
Fold the remaining flour, cocoa and melted butter into the egg mixture.
Pour sponge mix into prepared cake tin.
Bake at gas mark 6 or 400°f/200°c for 20-30 minutes on middle shelf.
When the sponge has cooled wrap in cling film and store in the fridge.
To make the sponge squares:
Cut as many squares of sponge that you will need – approximately three to five 2cm squares per person will be enough. Freeze any sponge that you don’t use.
Place your sponge squares on greaseproof paper and pour a teaspoon of raspberry liqueur/brandy over each one. Set aside.
Gently heat your apricot jam/marmalade and water until jam is melted.
Brush your sponge squares, on all sides, with the melted jam.
Roll your sponge squares in grated chocolate. Set aside in refrigerator until ready to use.
Four – Brandy Snaps:
Preheat oven to gas mark 4 or 350°f/175°c
Lightly grease, with oil, two upturned ramekin dishes.
Add Butter, sugar and syrup to a pan. Place on a low heat and stir until sugar grains have melted. Remove from the heat.
Add the brandy and lemon juice to the sugar mixture and stir.
Add the sieved flour and ground ginger.
Heat your greased baking tray in the oven for 3 minutes.
Once tray is heated, remove from the oven, and place two, separate, heaped dessert spoons of the brandy snap mixture on the tray. The mixture spreads as it cooks so place each spoonful far enough apart so that they don’t run into each other.
Place tray in oven to cook the brandy snaps – approx 15 mins’.
When the mixture has spread and turned to a golden brown, remove from the oven.
Leave the brandy snaps to cool for 30 seconds before attempting to lift them from the tray.
Using a palette knife, or wide metal scraper, carefully slide under the brandy snap. Lift brandy snap off the tray and drape over an upturned ramekin dish – mold the brandy snap over the ramekin to create the basket shape.
Once cooled and set remove the brandy from ramekin and store in an airtight container.
Tip: Loosen around the edges of the brandy snap first before sliding palette knife all the way under. Tip: If the brandy snap becomes crisp before you have had the chance to mold it over the ramekin – place brandy snap back on the tray and put back in the oven for a minute to soften. Tip: Use two trays and cook four brandy snaps at a time.
Five – Chocolate Sauce:
Break the chocolate into small pieces and place all the ingredients into a small pan.
Heat over a gentle heat until all the chocolate has melted into the milk and cream.
Simmer and lightly hand whisk until smooth. ( Don’t boil.)
Serve hot or cold.
When left to cool the chocolate sauce can be stored in the refrigerator in a covered receptacle.
Six – Raspberries and Lemon Icing:
Place 3-5 raspberries per person on greaseproof paper.
Place sugar and lemon juice into a pan.
Heat on a low heat while stirring.
The sugar will go opaque and start to crystalise. Add a touch of water if sugar hardens.
Spoon a small blobs of the sugar mixture on each of the raspberries. The sugar icing should be thick enough not to run off the raspberry and will set to a hard crust on the outside.
With all your prep done it’s time to plate up, serve and enjoy.