Archives for category: Classics

This is one of my fail safe, go to recipes. A Nigel Slater classic, serve it warm with double cream or custard, or cooled with whipped cream. The pastry needs a bit of care – and time – to get right, but is worth it for the soft crumbly base to hold the soft and sweet pears.

Ingredients
75g butter
75g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
150g plain flour
Splash of milk
1kg ripe pears
15g butter
3 lightly heaped tbsp muscovado sugar

Method
Make the pastry by dicing the butter and beating (by hand or in a food processor) with the sugar until a smooth thick cream. Add the egg yolk then the flour, and bring to a soft ball with the milk. Turn the dough onto a floured board. Knead softly for a minute or two to make it easier to work. Roll into a disc to line the pie plate (use one about 18cm across the bottom, 24cm across the top). Carefully lift into place and press into shape. Trim the edges and patch up any holes. Refrigerate for 30mins.

Set the oven to 180 degrees and place a baking sheet in the oven to heat. Cut the pears into quarters, peeling and coring then slicing into 1cm wide chunks. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the pears then the sugar. Cook gently for about 10mins until the fruit is translucent and soft. Lift from the pan using a slotted spoon and arrange over the bottom of the chilled pastry case. Boil any remaining juices in the pan until only a few tbsp are left, then spoon over the pears. Bake for 40 mins until the crust is golden brown at the edges and the pears are beginning to colour.

Enjoy!

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This is one of my absolute favourite recipes. I love that it is different every time, depending on the proportions and variety of fish etc used, but every time it is so delicious. It is seriously good, although I should warn you that it creates a lot of washing up, and the kitchen will look like a bomb site. Bizarrely, the recipe was a promotional ad for Sensodyne toothpaste in the December 2008 edition of Observer Food Monthly – no, I don’t understand either.

Ingredients
900ml full fat milk
1 small onion, peeled and quartered but with the root intact
2 bay leaves
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1kg fresh fish and seafood – eg 250g salmon; 350g cod; 150g smoked haddock; 150g prawns; 100g scallops
50g plain flour
3 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp chopped parsley
3 tbsp double cream
4 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and quartered lengthways
1.5kg floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
50g butter
5 tbsp double cream
150g grated cheddar

Method
Pour the milk into a large pan and add the onion, bay leaves and thyme. Place the fish into the pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook over a low heat for 10 mins, the set aside for a further 10 mins. Drain the fish through a colander, discard the onion, thyme and reserve the infused milk.

Boil the potatoes for 15-18 mins until soft. Drain well then mash with the butter until smooth. Season to taste. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for about 30 seconds, the gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Cook for about five minutes until the sauce is thickened and smooth. Season well and stir in the parsley and cream.

Remove any skin from the fish and discard (NB put in the outside bin straight away to stop the house smelling of fish). Flake into large pieces. Add the fish, prawns and scallops to the sauce and fold in gently. Put the egg in then bottom of a two litre ovenproof dish then spoon over the fish mixture. Top with the mashed potato and use the back of a fork to ensure that it goes right to the edge and to make a ridged pattern. Sprinkle over the grated cheese. Place on a baking tray and bake for 30 mins until piping hot (add a further ten minutes if made in advance). Serve with peas.

Enjoy!

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This is based on my really easy fruit cake recipe (see 29th Sept 2011). Soak the fruit overnight in something festive (eg brandy) or fruit juice to make the cake really moist. Make sure you have a decent cake board to use – I improvised by covering the cardboard from a four bottle pack of beer with silver foil, but it wasn’t really strong enough (the finished cake is very heavy). Decorate however you wish – keep it simple with a ribbon around the edge, or go all out with sparkles or a snow scene.

Ingredients:
4oz / 100g margarine
6oz / 150g sugar (any sort)
4oz / 100g dried fruit
8 fl oz water
1 tssp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tssp mixed spice
Whole nutmeg (grate to taste)
2 beaten eggs
8oz / 200g self-raising flour
500g ready to roll marzipan
Vodka
500g ready to roll icing
Decorations

Method:
Boil the margarine, sugar, fruit, water, bicarb and spices for about 10 minutes (until the marg is melted, the bicarb has stopped bubbling and the mix dark and glistening). Allow to cool for about an hour. Stir in the eggs and flour and mix well. The mix will be quite runny and lumpy – don’t worry! Pour into a prepared / silicone tin (I prefer a loaf tin for this recipe). Bake in the oven at 160 degrees for about 90 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean (after about 30 minutes place some greaseproof or brown paper over the top of the cake to prevent burning before it is cooked). Turn onto a wire cooling rack until cold.

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Transfer to a cake board. Dust a flat, clean surface and rolling pin with plenty of icing sugar and knead the marzipan (still in its packet) a little to make it pliable. Roll out the marzipan until it is the right size and shape to cover the cake (remember to cover the sides as well!). Carefully lift it onto the cake and smooth down. Trim the edges to neaten. If any holes appear, patch up (see bottom right of picture below).

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If using royal icing, leave the marzipan to dry overnight. If using ready to roll, there’s no need to wait. As with the marzipan, knead the icing in its packet, then roll out using lots of icing sugar to stop it sticking. Tip a little vodka into your hands and use to wet the cake all over (this helps the icing to stick). Carefully lift the icing and cover the cake. Trim the edges. To make a smooth shiny surface, wash and dry your hands well and rub the icing with your palms (honestly!).

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Decorate however you like. To make a pattern with silver balls, draw a template on a piece of paper; hold in place on the cake and use a cocktail stick to make holes where the balls will go;use the holes to push the balls into place.

Serve in thick slices. Enjoy!

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Super easy, super rich dessert that is made in advance. What’s not to like? Just remember to take out if the freezer about ten minutes before serving. This time I served them in little espresso cups, but for an even richer pudding, try those chocolate cups in the ice cream aisle. Some sharp fruit eg raspberry or blackcurrant would be good on the side. This is probably the only pudding I’ve tried that isn’t improved with cream, unlikely as that sounds. The quantities below make four medium servings or eight small ones (eg in chocolate cups).

Ingredients
100g really good quality dark chocolate
5 tbsp condensed milk
4 tbsp double cream

Method
Melt the chocolate and condensed milk in a bowl set over a pan of boiling water. Take off the heat and stir in – using a whisk – the cream. When completely smooth and mixed pour into serving cups / pots / dishes, cover and freeze for at least four hours. Remove shortly before serving and add any garnish.

Enjoy!

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For the first time I can remember we had birthday cake left over and going stale this year. So I used it up in the bottom of a trifle. I would normally make trifle with a splash of sherry and a tin of fruit cocktail in the bottom, but my son declared he didn’t want either. To make up for this, I used orange juice to soak the sponge and in the jelly, which made it taste lighter and fruitier than usual. The cream refused to stiffen, so we had it poured over instead – but still with hundreds and thousands, of course. Delicious. This is a really easy dessert to make, it just takes time to set. Make it the day before needed, but add the decorations at the very last minute before serving.

Ingredients

Enough sponge (Victoria, Madeira, or trifle sponge fingers) to cover the bottom of the serving bowl, cut up into slices and with any jam or icing scraped off
Juice of two oranges
1 packet jelly (preferably strawberry)
1 pint custard (made from scratch or instant; not tinned, it’s too thin)
500ml double cream
Hundreds and thousands

Method

Cover the bottom of the serving bowl with the sponge and pour over half the orange juice so that it is soaked up by the sponge. Make up the jelly, using the rest of the juice in place of the cold water. Carefully pour over the sponge – you might need to hold the sponge down with the back of a fork to stop it floating around. Allow to cool then pop in the fridge to set. Make the custard and allow to cool until lukewarm – stir from time to time to stop it setting. Pour over the jelly and pop back in the fridge. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and spoon over the top of the custard. Serve decorated with hundreds and thousands.

Enjoy!

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The classic no cook cake – rich, chocolatey and really easy to make. I like to use a mixture of milk and dark chocolate for the top to give it a hit of cocoa but without being too bitter. This recipe is definitely only for those with a sweet tooth. The photo below doesn’t do it justice. Yum!

Ingredients
125g butter
4 tbsp golden syrup
200g digestives, broken into chunks (not crumbs)
100g raisins
3 tbsp cocoa powder
200g milk chocolate
50g dark chocolate

Method
Melt the butter and syrup in a heavy bottomed pan on a low heat. Take off the heat and stir in the cocoa, the raisins, then the biscuits. Press into a square tin. Melt the chocolate and spread over the top. Put in the fridge until just set, then cut into 16 squares and return to the fridge to chill completely.

Enjoy!

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A bit late – this is really a bonfire night cake. But better late than never… Gooey, chewy and very nice. It is quick to prepare though takes a while to cook, but makes the kitchen smell gorgeous in the process. The only downside is having to leave it for a couple of days to develop flavour and stickiness – but it’s worth the wait.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp golden syrup
4 tbsp black treacle
100g muscovado sugar
200g flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g butter
6 tbsp oats
100g raisins
1 medium egg
75ml milk

Method:
Melt the golden syrup, treacle and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan then leave to cool. Sift the flour and bicarb into a large mixing bowl then rub in the butter to make rough breadcrumbs. Stir in the oats and raisins. Beat the egg and milk together then beat into the mix along with the melted ingredients. Stir until smooth and a consistent light brown colour. Pour into a prepared 25 cm square tin and bake for about an hour at 170 degrees. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 mins then move to a wire rack to cool further. Wrap in greaseproof paper to develop further for a day or two.

Enjoy!

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