Archives for posts with tag: recipes

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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Perfect little nibbles for a Christmas party, but be warned, these are very sweet and very more-ish! Easy enough for kids to make too. Quantities below make about 24 snowdrops, which means the chef can try a couple, for quality testing purposes of course….

Ingredients
200g white chocolate
4 tbsp condensed milk
25g butter
8 ready to eat dried apricots
4 good handfuls rice crispies
Hundreds and thousands to decorate

Method
Break the chocolate into squares in a large bowl over a pan of water. Be careful that the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Add the condensed milk and butter and stir occasionally until melted. Meanwhile, chop (or cut with a pair of scissors) the apricots into quarters. Beat the chocolate and milk mixture until smooth and take off the heat to stir in the apricots and crispies. If the mix is very stiff, pop it back on top of the pan for a minute, stirring well. When all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, use a teaspoon or your fingers to put small blobs of mix onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. Decorate with hundreds and thousands and leave in the fridge to set (about an hour).

Enjoy!

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These are really easy to make finger food, and add some nice festive colour too. Classic combination of mozzarella, tomato and basil in one easy mouthful. Choose the largest basil leaves you can find and use plum cherry tomatoes if possible. I’d normally drizzle this sort of food with olive oil and / or balsamic vinegar, but this would make them rather messy to eat, and I hate finger food that’s tricky or messy to eat in public. Make do with a liberal twist of sea salt and black pepper or leave plain.

Ingredients
1 ball of mozzarella
6 cherry tomatoes, halved lengthways
12 large basil leaves
12 small skewers

Method
Tear the mozzarella into 12 small chunks. Take a basil leaf, tuck a chunk of mozzarella at one end, tuck a piece of tomato (cut side against the cheese) at the other. Hold between your thumb and ring or middle finger (depending how big your hands are) and carefully push the skewer through, being careful to catch the basil at both ends but not to tear it).

Enjoy!

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I made this for the first time earlier this week for dinner with friends. Wow – it was good! Easy to do (well, lining the tin is a bit fiddly, but the actual cooking isn’t), though it has to be made well in advance – start it two days before needed. If we weren’t having pork for Christmas, this would definitely be on the menu, especially as it keeps well too. I found the recipe on the BBC Good Food website here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/4897/pork-apricot-and-pistachio-terrine.

Ingredients
400g pork fillet
2 cloves of garlic
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbsp whisky
12 good quality sausages
250g unsalted pistachios in shells / 100g unsalted pistachios
8 ready to eat dried apricots
1 1/2 packs smoked, rindless streaky bacon
Salt and pepper
Butter for greasing

Method
Dice the pork fillet, removing any fat or sinewy bits. Crush the garlic and put in a large bowl with the pork, thyme and whisky. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight to marinade. The next day, slit open the sausages (I use scissors to do this) and put the meat into the bowl with the other pork. Shell and add the pistachios, season well and mix thoroughly. Prepare a 1 lb loaf tin by lightly buttering it, placing the remaining sprigs of thyme along the bottom and lining it with streaky bacon. Take your time on this bit, ensuring that the rashers overlap and there are no gaps. The ends are tricky – use more rashers and press well to get it to stick. Spoon half of the meat into the tin and press down well. Arrange the apricots in a line down the middle, then add the rest of meat. Press down well then cover the top with more rashers of bacon lengthways and then tuck the ends of the rashers lining the tin over the top. Ensure that there are no gaps. Cover with a piece of buttered foil (butter side down!) and place the tin in a large roasting tin then half fill with boiling water. Cook in the middle of the oven for about an hour at 180 degrees.

Allow to cool then place in the fridge with a piece of cardboard and some tins on the top to press it down. Leave overnight. To remove from the tin, dip it briefly in boiling water (not too long as I did, or the butter and jelly all melts and seeps out!) then turn onto a serving board. Slice as required – these quantities make a terrine that will easily serve 12 or more. Serve with cornichons, chutney and crusty bread.

Enjoy!

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