Recipes for August 2022

Chicken With Curried Fennel Sauce

SERVES 4

15g. / 1oz. butter
4 chicken breasts
2 large fennel bulbs
3 cardamom pods
2 large garlic cloves
2.5cm. / 1 inch piece of root ginger
1 fresh red chilli
1 tsp. gd. coriander
½ tsp. gd. cinnamon
½ tsp. gd. cloves
1 tbsp. plain flour
150mls. / ¼ pt. natural yoghurt
8 tbsps. lemon juice
1 ½ tbsps. tomato puree mixed into 300mls.
 ½ pt. water

To serve:

Handful of fresh coriander leaves

  1. Set the oven to gas mark 4 / 180.  Heat the oil and half the butter and add the chicken pieces and brown them all over.  Put the chicken into a large casserole.
  2. Cut off the base and stalks of the fennel and remove any marked outer parts and cut the bulbs into 6 – 8 pieces each.  Blanch the pieces in boiling salted water for a few minutes to soften slightly.
  3. Put the fennel in the dish around the chicken.  Roughly crush the cardamom pods and scatter them in with the fennel.  Peel the garlic and ginger and chop finely.  Cut the chilli open lengthways and discard any seeds and slice very thinly.
  4. Put the frying pan back on the heat, adding the remaining butter.  Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and the ground spices and stir for 30 seconds.  Stir in the flour and continue to stir for 1 minute.  Stir in the yoghurt in one direction only, add the lemon juice to the tomato puree mixture and stir into the fried spices.
  5. Bring to the boil and stir until the sauce thickens, season to taste with a little salt.  Pour the sauce over the fennel in the casserole dish.  Cover and cook for one hour.  Serve with basmati rice and a green vegetable.

You will require an apron and tea towel, a large frying pan and a large casserole dish plus foil to cover and clingfilm.

TIP

The reason for telling you to stir the yogurt in one direction is that it can split.  Adding a teaspoon of cornflour to your yogurt prevents this.  You could, of course, use creme fraiche instead of yogurt if you are worried.  I have never known that to split ever.

Plum & Hazelnut Cake Or Pear & Walnut Cake

SERVES 6

8 – 10 large red plums, halved & stoned or 3 pears
125g. / 4 ½ ozs. soft butter, plus extra for greasing
100g. / 3 ½ ozs. caster sugar, plus 1 extra tbsp.
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
100g. / 3 ½ ozs. self-raising flour, sifted
100g. / 3 ½ ozs. toasted hazelnuts ground or walnuts
2 tbsps. whole milk

  1. Cut each plum half into 3 slices or the cored pears into about 1 cm. / ½ inch thick slices.  Butter a 20cm. 8 inch springform tin and line the base with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
  2.  Put the butter, sugar (minus the extra tablespoon), eggs, lemon zest, flour, nuts and milk into a food processor and whiz until smooth.  Spoon the batter into the tin and arrange the plum or pear slices, cut-side up, in circles on top.  Make sure you pack them well together.  Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. caster sugar (or more if the plums are very tart) and bake in an oven preheated to 180C / gas mark 4 for 40 minutes.  A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean.
  3. Let the cake cool in its tin for 15 minutes, then remove it, peeling off the greaseproof paper on the bottom, and put it on a wire rack to cool completely.

You will need a 20cm. / 8 inch springform tin, apron, teatowel and baking parchment or greaseproof paper.

TIP

Bentleys Fruit Farm near Newent have lovely plums which they say will be available until well into September.

Recipes for July 2022

TRIPLE TOMATO TART – Serves 6

250g. / 9ozs, ready made puff pastry (all butter is best)
3 tbsps. sun dried tomato puree, or ordinary tomato puree
250g. / 9 ozs. ripe vine tomatoes, sliced
150g. / 5 1/2 ozs. cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 egg yolk
125g. / 4 1/2 ozs. Italian sliced salami, chopped
salt and pepper
handful thyme sprigs

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F / Gas Mark 5.  Roll out the pastry to form a rectangle 36cm. / 14 inches long and 25cm. / 10 inches wide and lift on to a heavy duty baking tray.
  2. Spread the tomato puree over the pastry, leaving a 3cm. / 1 1/4 inch margin around the edge.  Arrange the vine tomato slices over the tomato puree, scatter over the cherry tomato halves, top with the rosemary and drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil and the balsamic vinegar.  Brush the edges of the pastry with egg yolk and bake for 10 minutes.  Scatter over the salami and bake for a further 10 – 15 minutes.   
  3. Remove the tart from the oven and season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with the remaining oil and scatter over the thyme.

TIPS

You could make this into a vegetarian version by leaving out the salami and instead using feta or goat’s cheese.  Another alternative is roasted peppers and pine kernels instead of the salami.

Some sun dried tomatoes, cut into strips,  could be added at the same time as the salami.

A LEMONY HAZELNUT AND BLUEBERRY CAKE – Serves 8 – 10

115g. hazelnuts
260g. unsalted butter, really soft
225g. white spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 large eggs
130g. honey (or golden caster sugar)
130g. maple syrup
finely grated zest of 1 large unwaxed lemon

For the filling:

350mls. double cream
2 – 3 tbsps. honey
2 – 3 tbsps. blueberry jam
200g. fresh blueberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.  Grease and line 2 x 20cm. loose-bottomed sandwich tins.
  2. Toast the hazelnuts in the oven for 5 – 7 minutes but check after 5.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool then whizz in a food processor into fine meal.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and beat in all the other ingredients using an electric handmixer.  Be careful not to overmix.  Scrape the mixture into the tins and level the tops with the back of a spoon.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until the cakes are risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tins and placing on a wire rack.
  4. When cool, lightly whip the cream until soft peaks form, drizzle in the honey and whisk again.  Take one spoonful of jam at a time and carefully marble it through the cream.  Carefully place one cake on a cake plate, spoon over two thirds of the marbled honey cream and place the second cake on top.  Spread the remaining third of the honey cream on top of the 2nd cake, then sprinkle the fresh blueberries over the cream.

TIPS

You could use ground almonds instead of toasting hazelnuts and whizzing them in your food processor.

If you want to cut down on the cream content, I would use half the amount and just put it in the centre.  I would then lightly poach the blueberries and put those on the top.  You could use 1 tbsp. of jam for the centre filling and spread 1 tbsp. of jam on top which would help to anchor the blueberries.

Recipes for June 2022

GREEN LENTILS, ASPARAGUS AND WATERCRESS

200g. green lentils
120g. watercress, thick stalks removed
40g. parsley
150mls. light olive oil
400g. asparagus spears
100g. pecorino cheese
4 lemon wedges,
salt and black pepper

Wash the lentils in cold water, then place in a saucepan with plenty of fresh water and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils are just cooked.

While the lentils are cooking, put half of the watercress, the parsley, olive oil, vinegar, garlic and some salt into a food processor.  Blitz until smooth and pour into a bowl.

As soon as the lentils are cooked drain them well and mix them while still hot with the watercress dressing.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Break off the end of the asparagus spears and discard.  Cook the asparagus in simmering salted water for 2 – 3 minutes, drain and cut the spears into roughly 6cm. long segments.

You can serve the salad warm or at room temperature.  Toss together the lentils, asparagus and most of the remaining watercress.  Add pieces of cheese as you plate up and garnish with the reserved watercress.  Serve with wedges of lemon.

NOTES

I think this salad would be lovely served with a piece of roast chicken or salmon with a salsa verde sauce for the chicken or salmon.  To make a salsa verde sauce you need 1 large bunch of mixed herbs (parsley, basil and mint say), 1 clove of garlic, 2 tbsps. of capers, 3 gherkins, 2 – 3 anchovy fillets, 1 heaped tbsp. of french mustard, 4 tbsps. olive oil, 1 – 2 tbsps. red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.  Chop all the herbs, capers, gherkins and mix with the rest of the ingredients.

Alternatively, you could add a cooked breast of chicken or salmon to the salad, omit the cheese, and make it a more substantial dish.

STRAWBERRY LABNEH

500g. thick (not low fat) Greek yogurt
400g. strawberries
1 ½  tsp. caster sugar
2 tsps.rosewater
3 tbsps. good honey

Mix yogurt and 50g. of icing sugar and set over a basin lined with muslin or a clean J-cloth.  Put in the fridge and leave to drain overnight (12 hours is best).

Hull and quarter the strawberries and mix with the sugar and rosewater and leave to macerate for a few hours.

Gently fold the honey into the labneh which, by now, will resemble cream cheese.  Puree a quarter of the strawberries, pile the rest on top of the labneh and drizzle with the pureed strawberries.

NOTES

This can be served with poached fruits such as plums or rhubarb, or raspberries rather than strawberries.

To make savoury labneh mix 500g. of thick Greek yogurt with 1/2 tsp. of salt and leave to drain overnight as before.

Make the labneh into balls by rolling between your hands to shape them and then leaving on a clean cloth lined tray.  They can be marinated in olive oil (4 tbsps. for this quantity), some dried oregano or fresh thyme leaves (about 1 tbsp.), the zest of a lemon and a few chilli flakes.  Store in the fridge and serve with flatbreads as a starter or nibble. 

Recipes for May 2022

Quick Rhubarb Chutney with Cardamom

Makes 2 x 500g. jars

200mls. cider vinegar
400g. soft light brown sugar
100g. raisins
2 red onions, chopped
2cm. piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
seeds from 20 cardamom pods
4 – 5 star anise
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. salt
1kg. rhubarb, cut into 3cm. lengths

Put all the ingredients except the rhubarb into a large, heavy based pan, bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes.  Add the rhubarb and bring back to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cool slightly and spoon into dry, warm, sterilised jars, (you can sterilise them in a very hot dishwasher, or boil them in a pan of water for 10 minutes.  Cover with a wax disc, then seal and label with the date.  This chutney can be eaten straight away.  Once opened it is best stored in the fridge, and will keep for up to a month.

TIPS

You can use this chutney in the usual way with bread and cheese, or alongside cottage pie, but it is also good heated through and served with roast pork, duck or grilled mackerel. 

I sterilise my jars in the oven, at a low temperature, for about 15 minutes.

Fillet of Salmon with Sweet-Sour Beetroot and Dill Crème Fraiche – Serves 6

For the dill crème fraiche:

200g. / 7ozs. crème fraiche
2 tbsps. grain mustard
1 ½ tbsps. chopped dill

For the beetroot:

500g. / 1lb. cooked beetroot
50g. / 2ozs. unsalted butter
½ tbsp. oil
2 red onions, finely sliced
2 tbsps. caster sugar
1 ½ tbsps. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

For the salmon:

30g. / 1¼ozs. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. oil
6 x 175g. (6oz.) salmon fillets
good squeeze of lemon juice

 

To make the dill crème fraiche simply mix the crème fraiche, mustard and dill together and refrigerate until you need it.

Cut the beetroot into small pieces.  Season and taste for sweet/sour balance, you may want more sugar or vinegar.  Set aside and reheat before serving.  Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and cook the onions until soft.  Add the beetroot and increase the heat.  Cook for 2 minutes, then add the sugar and stir until beginning to caramelize.  Add the vinegar and let it bubble.

Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan.  Season the salmon on both sides and cook over a medium heat, flesh side down, for 1½ – 2 minutes or until golden.  Turn over and cook for 1½ – 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat and cook until done but still moist.  Squeeze on some lemon juice.  Serve with the beetroot and dill crème fraiche.

TIPS

We had this dish for lunch and I used vacuum packed beetroot which worked well.  Just pat it dry before cooking.  I also used dried dill, about 1 tsp., as fresh dill is often hard to come by.

I served it with new potatoes.

April 2022 Recipes

EASY LEMON TART – Serves 6

Pastry:

125g. plain flour
100g. melted butter
3 tbsps. icing sugar, sieved

Lemon Filling:

150mls. whipping or double cream, not single
50g. caster sugar
2 large eggs
2 large lemons, juiced and the rind of 1

  1. Mix the flour and sieved icing sugar in a bowl.  Melt the butter and press the dough into the base and sides of a 7 inch / 18cm. diameter pie tin (I used a sponge tin with a loose base).  Bake blind for 20 minutes at 190 degrees.  Cool.  Reduce oven temperature to 150.
  2. Whisk all the filling ingredients together and pour into the pastry lined tin.  Bake for another 35 – 40 minutes until set.  Allow to cool before slicing.  This would be lovely served with some raspberries / blueberries and some coulis.  It does not require more cream in my opinion.

TIPS

Baking blind stops you getting a soggy bottom.  I have special baking (ceramic beans) but you can use rice or any dried beans.  Just line the tin with baking parchment so that the base is weighed down.

I didn’t refrigerate my tart and it lasted for 3 days.  Keeping it out of the fridge stopped the pastry going soggy.  It was beautifully crisp the first day, not quite so crisp the following day but still very good.

Pour the filling into the tin whilst it is in the oven and on a baking tray then you won’t have to carry it across the kitchen – use a jug for the purpose.

SLOW COOKED SHOULDER OF LAMB WITH ROSEMARY AND ONION SAUCE – Serves 4 – 6

 

6 garlic cloves
5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
10 bay leaves
2 – 2.2kg. shoulder of lamb
salt & pepper
250mls. red wine

For the rosemary and onion sauce

50g. butter
1 onion (about 200g. finely sliced)
2 tbsps. plain flour
500mls. milk
2 tbsps. cream or creme fraiche
1 tbsp. finely chopped rosemary

Preheat the oven to 160/ gas mark 2-3.  Place the unpeeled garlic in the bottom of a large roasting tin with the rosemary and bay leaves.  Sit the lamb on top and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 2 hours, then pour in the wine and roast for a further hour.

To make the sauce, melt the butter over a low heat, add the onion and saute until soft.  Stir in the flour and then add the milk gradually, stirring all the time.  Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes, add the cream and rosemary and cook for another 5 minutes, again stirring all the time.  The sauce should not be too thick so add the little more milk if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper.

Take the lamb out of the oven and transfer to a warm plate.  Cover in foil whilst you make the gravy.  Discard the rosemary, bay leaves and garlic and spoon off all the fat.  Put the tin over a medium heat and add a little water (or vegetable water) and bring to the boil, stirring to make a gravy.  Arrange the lamb meat in chunks on a serving plate, pour over the gravy and serve with the rosemary and onion sauce.

March 2022 Recipes

FAST CHEESY HERB MUFFINS – Makes 12

Good with soup, salads or for eating on the go!

275g. / 10ozs. self raising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
50g. / 2ozs. butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
250mls. / 9fl. ozs. milk
75g. / 3ozs. cheddar, grated
leaves of 1 bunch of basil, chopped
75g. / 3ozs. pitted black olives, chopped
2 tbsps. sun-dried tomato paste

  1. You will need a 12 hole muffin tin and 12 muffin cases.  Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/ gas mark 6.
  2. Measure the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.  Mix the butter, egg and milk together in a jug.
  3. Add the cheese, basil and olives to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix well.  Pour in the wet ingredients and gently stir everything together using a fork.  Mix in the sun-dried tomato paste right at the end to give a rippled effect through the batter.
  4. Divide the mixture between the cases and bake in the oven for 18 – 20 minutes until well risen and lightly golden brown.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  Serve warm or cold.

TIPS

These are best made and eaten on the day but will keep for 2 days in the fridge in an airtight container.  They freeze well for up to a month.  Defrost and warm through at a low heat in the oven to refresh.

If you can’t find muffin cases you could use cupcake cases, they are larger than fairy cake cases but not quite as deep as muffin cases, so the mixture may stretch to a few extra muffins.  Gently swirl in the sun-dried tomato paste, without stirring it in completely, as this gives a lovely hit of tomato when you eat the muffin.

CHICKEN AND LEEK SUET CRUST PIE – Serves 6

2 tbsps. oil
4 slim, small leeks or 2 fat ones, trimmed and sliced
3 carrots, peeled and cut fairly small
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts (about 450g. in weight)
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tbsps. plain flour
150mls. (5fl. ozs.) Marsala or sherry
200g. / 7ozs. full-fat creme fraiche
2 tbsps. chopped parsley

For the pastry:

150g. / 6ozs. self raising flour
75g. / 3ozs. suet
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten

  1. You will need a 26cm. / 10 1/2 inch pie dish that can hold about 1.2 litres (2 pints).  Preheat the oven to 220c/200c fan/ gas mark 7.
  2. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan.  Add the leeks, carrots and onion and fry until soft.  Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining oil, season the chicken and fry over a high heat until browned.  Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Whisk the flour and Marsala / sherry in a bowl until smooth then tip into the pan.  Add the crème fraiche and stir until thickened and combined.  Add back in the leeks, chicken etc.  Add the parsley, season, spoon into the pie dish and allow to cool.  You could do this step the day before.
  5. To make the pastry, measure the flour, suet and salt into a large bowl and pour in enough water (about 100mls. / 3fl. ozs.) to make a soft dough.  Add the water gradually, do not tip it all in at once, and stir with a knife as you go.  Bring together with your hands and lightly knead.  Roll out on a floured surface to about 1cm. / 1/2 inch thick and large enough to cover the top of the pie dish.
  6. Brush the edge of the dish with a little of the beaten egg, then carefully lay the pastry over the filling.  Trim the edges and press to seal.  Brush with more beaten egg and make a small hole in the middle of the pastry to allow steam to escape.  Place on a baking sheet and cook for about 25 – 30 minutes until lightly golden.
  7. Serve with boiled or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

TIPS

I had a pie dish of exactly the right dimension, but I also have 2 that are deep and oval, so if you can get the filling in, a dish of that type would be fine.  You wouldn’t need as much pastry for covering the top with a dish of that shape.

If you have a pie funnel (I have 2) I suggest you use one as it keeps the lid from getting soggy on the bottom by holding it up.  You can still buy pie funnels in a good kitchen shop (I have seen them in the one in Ledbury).

The pie can be totally assembled up to 6 hours ahead and baked to serve.  The pre-baked pie freezes well.  Bake straight from frozen for 40 – 45 minutes.

Recipes for February 2022

CAULIFLOWER AND WALNUT CREAM

Serves 4

1 medium cauliflower
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
450mls. / 3/4 pint chicken or vegetable stock
450mls. / 3/4 pint milk
45ms. / 3 tbsps. walnut pieces
salt and pepper
paprika and chopped walnuts to garnish

1. Trim the cauliflower of outer leaves and break into small florets. Place the cauliflower, onion and stock in a large saucepan.

2. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the milk and walnut pieces, then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.

3. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper, then reheat. Serve sprinkled with a dusting of paprika and chopped walnuts.

MARMALADE QUEEN OF PUDDINGS

Serves 4 – 6

10g. butter, plus extra for greasing
565mls. full fat milk
100g. breadcrumbs
zest of 1 lemon
50g. caster sugar
3 medium eggs
2 generous tbsps. thick cut marmalade

1.Heat the oven to 150 C/ gas mark 2. Butter a medium baking dish. Heat the milk until it just reaches the boil. Remove from the heat and add the butter, breadcrumbs, lemon zest and 25g. of the sugar. Thoroughly mix so that the butter really melts.

2. Set this aside for 15 minutes to swell and melge. When it is a little cooler separate the eggs and add the yolks to the custard. Use a small hand whisk to amalgamate. Pour this mixture into the buttered dish and place in the oven for about 30 – 35 minutes until just set.

3. Meanwhile melt the marmalade in a saucepan and spoon over the baked custard base.

4, Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Whisk in the remaining sugar and spoon this on top of the pudding. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes or until the soft meringue is beginning to turn golden. Wait for about 15 minutes before eating.

TIPS

1. You will always get a smoother soup with a blender than with a food processor.

2. You can make Queen of Puddings with a jam rather than marmalade. I have used this recipe as it is the marmalade making season. I used brioche bread to make my breadcrumbs and cut it into slices the night before, spreading it on a rack so that it was stale by the time I used it. Do not use ready made breadcrumbs.

3. We ate the leftovers cold and still liked it. If you try heating meringue in a microwave it will disintegrate. I used to volunteer in a Lunch Club for older people and would watch them asking for lemon meringue pie to be heated in the microwave, The meringue would virtually disappear.