July Recipes

HASSELBACK AUBERGINE PARMIGIANA – Serves 4

1 large onion, chopped
5 tbsps. olive oil
3 crushed garlic cloves
2 tbsps. tomato puree
500mls. tomato passata
400g. tin chopped tomatoes
2 1/2 tsps. dried oregano
1 tsp. caster sugar
large pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
2 large aubergines
50g. grated Parmesan
1 mozzarella ball
30g. dried breadcrumbs
small handful fresh basil

  1. Heat the oven to 200C fan / gas mark 7.  In a large frying pan heat 1 tbsp. of the oil and fry the onion for 5 minutes.  Add garlic fry for one more minute.  Then add the tomato puree and fry for a further minute.
  2. Pour in the passata, chopped tomatoes, 2 tsps. dried oregano, the caster sugar and chilli if using.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes until slightly reduced.  Pour the sauce into your baking dish.
  3. Take the aubergines and make widthways cuts at 1cm. intervals, three quarters of the way through, so the slices are still attached at the bottom.  Drizzle with 3 tbsps. olive oil, getting into the cuts.  Spoon a little tomato sauce into the cuts, along with 30g. grated Parmesan.  Arrange the aubergines in the baking dish on top of the sauce and bake for 30 minutes or until the aubergines are slightly charred.
  4. Cut the mozzarella ball into 6 – 8 pieces then dot over the aubergines.  In a small bowl mix the dried breadcrumbs with 20g. grated Parmesan, 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1/2 tsp. dried oregano.  Sprinkle over the aubergines and bake for a further 20 – 30 minutes until the cheese is golden and the aubergines are tender.  Top with fresh basil and serve with crusty bread and a green salad.  

 

BEETROOT SALAD = Serves 4

2 medium beetroot
dash olive oil
20g. blanched almonds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 red eating apple cut into 2cm cubes
1 green eating apple cut into 2cm. cubes
1/2 small red onion sliced
handful fresh herbs
salt and pepper

Dressing:

150g. plain yogurt
1 lime, zest and juice
2 tsps. runny honey

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.
  2. Line a baking tray with kitchen foil and place the beetroot in the middle.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil.  Wrap the foil around the beetroots, seal and bake for 1 hour.
  3. Place a small frying pan over a low heat and toast the nuts and cumin seeds for 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  4. Peel and cut the beetroot into 2cm. cubes and place in a large, glass bow.  Stir in the apple, nuts, seeds and herbs.
  5. To make the dressing mix the ingredients together in a bowl.  Just before serving dress the salad and mix well. 

TIPS

The best Mozzarella is buffalo mozzarella.  You could use Parmigiano Reggiano rather than Parmesan, or even a strong Cheddar if you wished.

Do not prepare the beetroot salad too much in advance as the apple will discolour.  If preparing it slightly in advance toss the apple in lemon juice which will stop them going brown.

When toasting the nuts and seeds do be careful as they burn very easily.  Do not have your heat too high.

June Recipes – Spring Pea Dip and Strawberry Cake

SPRING PEA DIP

250g. frozen peas or petit pois
a large knob of butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 x 100g. bag watercress, spinach and rocket
25g. hard cheese finely grated
1 tbsps. chopped mint leaves
2 tbsps. olive oil
Extra mint leaves and cheese shavings to decorate

This can be made up to 2 days ahead and chilled.  Remove from the fridge 2 hours before serving.  It can also be frozen but leave out the mint.  Defrost and allow to come to room temperature before adding the mint, finely chopped.

Put the peas in a large bowl and cover with just boiled water.  Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then drain in a sieve, and run under cold water.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a frying pan, add the shallot and cook gently for 5minutes, stir in the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Add the salad leaves plus 1 tbsp. water and cover with a lid.  Cook gently for 2 – 3 minutes until wilted.  Stir in the peas and remove from the heat.

Transfer to a food processor with the grated cheese, mint and olive oil.  Whizz briefly to a chunky puree.  Season, transfer to a serving bowl and decorate with cheese shavings and mint leaves.  Serve with bread, toasted or otherwise. 

FRESH STRAWBERRY CAKE

250g. plain flour
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
85g. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
225g. caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp.vanilla extract
120mls. milk
About 340g. strawberries (see below), hulled and halved (but quarter if large)

Preheat the oven to 180.  You will cook the cake for 10 minutes at this temperature and then reduce to 165 for about 35 minutes.

Butter a 9 inch deep dish or a 9 inch square cake tin.  In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In another bowl beat the butter and all the sugar apart from 2 tbsps. until pale and fluffy, about 3minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat again until well combined.  Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, and beat on low speed until smooth.  It will be like a thick batter.

Transfer the batter to the prepared dish / tin and smooth with a spatula.  Arrange the strawberries on top, cut side down, so that they completely cover the batter (use more or less if necessary).  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tbsps. sugar.

Bake until the cake is lightly golden and a tester comes out clean.  It can take up to another 35 – 50 minutes.  Let the cake cool in the dish / tin and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.  The cake can be stored loosely covered for several days at room temperature.

NOTES

I thought the dip would be nice to serve with drinks in the garden, always providing the weather holds and felt a strawberry recipe was called for at this time of year.  The chef baked his cake in an earthenware dish.  I would serve it directly from the dish.  If you use a tin instead I would line it.  I am a great one for lining tins, even when the instructions do not tell you to.  It just makes life so much easier.

March Recipes

LEEK AND KALE PEARL BARLEY RISOTTO WITH CRISPY BACON – Serves 4

3 leeks, finely sliced
oil for frying
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
150g. bacon lardons or bacon chopped into small pieces
250g. pearl barley
1 litre chicken stock
200g. chopped curly kale
3 tbsps. creme fraiche
juice of 1 lemon
finely chopped parsley (optional)

  1. Heat a glug of oil in a large, deep frying pan and add the leeks.  Fry for 3 – 4 minutes, then add the garlic, half the bacon and the pearl barley.  Gently fry for a further 2 – 3 minutes, then slowly start to add the chicken stock.
  1. As the pearl barley absorbs the stock, keep slowly adding more.  When three quarters of the stock has been added (this will take 15 – 20 minutes) pour in the remaining stock, then gently simmer until the barley is cooked (another 10 – 15 minutes).
  1. Meanwhile, in a small frying pan cook the remaining bacon and set aside.  Stir the kale into the barley in batches and simmer for a few minutes.
  1. Season to taste, stir in the creme fraiche and lemon juice then serve up sprinkled with parsley if you wish.

NOTES;

You can, of course, make this dish vegetarian by omitting the bacon.

You get more juice from a lemon if you roll it first, don’t ask me why, I was taught that tip at Catering College.

If rice risottos frighten you there are quite a few oven baked risotto recipes to be found on the internet.  They are very successful, I have tried some.

RHUBARB AND WHISKEY FOOL – Serves 4. 

400g. rhubarb
500mls. water
100g. caster sugar
1 tbsp. runny honey
284mls. double cream
3 tbsps. whiskey

  1. Chop the rhubarb into pieces and place in a saucepan with the water, sugar and honey.  Bring to the boil and simmer until thick with strands of broken-down rhubarb.  Leave to cool, preferably overnight.
  1. Whip the cream until it is really stiff and doesn’t move.  Mix the whiskey into the rhubarb and finally fold this into the whipped cream.  I would whip the cream and fold in the fruit at the last minute when ready to serve the dessert and not do it in advance.

February Recipes – Jane’s Borscht and Carrot Puree

Jane’s Borscht

Serves 6

500g. / 1lb. 2ozs. raw beetroot, peeled and grated (or finely chopped into small cubes)
500g. / 1lb. 2ozs. red cabbage, finely shredded
3 tbsps. tomato puree
2 tbsps. red wine vinegar
125g. / 4 1/2 ozs. butter
1.2 litres beef stock (use vegetable if preferred)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
salt and pepper
1 tbsp. brown sugar

To garnish

275mls. / 1/2pt. soured cream

Put the beetroot and red cabbage into a large saucepan.  Stir in the tomato puree, vinegar, half the butter and the stock.  Cover, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour.

Melt the remaining butter and saute the onion and carrot until soft.  Add to the beetroot and red cabbage mixture, cover and simmer gently for a further 15 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and add the brown sugar.  Serve garnished with sour cream.

Carrot Puree

This works well as a sauce for lamb meatballs, but is also delicious as a dip with pitta bread or spread over barbecued kebabs.

4 large carrots
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
juice of 1/2 lemon
a few sprigs of fresh mint
4 tbsps. natural yoghurt
freshly ground black pepper, sea salt
2 garlic cloves

Peel and chop the carrots.  Place in a pan with water and bring to the boil.  Simmer until they are very tender.  Drain away the water and return to a low heat.

Add the olive oil and the caraway seeds and sweat for a moment.  Cool before blending with half the lemon juice and then add the mint leaves.  Add more oil if needed.  Turn into a bowl.

Beat the yogurt with some salt and pepper, remaining lemon juice and the crushed garlic.  Make a well in the centre of the carrot puree and put the yogurt mixture into this. 

NOTES

I tried this puree without the mint leaves with beetroot and it was lovely but took longer to soften the beetroot than the carrots.

Caraway seeds can be found at Handley Organics, they have a very distinctive flavour which I really like.

January Recipe – Roots, Barley and Lamb Cawl with Cheddar Puffs

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 tbsps. olive oil
2 medium lamb shanks, about 425g. each
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 leek, trimmed, halved lengthways and chopped
2 medium parsnips, about 250g., chopped into 1cm. cubes
250g. peeled celeriac, chopped into 1cm. cubes
350g. carrots, chopped into 1cm. cubes
2 bay leaves
3 tbsps. thyme leaves
100g. pearl barley, rinsed
2 tbsps. tomato puree
1 x 500ml. bottle of ale
1.5ltr. vegetable, chicken or lamb stock
150g. shredded kale

For the cheddar puffs:

1 x 320g. sheet ready rolled puff pastry
100g. mature cheddar, grated
3 tbsps. milk

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150C / fan 130C / gas mark 2. Heat 1 tbsp. of the oil in a large, heavy based casserole.  Season the lamb shanks, brown them all over on a high heat and remove to a plate.
  2. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan with the onion and leek and cook for 4 – 5 minutes until starting to soften. Tip in the parsnips, celeriac, carrots, bay leaves and thyme with some seasoning and cook for 2 – 3 minutes.
  3. Add the pearl barley and tomato puree and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Pour in the ale and the stock and return the lamb to the pan,  The pearl barley will absorb a lot of the liquid.  Bring to the boil, then cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours.  The vegetables, barley and lamb should all be tender, with the meat coming off the bone easily.  Cook for another 15 – 30 minutes if necessary.  Remove the bay leaves, check the seasoning and add the kale and stir through.  Return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, unroll the pastry sheet and give it another roll with a rolling pin until it is quite thin. Cut the pastry in half, scatter most of the cheese over one piece, and put the other piece on top.  Roll together to seal in the cheese and using a 6cm. cutter stamp out 18 or so rounds and place on a lined baking tray.  Brush with the milk and sprinkle the tops with the rest of the cheese.
  5. Remove the casserole from the oven and increase the temperature to 200C / fan 180C / gas mark 6. Bake the puffs for 12 – 15 minutes until crisp and golden.
  6. Lift the lamb shanks out on to a board and use 2 forks to pull the meat apart into large shreds. Stir back through the casserole.  Ladle into bowls and serve topped with the cheddar puffs.

Tips

You can vary the vegetables used e.g. use swede instead of celeriac if preferred.  Portions can be adjusted if cooking for less than 6.  I would just use one lamb shank if I was feeding 4 but probably stick to the same number of vegetables, stock etc . as it could always be eaten the following day as a hearty soup.

Christmas Recipies

I have spoilt you and given you two recipes this month, one sweet one savoury!

MINCEMEAT PANFORTE

Makes one 20cm. panforte

100g. plain flour
40g. cocoa powder
good pinch of salt
1 tbsp. gd. cinnamon
2 tsps. gd. ginger
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. freshly gd. black pepper (optional but gives good heat)
300g. assorted whole nuts (I used almonds and hazelnuts)
100g. candied peel
100g. dark chocolate buttons, or dark chocolate chopped
200g. caster sugar
100g. runny honey
200g. mincemeat

Preheat the oven to 170C / 150C fan / Gas 3 1/2 and line a 21cm. round, loose-bottomed or springform tin with baking parchment.

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, salt, spices, nuts and candied peel.  Mix to combine.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of boiling water or use a microwave set to low-medium, giving the chocolate short, sharp bursts until melted.

Heat the sugar and honey in a small pan over a moderate heat, stirring to help the sugar dissolve, then rapidly boil for 45 to 60 seconds.

Remove from the heat, stir in the mincemeat and pour this mixture over the melted chocolate, stirring to combine.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix well.  The mixture should be very sticky and dense.  Tip into the prepared tin and press to flatten it out (use wet hands if you like).

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is firm to the touch and no traces of chocolate are left on your hand when you touch it.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before removing from the tin.  It will keep for a month in an air tight container.  Wrap whole or in wedges to give as a gift. 

SPICY TURKEY FAJITAS – Serves 6

A good way to use left over turkey.  Marinate it for up to 24 hours before cooking.

about 700g. cooked turkey, cut into thin strips
juice of 2 limes
a dash of Tabasco
2 tbsps. olive oil, plus a little extra
salt and pepper
12 fajitas or tortillas
8 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
1 large red pepper thinly sliced
3/4 tsp. each of gd. coriander, turmeric and paprika

To serve:

soured cream or creme fraiche, romaine or Cos lettuce, mango chutney

Preheat oven to 160C / 140C fan / gas 3.

Marinate the turkey with the lime juice, Tabasco, olive oil, salt and pepper, for at least 30 minutes.  Wrap the 12 fajitas or tortillas in foil and heat for 5 minutes in the oven.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the spring onions and pepper until cooked.  Add the turkey to the pan with the spices and fry for a further few minutes.  Pour over any remaining marinade and cook for a further minute.

Put the soured cream or creme fraiche, lettuce and mango chutney in 3 separate bowls.  Transfer the fajitas to a basket and spoon the meat into a warm serving dish.  Everybody helps themselves.  Spread half the fajita with mango chutney, sour cream, lettuce and turkey and vegetables.  Roll up and enjoy. 

Here’s wishing you all a happy Christmas and good cooking.

Best Wishes,

Liz

Pear, Marsala, Coffee and Chocolate Trifle

Serves 8

Ingredients

125g. raisins
275mls. Marsala
150mls. strong black coffee
1 tbsp. soft light brown sugar
145g. sponge fingers
15g. hazelnuts, toasted and very roughly chopped
6 tbsps. cocoa powder
300mls. double or whipping cream
2 tbsps. caster sugar

For the custard:

4 large egg yolks
65g. caster sugar
2 1/2 tbsps. cornflour
250mls. whole milk
300mls. double cream
1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the pears:

300mls. dry white wine or cider
125g. granulated sugar
2 strips of lemon rind
2 tsps. vanilla extract
4 Williams pears, peeled, halved and cored

Method

  1. Put the raisins in a saucepan and add 200mls. of Marsala.  Bring to just under the boil, remove from the heat and leave the raisins to plump up.
  2. For the custard, Put the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a large bowl and mix well.  Heat the milk, cream and vanilla in a large pan until just below boiling, then take off the heat and slowly pour over the sugar and egg mixture, whisking continuously.
  3. Clean the pan, put the egg and cream mixture into it and whisk over a medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes until thickened.  If any lumps appear whisk the mixture or beat hard with a wooden spoon.  Pour into a large bowl, cover with greaseproof paper or baking parchment and leave to cool completely.
  4. Put the wine, 200mls. water, the sugar and lemon rind into a saucepan and heat, stirring to get the sugar to dissolve.  Add the vanilla and pears and cook gently until the pears are just soft.  Leave the pears in the liquid until they are cool.
  5. Put the hot coffee into a dish and add the light brown sugar and the rest of the Marsala.  Dip the sponge fingers in the coffee mixture and lay 2 for every portion in the bottom of eight glasses or bowls (each with a volume of about 250mls.), breaking them up if necessary.
  6. Spoon the raisins on top of the sponge, scatter on the nuts and sift some of the cocoa powder over the top.  Slice the pears thickly and divide between the glasses, then add the custard.
  7. Put the glasses / bowls in a roasting tin, or something similar, cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge for 2 hours.
  8. Before you serve sift some cocoa powder on top of the custard.  Whip the cream and add the caster sugar and spoon this on top of each trifle.  Sprinkle the rest of the cocoa powder on top and serve.

Notes

You can use tinned pears in a natural juice, not syrup, if you do not want to poach your own.  Fresh pears are, of course, in season this month.

If you do not want to make fresh custard you could use custard powder at a push.  If you make fresh custard you do not have to use cream.  I make mine with all milk but I use gold top.  Do not have the heat too high when you have mixed in the eggs as otherwise you will end up with scrambled egg.  You can buy fresh custard in the chiller cabinet also if you wish.

You could replace the Marsala with sweet sherry if you do not have Marsala or wish to buy it.

I use Greek yoghurt on top of my trifles as it is less sweet.  I also use Greek yoghurt on my pavlovas as it adds a bit of tartness.  I can also kid myself that I am being healthier by not using cream!!

I thought this might be a nice recipe for Christmas.  You could always make it in one large bowl if you preferred or didn’t have the glasses to make individual ones.