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.

October Recipe – Cabbage and Sausage Hotpot

(Serves four)

A really easy recipe this month:-

Ingredients

2 tbsps. olive oil
12 sausages (that allows for 3 each so you might want less!)
2 tsps. fennel seeds
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. cayenne or mild chilli pepper
1 white cabbage (weighing about 1.5kg.)
1 large glass of wine (about 200mls.)
1 large pear
black pepper and salt
1 tsp. brown sugar

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan on a medium flame.  Add the sausages for a few minutes with the fennel and mustard seeds and the cayenne pepper.  Allow them to become a little brown and then remove from the pan.
  2. Finely slice the cabbage.  Then add the cabbage and wine to the saucepan and core and roughly chop the pear and add this.
  3. Place the lid on the saucepan, or hob proof casserole, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn down to a low flame and return the sausages to the pot, along with salt, pepper and the sugar and simmer with the lid on for a further 20 minutes.

This was, I thought, a good recipe for this time of year and we are lucky to have good butchers in Ledbury who make a large variety of excellent sausages!

September Recipe – Blackberry Bakewell Pudding

Ingredients

225g. / 8ozs. blackberries
50g. / 2ozs. blackberry jam
175g. / 6ozs. softened butter
75g. / 3ozs. caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
175g. / 6ozs. ground almonds
40g. / 1 1/2ozs. plain flour
50g. / 2ozs. icing sugar
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbsps. flaked almonds, toasted

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C / fan 160C gas mark 4.  In a medium bowl mix together the blackberries and jam.  Spread evenly over the bottom of a 1 litre / 1 3/4pt. baking dish.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Gradually beat in the eggs, then gently fold in the ground almonds and flour.  Spoon mixture over the blackberries and smooth the surface.  Bake for 45 minutes.
  3. Sieve the icing sugar into a small bowl and whisk with just enough lemon juice for a runny yet thick icing.  Top the pudding with the toasted flaked almonds and the, using a teaspoon, drizzle over the icing.

Tips

If you are avoiding gluten make this with a gluten-free flour.

It can be frozen ahead.  Bake up to the end of step 2, cool completely, wrap well in clingfilm and freeze.  Defrost thoroughly at room temperature overnight.  It can be  enjoyed at room temperature or, to serve warm, preheat oven to 180C, 160C fan, gas mark 4 and bake on the middle shelf for 25 minutes.  Decorate before serving.

You can use different fruit in this recipe of course, plums are still in season as are damsons (use the appropriate jam), or pears, chopped small with a ginger jam or marmalade would be lovely, although obviously a different colour from the traditional bakewell. I have a lot of blackcurrants in the freezer and intend to use those.  Even apple, stewed first, would work, although it would be a pale colour.

August Recipe – Ratatouille in Tomato Pancakes

Pancake batter:

125g. / 4 1/2 ozs. plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
300mls. / 10fl ozs. milk (full fat is best)
a little olive oil for frying
2 tbsps. tomato puree
2 tbsps. water
1 tsp. dried basil

Ratatouille:

Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 aubergine, diced
2 courgettes, sliced or diced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp. tomato puree
2 tbsps. red wine
pinch of caster sugar
salt and pepper
2 tbsps. chopped basil
4 tbsps. grated Parmesan

Method:

  1. To make the pancake batter sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the egg and gradually work in the milk and beat to form a smooth batter.  Whisk in the tomato puree, 2 tbsps water and the dried basil. Leave to stand for 30 minutes.
  2. To make the pancakes, heat a little oil in a good non-stick crepe or omelette pan. Add a ladle of batter and swirl to coat the base.  Cook for 1 – 2 minutes until golden and then flip or turn over and cook the other side.  Slide on to a plate and keep warm whilst cooking the remaining pancakes, oiling the pan between each one.
  3. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, red and green peppers, aubergine and courgettes.  Fry stirring for 5 – 10 minutes until they begin to soften, then add tomatoes, tomato puree, wine, sugar, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes, then stir in the chopped basil.
  4. Use the ratatouille to fill the pancakes. Roll up and serve straight away, dusted with Parmesan.  Or, prepare the pancakes in advance, roll them up and place in a baking dish, sprinkle with cheddar cheese and reheat in a medium hot oven. .

Tips:

I don’t bother to let my pancake batter stand and it is still fine.  Do make sure you use a good non-stick pan, that is essential.  You can make the pancakes the day before and store in the fridge.  i put a sheet of kitchen paper between each one.  They also freeze really well but I wouldn’t try and freeze the ratatouille mixture, there is too much water in courgettes and aubergines for them to freeze well.

July Recipes – Courgettes

As courgettes are so readily available this month here are two recipes.

PUREE OF GRILLED COURGETTES WITH GOAT’S CHEESE AND HAZELNUTS

This recipe is for a starter but it would make a light lunch.

675g/ 1½ lbs similar sized courgettes
a little olive oil
40g / 1½ oz butter
¼ nutmeg, grated
75g / 3oz goat’s cheese log
40g / 1½ oz chopped hazelnuts
salt and pepper

Top and tail the courgettes, cut them in half lengthways and smear oil all over.  Heat the grill high and grill the courgettes on both sides until blackened in places.  Then put them in a food processor with the butter, grated nutmeg and some salt and pepper.  Whizz until smooth and scrape into a gratin dish.

Crumble the goat’s cheese into small pieces and sprinkle over the puree.  Scatter on the hazelnuts, drizzle over a little oil and put under a hot grill until the cheese is bubbling.  The dish can be kept warm in a low oven for up to half an hour.

Tips – Grilling the courgettes instead of steaming them dries them out a bit and also adds a pleasant smoky taste.  Serve with crusty bread.


FLORA’S FAMOUS COURGETTE CAKE

For the cake:

60g / 2 oz raisins, optional
250g / 9 oz courgettes (2 – 3) weighed before grating
2 large eggs
125ml   / 4½ fl oz vegetable oil
150g / 5½ oz  caster sugar
225g / 8 oz self raising flour
½ tsp. bicarb of soda and ½ tsp. baking powder

For the icing:

200g / 8 oz  cream cheese
100g / 4 oz  icing sugar, sieved
juice of 1 lime or more to taste
2 – 3 tbsps. chopped pistachio nuts

For the filling:

Lime or lemon curd

Preheat oven to 180C / gas mark 4.  Line 2 x 21cm / 9 inch sandwich tins and grease.

If you are using raisins put them in a bowl and cover with warm water to plump up.  Wipe the courgettes with a kitchen towel and grate.  The coarse side of a box grater is best.  Put them in a sieve over the sink to remove excess water.

Put the eggs, oil and sugar in a bowl and beat until creamy.  Sieve in the flour, bicarb and baking powder and beat until combined.  Stir in the courgettes and add the drained raisins.  Pour into the tins and bake for 30 minutes.  Leave in their tins for 5 – 10 minutes then turn out and cool on a rack.

If you cannot buy lime curd a good lemon will do with a little freshly squeezed lime juice added.  Beat the cream cheese until smooth, add the icing sugar and beat and stir in the lime juice to taste.  Put one cake on a plate and spread with the lime or lemon curd.  Put the other cake on top and smear thickly with the cream cheese icing.  If you feel the icing needs firming up put in the fridge for a while.

Just before serving scatter over the pistachios.  Serves 8.