Sunday, 18 December 2011

Petticoat Tails

Shortbread biscuits with a sugary top and a buttery flavour, what could be nicer, try them with a warming glass of mulled wine you will be pleasantly surprised.
I use salted butter, which seems to enhance the flavour.

They are very easy to make and keep for about 1 week in an airtight container.


6oz plain flour
3oz semolina
6oz salted butter, softened
3oz golden caster sugar

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Seive the flour and add to the semolina, gradually add to the creamed butter and sugar until a dough is formed (this can all be done in a food mixer).
Pre-heat the oven to 150C
Roll the dough lightly to form a round to fit a 20cm fluted tin, press into the tin and prick all over with a fork.
Bake for 1 hour until the shortbread is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and cool in the tin. Before the shortbread cools completely mark out wedges with a sharp knife.
Break into wedges and store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Mincemeat and Cranberry Muffins

This recipe makes 12 huge muffins which I thought would be good for sharing, apparently not!


20 oz plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp salt
6 oz granulated sugar
3 oz dried or fresh cranberries
3 oz sultanas
2 large eggs
16 oz ready-made mincemeat
480 ml whole milk
6 oz butter, melted

Pre-heat the oven to 180C
Place large muffin cases in a 12 hole muffin tin

Sift together in a large bowl, the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate soda, salt and sugar.

In another bowl mix together the eggs and milk, stir in the mincemeat and butter.

Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients, stir gently to combine (the mixture should be lumpy) finally stir in the cranberries and sultanas.

Spoon the mix into the muffin cases and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Christmas Chutney

My Christmas chutney (adapted from a Delia Smith recipe) is made and sitting on a shelf waiting for the appearance of the turkey, great cheeses, pies, and cold cuts of meat, and ready to perk up any leftovers.  It makes a great Christmas gift, (if you can bear to part with it.)

This chutney is very easy to make and can be eaten almost right away but will keep for years in a cool dark place and the flavour will develop with time.

I used my food processor to chop the onions and fruits, except the dates they don't chop well in the processor but only take 5 minutes to chop by hand.


For 4 x 350ml jars

570 ml cider vinegar
450 g onions, peeled and chopped
50 g salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp ground allspice
350 g prunes, no-soak variety, chopped
275 g dried apricots, no-soak variety, chopped
275 g pitted dates, chopped
150 g sultanas or dried cranberries
450 g demerara sugar

Place all the ingredients in a large pan mix well to combine.  Bring to the boil then simmer gently for 1.5 hours, accasionally stirring, until there is no visible liquid when you pull a wooden spoon through the middle.

Pour into warm steralized jars place on a waxed disc and seal with a tightly fitting lid.  Label when cool.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Salmon Fishcakes with Dill and Lemon Mayonnaise

Poached salmon makes great fishcakes.  I try to keep the flakes of fish as big as possible by folding the fish into the potato mixture after all the other ingredients have been incorporated.

Makes 5 large fishcakes

1 kg Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 large salmon fillets
1 bay leaf
12 whole peppercorns
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 large bunch dill, keep a few leaves for decoration then finely chop the rest (save 1 tbsp for the sauce)
1 tbsp capers, chopped
1tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly milled pepper
1 oz butter
Oil for shallow frying (I used rape seed oil)
3 slices seeded brown bread, made into breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp plain flour

Poach the salmon with the bay leaf and peppercorns in simmering water for 5 minutes then turn off the heat and place a lid on top.  After 7 minutes remove the lid and drain off the liquid.  Remove the peppercorns and bay leaf.

Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are tender, drain and return to the pan to dry out add the butter and mash until you have a smooth consistency.  Set aside.

Add the chopped capers, chopped dill, parsley and lemon juice to the potato mixture and mix thoroughly.  Flake the salmon fillets and gently fold them into the potato mixture.  Season to your taste with salt and pepper.
Mix the grated lemon zest into the breadcrumbs.

Form the fishcake mixture into large patties then dip each patty first into flour then into the beaten egg and finally into the breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan over a medium heat, test by dropping a few breadcrumbs into the pan, if they gently sizzle the oil is ready. 

Place the fishcakes in the frying pan and cook for 2 minutes, turn them and cook the other side for 2 minutes followed by a further minute each side.

For the dill and lemon mayonnaise

6 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 tbsp chopped dill
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from 1/2 lemon

Mix all the ingredients together and keep it cool until needed.

Serve the fishcakes piping hot with the mayonnaise on the side.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Little Pies with Chicken Ham Chestnuts and Cranberries

Another great freeze-away for Christmas, small savoury pies.  These ones have a bit of a festive edge with cranberries and chestnuts.

For the pastry

8 oz plain flour
2 oz butter, chilled and cut into cubes
2 oz white cooking fat, chilled and cut into cubes
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp English mustard powder
a little chilled water

Seive together the salt, flour and mustard powder.

Rub the fats into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs,  add cold water 1 tbsp at a time until the mixture forms a dough that is not too wet.

Place the dough in clingfilm and rest it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

For the filling

2 large chicken breasts, cut into smallish pieces
1 small red onion, finely chopped
100 g vacuum packed chestnuts, chopped
25 g dried cranberries
200 g unsmoked bacon, chopped
1 tbsp chopped sage leaves
1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
Salt and freshly milled pepper
150 ml double cream
1 tbsp olive oil
Knob of butter

Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat, add the onion and fry gently until softened then add the chicken and bacon, turn the heat up slightly and stir fry for 4 minutes until lightly browned.

Toss in the chestnuts and cranberries and cook for a couple of minutes then add the cream , stir to combine then simmer for 2 minutes.  The cream should reduce a little.

Taste the mixture add pepper and salt, if necessary.

Stir in the chopped herbs and leave to cool while you roll the pastry.

On a lightly floured surface roll the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin and using a 3" round cutter cut out 12 rounds, roll out the remaining pastry and cut out 12 x 2.5" rounds for pie lids.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C

Place the larger rounds into a 12 hole muffin tin and spoon in the filling, wet the edges of the lids with water and place one on top of each pie, press down the edges to seal and brush each pie with beaten egg.  Cut a couple of slits in the centre then bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle over a little sea salt.

Serve warm or cold.

To freeze, cool completely then wrap in cling film before freezing.  Defrost at room temperature.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Apple Galette

200g all butter puff pastry
160g Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into slices 1/8"
2 tbsp sugar,
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp apricot jam
Whole milk

Roll out pastry dough between 2 sheets of cling film to form a 1/8" thick round 14" in diameter.  Transfer the pastry to a baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Place apple slices, 1 tbsp sugar, and lemon zest in a bowl, stir to combine.

Spread the apricot jam over the pastry, leaving 1 1/2" plain border. Arrange apple slices in circles over the jam, overlapping slightly.

Fold plain edge border up over apples, pinching any cracks in the pastry. Brush with milk. Sprinkle pastry edges and apples with remaining tbsp sugar.

Bake the galette for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and continue baking until the pastry is golden, (about 20 minutes).

Remove from oven.  Let stand at least 10 minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Roast Saddle of Venison with Saute Potatoes and Croutons

Venison has higher iron levels than any other red meat, contains omega 3 fats and less fat than a skinned breast of chicken.

Cook venison as you would beef. To compensate for the lower fat content, I covered with streaky bacon, you could also marinate the meat overnight with red wine and herbs.

Serve it on very hot plates as venison fat has a high melting point and isnt quite so appetizing cold (unlike beef).
Serves 4

Saddle of venison approx 2 kg
8 shallots, peeled
2 glasses red wine, about 250ml
Salt and freshly ground pepper
200g streaky bacon
A few sprigs fresh rosemary
Beef or vegetable stock (I used the cooking liquor from the broccoli)
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly

Pre-heat the oven to 200C

Heat a casserole and add 1 tbsp oil, add the venison and seal on all sides.  Remove the meat. 

Add the shallots and wine to the casserole, sit the venison on top and cover it with rashers of streaky bacon and sprigs of rosemary.

Cook on the middle shelf of the oven for 40/45 minutes for medium rare / medium,  remove from the oven and rest the meat, wrapped in foil, for 20-30 minutes.

To make the gravy, heat the roasting juices in the casserole with the redcurrant jelly add 2 tsp cornflour mixed to a paste with 2 tbsp of water and use to thicken the gravy.

For the potatoes
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Olive oil

Boil the potatoes and garlic in salted water for 5 minutes, drain, remove the garlic and add it to the meat juices and toss in olive oil, cook on a baking tray for 15 minutes until golden brown.

For the croutons

Cut thin slices from a baguette, fry them over a medium heat in a little oil and butter for 30 seconds each side, drain on kitchen paper and keep them warm.

Serve with bacon, shallots, saute potatoes,gravy and croutons.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Chelsea Buns with Toasted Pecans

The Chelsea bun is a type of currant bun that was first created in the 18th century at the Bun House in Chelsea and although traditionally made with currants, I am using sultanas as they tend to add a bit more moisture to the bun.  The toasted pecans have a nice crunch.

For the buns

1 lb strong white flour,plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
1/4 oz fast action dried yeast
10fl oz milk
1½oz butter, softened
1 large egg
Sunflower oil for greasing
For the filling
1 oz butter, melted
3 oz soft brown sugar
2 oz toasted pecan nuts, chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
5oz sultanas
For the glaze
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp caster sugar
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast.

Meanwhile, warm the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter melts and the mixture is lukewarm.

Add the milk mixture and egg to the flour mixture and stir until the contents of the bowl come together as a soft dough. (You may need to add a little extra flour.)

Tip the dough onto a generously floured work surface. Knead for five minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer feels sticky.

Lightly oil a bowl with a little of the vegetable oil. Place the dough into the bowl and turn until it is covered in the oil. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside in a warm place for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Lightly grease a baking tray.

For the filling, knock the dough back to its original size and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangle ¼" thick. Brush all over with the melted butter, then sprinkle over the brown sugar, cinnamon, nuts and dried fruit.

Roll the dough up into a tight cylinder , cut ten 1½" slices and place them onto a lightly greased baking sheet, leaving a little space between each slice. Cover with a tea towel and set aside to rise for 30 minutes.  (I also put a few in a cake tin to make a round of buns).

Preheat oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

Bake the buns in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown.

Meanwhile, for the glaze, heat the milk and sugar in a saucepan until boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the glaze, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Toasted Pistachios

These delicious little puddings are quite gingery, which I like.  If you are not a big fan of ginger the pudding will still be delicious without it.

When they are ready let them stand for 5 minutes before serving, it makes such a difference to the flavour.


225g fresh dates, stoned
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
85g unsalted softened butter
170g caster sugar
2 large eggs
170g self-raising flour
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
¼ tsp ground mixed spice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
120g shelled pistachio nuts

For the sauce

115g unsalted butter
115g light muscovado sugar
140ml double cream

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.

Begin by toasting the pistachios in a hot frying pan for 5 minutes, shake the pan frequently as they burn easily.  Set them aside.

Put the dates in a bowl with the bicarbonate of soda and cover with 200ml of boiling water. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes then drain. Put the dates in a food processor and puree.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and light using a wooden spoon, then add the eggs, flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and ginger. Mix together then fold in the pureed dates and yoghurt.

Pour into buttered, pudding moulds then place the moulds into a roasting tin containing 2" boiling water and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until springy to the touch.

Make the toffee sauce by putting the butter, sugar and cream in a pan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has thickened and darkened in colour.

To serve, turn the puddings out and pour over the toffee sauce then sprinkle pistachios over each pudding.  Pour over cream or custard.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Chicken and Bacon Terrine with Basil and Peppers


4 large chicken breasts, cut into strips
large bunch basil, leaves only
12 oz smoked streaky bacon
1/2 red and 1/2 yellow pepper, cut into strips
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180C

Take a knife along the strips of bacon to stretch them, then line a terrine or loaf tin with overlapping strips.

Pack with alternate layers of chicken and basil, finish off with a layer of peppers and a drizzle of olive oil. Season each layer with salt and pepper.

Fold the bacon over the top of the terrine and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and cool completely in the tin before transferring it to the fridge.  Refigerate overnight.

To serve cut into slices and serve with some rocket leaves and a good chutney. (see my recipe for plum and ginger chutney posted 19 September).

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Spicy Meatloaf with Chorizo

I love meatloaf, the fact that you can eat it hot with mashed potato and cabbage, cold with salad, and best of all for me, sandwiches, especially sandwiches with crispy salad and home-made mayonnaise.

The addition of very finely chopped Chorizo makes it very special but remember to drain off any excess oil from the chorizo, when you remove the meatloaf from the oven.


1.5 lb very lean minced beef
2 oz brown breadcrumbs
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 oz chorizo, very finely chopped or minced
1 egg, beaten
Salt and freshly milled pepper

Pre heat the oven to 180C

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together thoroughly.

Press the mixture into a 2lb loaf tin and cook in the middle of the oven for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and drain off any excess oil.

To serve hot leave in the tin for 5 minutes before cutting.

To serve cold cool completely on a wire rack then wrap in clingfilm.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Cheese and Chive Buttermilk Scones

These buttermilk scones are very light and delicious.  Eat them warm with buttter or for breakfast with bacon and poached egg.  The cayenne pepper and mustard powder gives them a slight heat and the flavour of celery salt is just in the background.  I used around 1 tbsp of chopped chives but you can use less or more depending how strong you want the flavour.

6 oz self-raising flour
1 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 level tsp celery salt
finely chopped chives
1 oz butter
3 oz mature cheddar cheese, finely grated
2 1/2 tbsp buttermilk
1 egg

Pre-heat the oven to 220C

Sift together the flour, mustard powder, celery salt and rub in the butter.

Add the cheese (save some for the topping) and chives and mix gently.

Beat together the egg and buttermilk then add to the flour mix.  Stir with a knife to form a dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface.  Handle the dough as little as possible.

Roll out or pat down the dough to a thickness of 1" then cut into 2" rounds.

Place the rounds on a baking tray and brush with buttermilk then top each one with a little of the grated cheddar cheese.

Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden.

Serve warm or cold and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Lemon Drizzle Cake with Sherry-soaked Sultanas


225g S R flour
225g caster sugar
225g butter, softened
4 eggs
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
75g sultanas, soaked for 1 hour in 3 tbsp medium dry sherry

For the icing

85g caster sugar
1 1/2 lemons, juice only

Pre-heat the oven to 180C / gas 4

Beat together the caster sugar and butter until pale and fluffy then add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing slowly.

Sift in the flour and stir in the lemon zest and sultanas. 

Line a loaf tin (8 x 21cm ) with greaseproof paper, spoon in the mixture and flatten the top with the back of the spoon.

Bake for 45-55 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool the cake in it's tin.

Mix the icing ingredients together and prick the top of the cake all over with a cocktail stick then pour the icing over the top.  The juice will sink in and you will be left with a crunchy topping.

When the cake has cooled completely remove it from the tin and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Flower Pot Bread

A bit retro but flower pot bread is still an exciting project and the end result is very impressive.  The following recipe is for a white bread with seeds scattered on top before baking but the topping possibilities are endless, Red Leicester cheese and red onion, poppy seeds, rosemary, sundried tomatoes and olives, to name but a few.

Make sure your terracotta pots (buy new ones) are cleaned thoroughly then coat the inside with olive oil and bake at 180C for 45 minutes.  This will season the inside and make your bread less likely to stick.  Line the base of the pots with parchment paper to cover the hole.

This recipe makes 2 good sized loaves in 6" pots.  You can use any size you like and adjust the baking time accordingly.


1lb strong white bread flour
2 tsp dried yeast
3 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 pint tepid water
1/2 oz butter
2 oz mixed seeds

Stir 1 tsp sugar and the dried yeast into the tepid water and leave to stand until frothy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl stir together the flour, salt and the remaining sugar, add the butter and rub into the dry ingredients.  Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl and mix till a dough forms.

Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead, using the heel of your hand to push forward and fold back until the dough is smooth.

Break off 2 small balls of dough then cut the dough into 2 pieces and put 1 piece inside each pot.  Brush the dough with a little milk place the small balls of dough on top and scatter over the seeds.

Leave in a warm place for 45-60 minutes until doubed in size.

Pre-heat the oven to 230C

Bake the bread for 10- 30 minutes depending what size of pot you are using, the bread should be golden and sound hollow when tapped.

Cool on a wire tray then put back in the pots.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Spicy Plum and Ginger chutney

Chutney lovers will love this recipe for plum and ginger chutney.  I made double the recipe because it is so popular with the family, it is eaten liberally with pizza, cold cuts of meat, indian food, breads, terrines and of course, anything that involves cheese.

Its up to you whether you spice it with mild, medium or hot chillies, 2 medium sized red chillies with seeds results in mild/medium in the following recipe.


2 lb plums, stones removed then roughly chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium size red chillies, finely chopped
6 oz sultanas
1 lb demerara sugar
1 pint malt vinegar
1" piece of root ginger, sliced
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
8 cloves (for easy removal tie them in a piece of muslin)
2 tsp salt

Place all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to the boil.

Boil rapidly for 35-40 minutes until the chutney is thick, stir often.

Heat the jars up with very hot (not boiling) water then pour in the chutney.  Place a wax-paper disc on top and put the lid on.  Label when cool.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Banana and Sultana loaf

Make this banana and sultana loaf for a delicious, tea-time treat for the weekend, I can guarantee it will be a regular favourite.

Great on it's own or spread with a little butter.

4 oz soft margarine
4 oz sugar 
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas, roughly chopped or mashed
8 oz SR Flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice
5 oz sultanas

Cream together the margarine and sugar.
Add the beaten eggs.
Mash or chop the bananas, add to the butter and egg mixture and stir to mix.
Sift and fold in the flour, bicarb, spice and sultanas

Bake in a greased loaf tin for 40minutes at 180 C / Gas 4. 
Leave for 5 minutes before removing from the tin and cooling on a wire rack.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Stuffed Squash

For the stuffed squash

3 small squash
200g basmati rice, cooked for 5 minutes with 1 tsp salt, 1/2" cinnamon stick
3 green cardamon and 3 black cardamom.
1 tbsp sultanas
6 chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped and cooked in 1 tbsp oil
1/4 onion fried with 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp cumin then add 4 tbsp coconut milk.

Serves 6

Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F/ gas 5

Halve and de-seed the squash, score the flesh and brush with oil, season with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 40 minutes.
Remove the spices from the rice.

Mix all the stuffing ingredients together, check the seasoning and spoon it into the squash, return it to the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Dauphinoise Potatoes

Creamy layers of potato with garlic and nutmeg make Dauphinoise potatoes a real weekend treat. Whether you have a roast dinner or sausages or serve them with a crunchy salad for a vegetarian meal, give them a try for something a bit different.

Serves 8

1.25kg Maris Piper potatoes
300ml full cream milk
1/2 nutmeg, grated
300ml double cream
1 clove garlic, crushed
25g butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F/gas2

Use half the butter to coat an ovenproof dish
Place the milk, cream, garlic, 1tsp salt, a few grindings of black pepper and the grated nutmeg in a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil.
Thinly slice the potatoes either in a processor or with a mandolin slicer
Add the potatoes to the saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes.
Pour the potatoes into the buttered dish, dot a few knobs of butter on top and bake in the oven for 1 hour until browned on top.
Serve immediately

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Courgette Soup (the healthy version)

I have previously posted this recipe for Italian courgette soup but this version is low fat, especially for those of us who have had a great holiday with very good food and returned home to 'the courgette invasion' in the garden.

If you would prefer the full fat version see my post for 04.08. 2010.

Serves 4


500g courgettes, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Small bunch of basil, roughly torn
Small bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
2 oz parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 tbsp low fat yoghurt
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy based pan over a medium heat, add the courgettes salt, pepper and garlic, cook for 6 minutes until softened, stirring continuously.

Add the basil and cook for 1 minute then add the stock and simmer, without a lid for 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and blend until smooth.  Place back on a low heat and add the parmesan cheese, parsley and stir in the yoghurt.  Warm through gently and serve immediately in warmed bowls.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Blackberry Trifle with Blackberry Syrup

Using fresh blackberries straight from the garden in a light spongeless trifle, is a great way to retain that just picked flavour.

Sparkling wine jellies with whole berries, a light vanilla custard made with single cream and milk and a topping of  greek yoghurt drizzled with blackberry syrup, keeps it light and refreshing, a perfect summer dessert.

Makes 6 small or 1 large trifle

For the jelly
1lb fresh blackberries, reserve 1/3 for the bottom
of the glasses and decoration
4 sheets leaf geletine
700ml sparkling white wine

For the blackberry syrup
Remaining 2/3 of blackberries
2 tbsp icing sugar

Place the blackberries and icing sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the sugar is melted.  Cook gently for 5 minutes then press through a seive into a jug making sure you squeeze out all the juice.  Set aside.

To make the jelly 
Soak the geletine sheets in a little cold water then heat 100ml of the blackberry syrup in a sauce pan.  Remove the geletine from the cold water, shake off any excess and stir them into the hot syrup.  Gradually add the sparkling wine, stirring continuously until combined.

Save 6 blackberries for decoration then place the rest in the bottom of the trifle dish/dishes, pour the jelly over the berries then refrigerate until set.

For the custard
3 egg yolks
2 oz sugar
6 oz whole milk
4 oz single cream
1 tsp vanilla paste

Cream the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and thick enough to leave trails when you lift the spoon.

Bring the milk and cream to the boil, remove from the heat and pour into the egg mixture, whisking continuously.  Add the vanilla paste and return the mixture to the pan over a medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon until the custard is thick and coats the back of the spoon.  Transfer to a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to cool.

Remove the set jellies from the fridge and pour over some of the cooled custard, leave in the fridge for 30 minutes then spoon over some Greek yoghurt (you should need around 250ml)  Pour over some of the blackberry syrup and decorate with fresh berries.

Keep refigerated until needed.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Plum and Ginger Muffins

I never seem to run out of recipes to use my victoria plum harvest they are such a lovely flavour.  These muffins are delicious and even with the addition of ginger you can still taste the plums.

When they were baked and still warm I brushed the top of each one with ginger syrup, from a jar of stem ginger, then sprinkled over some demerara sugar for a crunchy topping.

For the muffins

10 oz plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground mixed spice
4 oz sugar
5 fl oz milk
5 fl oz buttermilk
1 egg
2 fl oz vegetable oil
1 tbsp stem ginger syrup
1 small piece stem ginger, very finely chopped
6 oz plums (victoria if you can get them), stoned and chopped

For the topping (optional)
1 tbsp ginger syrup
1 tbsp demerara sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 190C/gas 5
Place paper muffin cases inside a muffin tin

Seive together the flour, baking powder, bicarb, ginger, salt and mixed spice.

Place all the wet ingredients (oil, milk, buttermilk, ginger syrup and egg) in a separate bowl and mix together.

Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the flour, spices and powders then gently mix together until the flour has been incorporated (the mixture should be lumpy).

Gently fold in the chopped fruit and stem ginger.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the tops are spongy and the muffins are golden brown.

Remove from the oven.  If you are making the crunchy topping, this is the time to do it.

Seafood Paella

Paella is the taste of Summer for me.  As soon as the sun is out so is the paella pan. I cooked this one on the hob, using two burners but i...