Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Prawn Noodle Soup

Here's a quick and easy lunch time soup with fragrant chinese flavours.

Serves 4

1 onion, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
1 tbsp rape seed oil
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
100g brown rice noodles
1 star anise
1 litre fish or chicken stock
12 raw tiger prawns
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the rape seed oil in a heavy based pan, add the onion and cook until softened then add the raw prawns and stir fry until the prawns are pink, remove them from the pan and set aside.

Add the stock, star anise, fish sauce and soy sauce to the pan, bring to the boil then add the noodles, simmer with a lid on for 3-4 minutes, remove the star anise, then, using a large spoon stir the soup to create a swirling motion and drizzle in the beaten egg.  When the egg is cooked and floats to the top, add the sesame oil and the peeled prawns.  Test the seasoning and add if necessary.

Serve in warmed bowls.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Savoury Muffins with Spinach and Nutmeg

Muffins are so versatile, you can experiment with the ingredients and flavours by using fruit, spices, cheese and herbs.  I love savoury muffins for breakfast with a poached egg and they are also good with tomato soup, especially muffins containing chopped Basil.


Makes 8 large muffins

250g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
70g parmesan cheese, finely grated
100g spinach, cooked and left to cool on kitchen paper
1 egg
240ml milk
90ml rape seed or vegetable oil

Pre-heat the oven to 190C

Sift the flour, salt, nutmeg and baking powder into a bowl.  Add the sugar and 2/3 of the cheese and stir well.

Chop the spinach finely then add it to the bowl.

Whisk together the oil, egg and milk and pour on top of the dry ingredients.  Stir gently with a metal spoon to combine the ingredients, the mixture should be lumpy but with no traces of dry flour.

Place 8 large muffin cases inside a muffin pan, spoon in the mixture then sprinkle the rest of the cheese over.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Lemon Meringue Cup Cakes

These zesty little cup cakes can be eaten warm with a drizzle of cream or cold with a nice cup of tea.  Lots of zing from the home-made lemon curd and the lemon sponge then the dreamy meringue topping. 

 Is the kettle on????

For the sponge

4 oz self-raising flour
4 oz caster sugar
2 large eggs
4 oz unsalted butter, softened
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice

Pre-heat the oven to 180C

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk with a hand-held electric mixer until pale and fluffy.

Place 12 large muffin cases into a muffin tin (this will help them keep their shape) put 1 dessertspoon of the mixture into each cake case and bake for 10-12 minutes until risen and golden.

For the lemon curd
Zest and juice of 4 lemons
4 large eggs
12 oz caster sugar
8 oz butter
2 tsp cornflour

Beat the eggs in a bowl then add the rest of the ingredients.

Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk until the lemon curd thickens.
Remove from the heat and whisk again for 1 minute. leave to cool.

For the meringue topping

3 large eggs, whites only
6 tbsp caster sugar

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks the add 1 tbsp of the sugar at a time whisking after each addition until the mixture is stiff and glossy.  Place the mixture in an icing bag fitted with a large nozzle.

Put 2 tsp of lemon curd on top of each cup cake then pipe on the meringue.

Brown the meringue with a kitchen blowtorch or place briefly under a pre-heated grill set at high.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Butternut Squash and Cheese Ravioli with Herb Oil and crispy Pancetta

Fresh pasta is a lot easier to make than you may think.  I didn't buy special flour but used ordinary plain flour. Rolling the pasta as thin as you can is one of the secrets to good pasta.  I have a pasta roller but for ravioli I prefer using a rolling pin, cutting out rounds with a small biscuit cutter then rolling each round until it is paper thin.  After filling and making sure there is no air trapped in the finished ravioli, I use the cutter to neaten it up.  Use any fresh herbs for the herb oil, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil and Sage all go very well.  I used Marjoram as it is abundant in the garden now and has a lovely flavour which just seems to go with Italian food.

For the pasta
240g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
50ml water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Sieve the flour and salt and make a well in the middle.  Break eggs in the centre, followed by the water and olive oil.

Mix using your hands until you have a soft dough then knead for 5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.

Herb oil
Warm 100 ml extra virgin olive oil very gently in a saucepan add 1 small handful fresh herbs (I used Marjoram) and let it infuse for 15 minutes over a very low heat, the herbs should not be cooking.  Switch off the heat and let it stand for a while to strengthen the flavour.

For the filling
1.5 kg butternut squash, halved, de-seeded and peeled, cut into chunks
1 shallot, finely sliced 
Marjoram from the oil, finely chopped
50g parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Steam the squash and shallot until the squash is tender.  Remove from the heat and add to a large bowl.
Mash the squash then stir in the cheese until it has melted.  Add the Marjoram and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

For the crispy Pancetta cut into small pieces and using a hot dry frying pan cook until crispy.

Roll the pasta dough until very thin then cut out rounds.  dampen the edges of one side then fill with the squash mixture, press down the edges making sure there is no trapped air , this will cause the ravioli to split during cooking.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the ravioli 6 at a time for 3-4 minutes, set aside to keep warm until they are all cooked.

Serve with crusty bread, in warm bowls with a drizzle of herb oil and top with some crispy Pancetta.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Rhubarb and Orange Meringue Pie

Rhubarb is abundant in my garden at the moment, so jam, chutney, sauces, crumbles and pies aside I am always looking for new recipes.  This is adapted from one of Delia's recipes and as always with Delia, it's delicious, the rhubarb is still tangy and the zesty orange flavour goes so well with it.

For the pastry

1 1/2 oz butter
1 1/2 oz white cooking fat
6 oz plain flour

Rub the fats into the flour then add a little cold water to form a firm dough.  Rest the dough in the fridge after covering with cling film.

For the filling

1lb 8oz rhubarb, washed and cut into chunks
3 oz golden caster sugar
Zest and juice of 3 oranges
3 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp stem ginger syrup
3 egg yolks

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and line a 22cm flan tin, prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork.

place the rhubarb in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with the orange zest then the sugar.  Place the orange juice in a small saucepan.

Bake the pastry case for 25 minutes on the top shelf of the oven until mid-brown.  At the same time, cook the rhubarb on the bottom shelf until tender (around 25-30 minutes)  Remove both from the oven and set aside.

Mix the cornflour to a paste with a little of the orange juice and warm the rest until almost simmering.  Remove from the heat and whisk into the cornflour paste, return to the pan and heat until very thick, whisking continuously.  Strain the rhubarb juice into a jug and stir in the ginger syrup, add to the cornflour mixture along with the egg yolks, beat together then fold into the rhubarb.

For the meringue
3 egg whites
6 oz golden caster sugar

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they form soft peaks, add the sugar 1 tbsp at a time beating between each addition until stiff and glossy.

Spoon the rhubarb mixture into the pastry case, cover with the meringue mix making sure the edges are sealed, then place in the oven until the meringue is golden brown.

Leave to cool for a couple of hours then serve with whipped cream.


Thursday, 5 May 2011

Goats Cheese baked with hazelnuts and maple syrup on a savoury pancake

Cheese with something fruity is a marriage made in heaven.  Chutney, relish or just some redcurrant jelly is what I would normally have with goats cheese, however, this experiment started when I ran out of walnuts to bake with the cheese, I toasted hazelnuts then decided to try a drizzle of warm maple syrup and that is what gave me the idea for savoury pancakes.  The result was delicious.

For the pancakes
Serves 4 people for a starter or
2 for lunch

3 oz SR flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 large egg
milk to mix to a thick batter
A little oil
Mix all the ingredients together to a thick batter.  Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan and spoon in the mixture 1 tbsp for each pancake, cook for 1 minute each side until golden brown, keep them warm.

Cut 4 thick slices from a goats cheese log.  Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, place the in a towel and rub to remove the skin.  Roughly chop the hazelnuts and place some on top of the slices of cheese, (save some to sprinkle over).   Lightly press them down until they stick.  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170C for 10 minutes.

Warm the maple syrup gently over a low heat.

Place slices of goats cheese on the pancakes, drizzle with warm syrup and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.

Serve warm.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Haggis Bon Bons with smoked bacon and poached egg

This is a great dish for breakfast with ducks or hens egg or a starter with quails eggs.  I used smoked streaky bacon for the breakfast dish but if you are making a starter it would be delicious with grilled pancetta.

For the haggis bon bons

6 oz haggis (use Macsweens if you can get it) or most supermarkets sell Grant's tinned haggis (both are very good)
2 slices brown seeded bread, made into crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Rape seed oil for frying

Form the haggis into small balls around the size of a walnut, lightly season the breadcrumbs.

Dip the haggis balls first into the beaten egg then into the breadcrumbs completely coating them.

Heat the oil over a med heat until a few breadcrumbs sizzle and float, add the haggis balls to the pan and fry for 3-4 minutes until crisp and golden.

Serve with grilled streaky bacon and top with a poached egg.

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...