Supper for an Indian Summer - gnocchi with garlicky leeks & mint

Thursday, 29 September 2011

I can't actually believe how stiflingly hot it is in London at the moment. My kitchen is about 100C, even with the windows wide open. Not that I'm complaining, it's just not what I normally expect when October's round the corner.

When it's that hot, something Autumnal and wholesome like a partridge pie (which was the original plan), really won't cut it - something lighter (mint, gnocchi, peas and pan-fried garlicky leeks, topped with Parmesan) is much more likely to hit the mark...

Rose and raspberry sorbet

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

We seem to be having an Indian summer at the moment and, with the warm weather apparently set to continue until the weekend, I thought I could get away with a quick sorbet test before the Winter truly sets in...

This crimson pink ice uses fresh raspberries which, combined with the essence of rosewater, results in a lovely light fruity and flowery concoction. It's also really easy to make, which is an added bonus.

Recipe follows below...

For the sorbet syrup:
30g liquid glucose
100g white sugar
175ml water 

For the sorbet:
500g raspberries (frozen is fine)
2 tbsp rose water
200g sorbet syrup
Juice of 1 large lemon 

To make the sorbet syrup, add the liquid glucose, sugar and water to a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes then leave to cool. 

To make the sorbet, simply add the raspberries and sorbet syrup to a pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve to remove the seeds. Retain 1 dessert spoon of the seeds and add back to the sorbet mix. Add the juice of the lemon and the rose water, put into a large freezer-proof box and put into the freezer (or into an ice cream maker if you have one). 

If you don't have an ice cream maker, take the sorbet out for 5 minutes before serving to soften.

Leiths day one - squid , chorizo and orange & almond cake

Monday, 26 September 2011

Tonight was day one of a cookery course I signed up to at Leiths. On the menu was a warm salad of pan fried squid and chorizo with chickpeas, lemon and rocket.

We were taught how to prepare the squid (and the art of removing its innards without puncturing the ink sac) and how to pan fry it to perfection (only turn it once and cook for 3 minutes max).

 Next up was an orange and almond cake... made with rice flour, semolina and orange pulp (heated for 10 minutes and then blitzed in a blender). The cakes were left to cool and then an orange and cointreau syrup added to the top. The result is a deliciously buttery, moist cake that I have just devoured.

Next Monday's update... cerviche of sea bass, and greek parsley pasta with wild mushrooms, spinach and warm red salsa.

Scotch Eggs

Everyone loves a scotch egg, which is why I am planning on making them for my first market stall (less than 2 weeks to go!)

I made a batch at the weekend to serve to my guinea pigs (aka my husband and neighbours) and they received rave reviews. They were referred to as 'dinosaur eggs' though so I will be making slightly smaller versions for the market

These are plain versions but I will be making 'scotch eggs with a twist' too - with crushed fennel seeds and chilli.

Come down and see me at South Lambeth Market on the 8th October if you fancy a taste!

Spiced moroccan lamb tart with pomegranate, feta and mint

Sunday, 25 September 2011

As part of my test runs for South Lambeth Market (in 2 weeks!!), I 've been practicing making a variety of different savoury tarts (and testing them on my neighbours/ husband/ whoever else I can find to be my guinea pigs). 

The idea for this particular tart is to lightly spice the lamb with the flavours of Morocco - cinnamon, ground coriander, cumin and the warmth of chilies.  This, combined with the saltiness of the feta, the sweetness of the pomegranate and the coolness of the mint seem to work really well together... well, that's what my guinea pigs said... recipe follows below

500g lamb mince 
1 large red onion, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 large cloves of garlic
A splash of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon chili powder (hot)
1 teaspoon ground coriander (dried)
Small piece of feta cheese, crumbled
Half a pomegranate, seeds removed
Small bunch of mint, chopped

Make your pastry (see recipe here) and put in the fridge. Meanwhile, fry the red onion slowly in olive oil until it starts to turn golden brown. Add the cumin seeds and fry for a further 5 minutes. Add the splash of balsamic and stir until it reduces and turns the onion dark and sticky. Remove onions from the pan and set to the side. 

Add the lamb mince to the pan and brown until no pink remains. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 - 3 minutes. 

Take your pastry out of the fridge and roll out thinly. Line a 25cm tart tin with pastry and blind bake in an oven preheated to 180C for 10 minutes. 

Remove the greaseproof paper and return the tart base to the oven, cooking for a further 10 minutes until golden brown. 

Add the lamb mixture to the tart tin, taking care to press the lamb down tightly (this will help it to stick together when you cut it). Add the crumbled feta on top and bake for a further 10 minutes. 

Leave the tart to cool and then add the pomegranate seeds and chopped mint. Serve with a cool yoghurt dressing (I use natural yoghurt mixed with mint sauce but you could use cucumber and chopped mint)

The art of the perfect shortcrust

Pastry was always something that bemused me, in fact it bemused me right up until a masterclass my Mum gave me a few weeks ago.

Apparently the secret is all in not 'over working' it. This is something you hear regularly, in all cooking and baking books- but what does that actually mean?

Well, I can reveal the art of the perfect shortcrust pastry is down to cold hands, as little water as possible (you'd be surprised how little you need to bring it together) and, rather than butter (shock horror), a mixture of margarine and vegetable shortening.

The not overworking it' bit basically translates as 'as little handling as humanly possible'. This means - and this is a good tip from my Mum - using a knife to create your breadcrumbs of flour and fat, getting your hands really cold by running under cold water, adding only a tiny amount of water (less than you think it needs), and then bringing it all together as quickly as possible - with no kneading. So the only time your hands touch the pastry are when you are bringing it together.

The recipe I use (from Delia, with extra tips from my Mum!) is as follows...

4 oz plain flour
1 oz margarine (I use Stork)
1 oz vegetable shortening (I use Trex)
2 tablespoons of water

Sift the flour ino a large bowl. Add the fat. Using a table knife, cut the fat into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. At this stage, wash your hands under very cold water and dry them. Then add the water to the flour and fat mix, mixing with the spoon. Squash it all togetger very quiky with your hands and wrap in cling film.

Leave in the fridge for at least half an hour before rolling out and using.

I love using this pastry in traditional jam tarts - just like we used to make with my Mum when we were small. I prefer raspberry jam but you can use whichever you prefer (or have lying around). Simply roll out your pastry, cut into small discs and place the discs into greased mince pie tins. Add a dollop of jam and whack in the oven for around 12 minutes.

It's probably advisable to wait for a few minutes before devouring as there is danger of mouth-scalding with boiling sugar.

Quick pear pudding

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

I've been meaning to use my new le creuset cocottes for a while and was planning to make some melt in the middle chocolate puddings tonight. However, that seemed a little bit too much like hard work for a Wednesday evening (I will be making them soon though so watch this space). 

Instead, given pear season is in full flow and I have a fridge full, I made a quick and easy baked pear pudding - it takes about 5 minutes to assemble and 15 minutes to cook and the results make you feel like you've had a proper dessert.

These pears are baked with a sweet green ginger wine (I use Stones), a bit of butter plus sugar and cinnamon and nothing else... simple!

The combination of the cinnamon, sugar and butter creates a gently spiced pear-y caramel. Serve with cream of ice cream (I didn't have any but they were pretty great as they were, just out of the oven.

Recipe follows below...

Serves two:
  • 2 ripe pears
  • 6 small cubes of butter (about 1cm) 
  • 2 tablespoons of unrefined golden granulated sugar (I prefer it to refined white cane sugar)
  • 1 table spoon green ginger wine (optional)
  • Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon 
Cut the bottom off both pears (this helps them to stand up in the dish) and peel, leaving the stalk for decoration.  Place the pears in individual dishes (you can use ramekins or any oven proof dish if you don't have cocottes) and pour over the ginger wine. 

Sprinkle liberally with the sugar and dot the butter around the base of each pear. Dust with cinnamon and bake at 220C for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the pears are soft (this will vary depending on how big your pears are!)

Chocolate heaven at Paul A Young's

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

I took a lunchtime wander down Wardour Street today to check out the hype surrounding Paul A Young's limited edition Damson Vodka truffles (made with Sipsmith's spirit).

When I arrived there were just 7 chocolates left.. and they looked divine. I slowly munched my way round the shop, stopping to test out the chocolate brownies and the 70% Madagascan dark chocolate.

The flavour combinations Paul uses are incredible - using savoury including rosemary, tarragon, goats cheese and even marmite (!) to enhance the chocolate flavour. The white chocolate and rosemary chocolates look like marbles - too good to eat (see pics below) and, although I'm not entirely sure about  the marmite creation, it does look really beautiful, with a dusting of shimmering gold powder on top.

Sipsmith's Damson Vodka truffles

Chocolate lover's heaven

Goat's cheese, rosemary and lemon chocolates and orange and tarragon

White chocolate and rosemary - they look just like marbles!

I love the gold leaf on these

Toad in the hole

Monday, 19 September 2011

As the evenings are getting colder and it's starting to get dark outside before I leave the office, my weekday dinners are getting ever more homely and comforting. Tonight's supper was a classic toad in the hole (but spiced up a little with the addition of port and smoked garlic to my caramelised onion gravy).

Recipe follows below...

Serves 3 (or 2 greedy people like me and my husband)

  • 6 good quality sausages
  • 75g plain flour
  • 75ml milk
  • 55ml water
  • 1 large egg
  • tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 red onions 
Preheat the oven to 220C. Make the batter by sifting the four into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the egg. Combine the egg and flour then add the liquid slowly, beating steadily with a balloon whisk.

cut the red onions into wedges and place in a baking tin with the sausages (prick the sausages all over to help release the fat). Cook for 10 minutes then add the oil. Cook for a further 5 minutes until the oil is hot and smoking. 

Add the batter and bake for 30 minutes until the batter is golden brown. 

Serve with mash, peas and onion gravy!

Smokey garlic and butter bean bites

Sunday, 18 September 2011

A Sunday evening, just before the new series of Spooks is about to start, calls for something quick, tasty, and easy to eat in front of the TV. One of my recent impulse purchases from Borough Market was a bulb of smoked garlic so I created bite-sized morsels of smokey garlic-infused butter bean and paprika crostina with lime juice - easy to crunch with eyes glued to the latest MI5 drama.

Recipe follows...

Serves 2 as a light supper but can serve 6 - 8 for pre-dinner canapes
  • 8 large cloves of smoked garlic
  • 1 tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
  • pinch of smoked paprika to garnish
Heat the oven to 150C and cook the garlic (unpeeled) for half an hour, until soft.Heat the oil in a saucepan with the butter beans and add the garlic - you can simply squeeze the garlic out of the cloves into the butterbean mixture. Add the juice of half the lime and beat to mash the butter beans. 

I like to leave the butter beans with some texture so you don't need to mash the mixture for too long. Spoon the mixture onto crostini (simply bake thin slices of french bread in the oven until crisp), top with a pinch of smoked paprika and a squeeze of lime juice to serve. 

Little Miss Moffat's lemon curd!

There are a few different recipes for lemon curd - some involving adding corn flour to thicken, some using just egg yolks and others that call for heating the water with the lemon rind before adding to the sugar and butter mix and then adding whole eggs.

The recipe I've used this time round is from The River Cottage preserves handbook by Pam Corbin. The recipe calls for 450g granulated sugar which I do think is rather too much - I like my lemon curd as tart and lemony as possible. I have therefore changed the recipe slightly as do think this gives the curd a stronger lemon flavour (recipe follows below).

Last time I was at Borough Market I bought some Beetroot powder from Spice Mountain (one of my obsessions is sourcing unusual hebs and spices). I thought this could make a really eyecatching addition to my lemon curd so decided to add a teaspoon to some leftover mixture. Did you know that one teaspoon of dried beetroot powder has the same amount of nutrients as a whole beet?!

The result was a really vivid pink lemon that maintained the lemony flavour - the beetroot adds a slightly earthy note but doesnt take away from the tanginess. This would be great in cakes, or used as the base for a stunning lemon merringue pie.

Making this again, I would follow the below (I've added more lemon zest, more water, more lemon juice and less sugar):

(Makes 4 x225g jars)
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 5 lemons (you need 250ml juice)
  • 100ml water
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 400g granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, beaten (you need 200ml egg) 
In a bain marie, heat the water, lemon zest and juice, butter and sugar until hot and glossy and the sugar has melted. Pour in the beaten eggs and whisk  with a balloon whisk (if your mixture separates when you add the egg, it's because it's too hot - use a sugar thermometer and make sure you don't heat above 60C). 

Once the egg is added, continue to mix until it has thickened - about 10 minutes. Remember, the mixture will thicken further once cooled so don't worry if it still seems rather thin. Transfer into sterilised jars while the curd is still hot (preferably into warm jars). Use within 4 weeks and keep in the fridge once opened.

South Lambeth Market

Saturday, 17 September 2011

I took a trip to my new local market today... South Lambeth Market at the Cavendish Arms in South West London (SW8). Today was the first day of trading and I was one of the first 20 through the doors (I was keen, I knew there were freebies going) so I got a lovely printed bag for my troubles.

Lots of local traders were present - from stall holders offering cakes and loose leaf tea, to those with plants or vintage furniture to sell.

I got myself an amazing brownie from the lovely Blueberry Hill Cakes (see pics below of their other sweet treats) plus a pot of purple basil from the plant stall (to add to my ever growing basil collection).

Next market will be on Saturday 8th October - it's well worth a visit.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Hubby and I were in Padstow the week before last, on the way down to Penzance (via North Devon!) and got a bite to eat at Rick Stein's cafe (not the expensive posh one on the harbour front but the smaller, more informal place on Middle Street).

Expecting a hefty bill we were pleasantly surprised to see food reasonably priced.. and what great food it was. I opted for the mussels (a la mariniere) with chips (of course) while Hubby went for the seabass.... a whole one, cooked with fennel and served with the most delicious aniseedy tartare sauce. Our bill came to around £20... not bad for a celebrity restaurant. Definitely worth a visit - they don't take bookings either which is great if you are, like us, rather unorganised.

 As Rick Stein seems to own half of Padstow, he's also got a rather nice patisserie, near the harbour front that does a roaring trade in pasties. The cakes didn't look half bad either...

Cowslip Cafe, Launceston

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Last week I visited my Cornish Grandma in Launceston... she took us to the most lovely cafe, based at the Cowslip Workshop. Traditional, homely fare was served in pretty china in a converted barn. Great quiche and an even better garden to wander through afterwards.
While we're on the subject of Cornwall, we managed to get one of the last days of true Summer weather when we were there at the beginning of September - check out these pics of Sennen near Penzance... the water was so blue it could have been the med!

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