Monday, 31 May 2010
Normally, I’m a very strict recipe follower but this time I made a couple of changes. I used a couple of teaspoonfuls of vanilla paste to flavour, as shown below, because it offers a much richer flavour than vanilla extract but is much less expensive than vanilla pods! Also, I made this pannacotta in a slightly unorthodox way. Instead of boiling the cream mixture over the stove – I microwaved the mixture in a Pyrex jug! Although unusual, this makes the whole process SO much easier and also makes it a one pot pud, minimising washing up. In my hating days, I always visualised pannacotta turned out onto a big plate, but I served these in the glassed for a pretty effect. The glaze on the strawberries was simply done by tossing the sliced strawberries in quince jelly before placing them on the chilled pannacottas, making them shine and giving a bit of extra honey flavour. And after all of that, they were enjoyed happily by the family and we were left wishing we hadn’t halved the recipe! You can find it here and I hope you enjoy making something you once disliked this week!
Sunday, 23 May 2010
Sunday, 16 May 2010
As summer creeps back in, my thoughts inevitably turn to picnics. As soon as we have three consecutive days of strong sunshine, out come the summer dresses and meet-ups in the parks. Picnics vary from just sunbathing on the common with a friend, to a full blown Marks and Spencer’s feast…A picnic from last summer…
So as you can easily tell, I love picnics. Relaxing, laughing, tanning, eating – what’s better? But nowadays my friends and I need our money spent elsewhere, so its time to make our own picnic food. Next time, I’ll be bringing these pies. Move over sandwiches, these are so much better. A tiny bit of a faff to make, but each step is extremely simple and the recipe works so that whilst something is chilling, something else needs grating, whilst something is cooking, something else needs chopping. Always busy! The potato filling for these pies (diced potato, spring onion and a myriad of different cheeses) is delicious and, happily, the recipe makes much more than you will be able to make pies from but is just as lovely on its own as simple potato filling. But back to the pies… Sturdy and savoury (always a shocker around here!) the pies are perfect picnic food. Having said that, I ate a pie for three meals over two days just at home, as the weather proves itself not quite ready for picnics. I think these are best warm – melty cheese, hot pastry – but a treat anywhere. I did really like Nigella’s recipe but if I made it again would make a few minor changes – more cheese, cut the potato smaller, few more herbs – basic stuff. Otherwise, enjoy the summer picnic goodness!
Sunday, 9 May 2010
I love sandwich cookies. My sister states that they are useless but I strongly disagree. Instead of taking one cookie, you get two at once. It gives you a cheeky chance to eat far more cookies than it looks like plus you get the bonus of a silky sweet filling the middle. What’s not to love?I recently made some disappointing ginger cookies using a sub-standard recipe. They turned out strangely smooth and powdery, lacking in flavour. But I hate it when something goes wrong so was determined to improve on the situation. Thankfully, these cookies provided the perfect solution. They’re chewy and textured from the oats and chunky marmalade, softened only slightly from the creamy filling speckled with stem ginger. A proper mouthful, a proper cookie, properly delicious. If I were to make these again, I would further enhance their chunky, chewy goodness – adding sultanas or coconut. However they were scrumptious as they were, and the absence of those other flavours let the ginger shine through. The buttercream was unusual to me, as it had cream added to the regular butter and icing sugar. This definitely showed in the end result and was good for added silky smoothness to finish off all that crunch of cookie. I love stem ginger, and the spiciness of the ginger chunks in the icing were perfect sparks of flavour. The final good thing about these cookies – a totally simple recipe. Enjoy!
Marmalade and Ginger Cream Cookies, from Sainsbury’s Magazine
Makes about 14
Ingredients: 50g soft unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
50g light brown soft sugar
finely grated zest of one orange
1 large egg yolk
50g thick-cut marmalade
50g plain flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g rolled oats
For the ginger cream filling: 250g icing sugar, sifted
75ml double cream
50g soft unsalted butter
75g stem ginger in syrup, drained and shredded
1. Preheat the oven to 170’C/fan 150’C, gas 3. Beat the butter, caster sugar, brown sugar, orange zest and egg yolk until smooth then beat in the marmalade. Mix in the flour and bicarbonate of soda, then stir in the oats.
2. Place rounded teaspoon-sized balls of dough onto three lined baking sheets, spaced 5cm apart, then flatten slightly. Bake for 12-15minutes until just coloured at the edges. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack until cold.
3. Beat the icing sugar, cream and butter until smooth then stir in the stem ginger. With a knife, spread a generous amount on the base of a biscuit then stick the bottom half of another biscuit to form a sandwich. Repeat with all biscuits.
Monday, 3 May 2010
The English May Bank Holiday has just been and, true to form, it rained. Although the day is truly meant to symbolise the coming of summer, the day just caused cravings for the sticky winter food I was just beginning to leave behind. So with my Granny coming for the day the first idea was to make a simple cake. But having just made the carrot cake I really wanted to welcome summer by making something light, zingy, fresh and bright. Which is just what I got from these delectable little tarts. These are so simple because they are basically just an assembly job. You take a little shortbread cup…Add a dollop of whipped cream… Spoon on some lemon curd… Swirl the two together with a thin cake skewer…Top with slices of fresh strawberry!A bit of a fiddle to eat but totally gorgeous. The pastry was crumbly, the cream silky soft, the lemon curd sharp and the strawberries sweet. Perfect combination and perfect eaten warm in the sun. I used a Mary Berry recipe, but there’s not much too it really! The only true baking is the shortbread…
- 100g plain flour
- 50g caster sugar
- 100g butter
- 50g semolina or cornflour
1. Set the oven to 160C/gas 2.
2. Place all the ingredients together in a food processor and whizz until the mixture forms a smooth dough (if preferred this can be done by hand in a bowl using soft butter).
3. Roll out the dough to 5mm thickness and cut circles out with a cutter. Place gently in a bun tin. 4. Prick gently over the bottom with a fork. Bake for 10-15 minutes until firm and golden.
5. Set aside to cool a little and slide out of tin onto a wire rack to cool before filling. Only fill when you are ready to eat!