Sunday, 30 March 2014

Pistachio, Almond and Orange Syrup Cake

Pistachio, Almond and Orange Syrup Cake

200g soft brown sugar or caster sugar
150g butter or margarine
3 eggs
100g shelled pistachios, blitzed until course in a food processor
50g ground almonds
200g self raising flour (I used Dove's Gluten Free)
100ml orange juice
Zest of one orange

To glaze
100ml orange juice
100g soft brown sugar

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C/GM4.
2 - In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one until thoroughly combined.
3 - Tip in the nuts and flour and fold in followed by the orange juice and zest.
4 - Grease and line a 23cm spring form tin. Tip in the cake mixture and bake on the middle shelf for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
5 - In  small pan, add the orange juice and sugar and bring to the boil. Poke the cake in several places with a skewer and slowly pour over the glaze until it soaks into the sponge. Sprinkle over a few chopped pistachios and allow to cool in the tin.
6 - Serve in its own or with whipped cream or Greek yoghurt.


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Best Banana and Walnut Loaf Cake

I'm not sure how something so simple to make can taste so delicious, but it does. Serve it warm with butter on and things get even better...

The Best Banana and Walnut Loaf Cake

4 ripe bananas, mashed
200g soft brown sugar
100g soft butter or margarine
1 egg
A pinch of salt
75g walnuts
180g self raising flour (I used Dove's Gluten Free for this one)

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C/GM4.
2 - In a large bowl, tip in the mashed bananas, sugar, butter, egg and salt. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
3 - Fold in the flour and finally the walnuts.
4 - Tip into a greased loaf tin and cook on the middle shelf for 45-50 minutes.


Monday, 24 March 2014

Mackerel and Chive Potato Cake

This one is a bit of an alternative to a traditional fish cake. Rather than peel and boil your potatoes, wait for them to steam and cool, mash then mix with fish, you simply grate, mix and slow fry, a bit like a huge rosti. It all becomes so much easier and just as delicious.

Experiment with the fish, even mix in some leftover meat. Either way, it makes for a lovely side dish or a main course in its own right, served with a green salad. Simple, unfussy and frugal.

Mackerel and Chive Potato Cake
Feeds 3-4

3-4 medium potatoes
1 onion
A handful of fresh chopped chives
A couple of fillets of smoked mackerel
1 egg
A tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper
A little grated Cheddar cheese
2 tbsp olive oil

1 - In a large mixing bowl, grate the potatoes and onion. Break up the fish and add to the potato and onion.
2 - Add the chives, egg, flour and seasoning and with your hands, scrunch together until well mixed.
3 - In a large frying pan, add the olive oil and heat up. Spread the mixture around and flatten with your hand to form one large 'cake'. Cook on a low hob for 10 minutes. Pre-heat your grill to a medium setting.
4 - Spread over the grated cheese then place under the grill. Cook for a further 10 minutes, ensuring that it is not catching. You need to cook slowly otherwise the potato will be raw.
5 - Once golden and crispy, cut into wedges and serve.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Chocolate, Whisky and Hazelnut Mousse

The best thing about a mousse is that if you are cooking for loads of people, you can make lots, tip it into some nice glasses and after a few hours chilling, you will be guaranteed a whole load of 'oohs' and 'aahs' from your mates. Great! This one is a bit of an adult mousse, one that I had to hide from my daughter (sorry Cerys). With a punch of whisky, not too much sweetness and a crunch of roast hazelnut, it just takes that already impressive blend of airy chocolate and cream into another dimension. An absolute doddle of a dessert, give it a go choc lovers.

Chocolate, Whisky and Hazelnut Mousse
Makes 4

300ml double cream
200g 70% proof chocolate
50g soft brown sugar
2 eggs, separated
2 tbsp whisky
2 handfuls of hazelnuts, toasted in a dry pan and roughly chopped

1 - Heat up the double cream in a thick bottomed pan along with 1 handful of the hazelnuts. Break up the chocolate and add to the cream along with the sugar. Stir until completely dissolved then pour through a sieve into a separate bowl.
2 - Allow to cool slightly. Stir in the whisky and egg yolks thoroughly.
3 - Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Beat in roughly one third of the egg whites, and then gently fold in the remaining.
4 - Tip into your glass of choice. Cover with foil or shrink-wrap and allow to set in the fridge for at least 2 hours. They will keep for a couple of days.
5 - When ready to serve, sprinkle with a few of the chopped roasted hazelnuts.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Wild Mushroom and Thyme Soup with Black Bream


Wild Mushroom and Thyme Soup with Black Bream
Serves 4

1kg wild mushrooms, either single variety or mixed
4 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 whole clove of garlic, unpeeled
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 litre vegetable stock
150ml single cream or crème fraiche
2 fillets of black bream
Salt and pepper

1 – Roughly chop up the mushrooms. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the mushrooms, onion, garlic clove, thyme and a good grinding of fresh black pepper. Cook off until the water has evaporated and the mushrooms are beginning to caramelise.
2 – Pour in the stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the garlic clove.
3 – Pour into a blender and puree until you have a smooth consistency.
4 – Return to a clean pan and pour in the cream or crème fraiche. Bring to the simmer and stir thoroughly. Taste for seasoning.
5 – Slice the fillets into 2 pieces. Season. Heat up a little olive oil in a pan and add the fish skin side down. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the skin is golden. Turn and cook for a further minute. Place a piece of fish into the soup and serve.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Ham Hock, Borlotti Bean and Kale Soup

Ham Hock, Borlotti Bean and Kale Soup
Feeds 4

For the ham and stock
1 ham hock
1 carrot
1 onion
A few black peppercorns
2 or 3 bay leaves

3 large floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
A good pinch of saffron
A pinch of cayenne pepper
750ml of ham stock
Ham from your cooked hock
250g of cooked borlotti beans
A few handfuls of sliced kale

1 - To cook your ham and make stock, put all of the ham and stock ingredients into a pot. Cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 2-2 and a half hours. The meat will be cooked when it falls from the bone.
2 - Remove the ham and leave to cool. Remove the fat and then peel off the chunks of delicious, gelatinous ham.
3 - Pour the stock through a sieve and reserve. You can freeze what you don't use.
4 - To make the soup, heat up the oil in a pan. Add the onion, celery, carrot and potato and cook for 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cayenne and saffron and stir for 1 minute.
5 - Pour in the stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrot and potato have softened.
6 - Add the beans and kale. Simmer for a further 10 minutes.
7 - Finally, stir in the ham and heat through. Taste for seasoning then serve in large bowls with good, crusty bread.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Herbed Chicken with Roasted Roots and Borlotti Beans


Herbed Chicken with Roasted Roots and Borlotti Beans
Serves 4

For the chicken

4 chicken breasts, fillets removed
2 egg whites
75g Oat Bran or breadcrumbs
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp chopped fresh or dried thyme
25g Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
Olive oil spray

For the vegetables
2 beetroot, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 turnips, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
4 carrots, peeled and sliced thick
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon
1 tbsp caraway seeds
2 tbsp chopped mint
2 tomatoes, diced
Salt and pepper

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 200C/GM6. Place all of the chopped vegetables into a baking tray, scatter over the caraway seeds, season with salt and pepper, drizzle over the oil and squeeze on the lemon. Mix it all together and roast on the middle shelf for 30 minutes, checking now and again that it isn’t starting to burn.
2 – Put the chicken breast between a large slice of non-stick baking paper. With a rolling pin, flatten the breasts slightly.
3 – Put the egg whites into a bowl. In another bowl, mix together the Oat Bran or breadcrumbs, lemon zest, thyme, Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.
4 – Dip the chicken breasts into the egg white, shaking off any excess, then cover liberally in the oat bran mixture. Put onto a non-stick baking tray, spray lightly with olive oil spray then bake on a high shelf for 20 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
5 – Take out the roasted vegetables and tip in the tomatoes, beans and mint. Season and mix together.
6 – Serve the chicken breasts sliced on top of a pile of roast vegetables and beans with a side serving of pasta tomato sauce blended until smooth and heated through.