Friday, 27 September 2013

Elderflower and Strawberry Sorbet

Elderflower and strawberry are a fabulous combination!  This is the perfect recipe for those end-of-season slightly soggy strawberries that we buy because they look tempting, but which don't taste anything like the fragrant sun-warmed summer ones...  Instead of making a proper sugar syrup, I simply used elderflower cordial.  This works well with frozen strawberries too.  The photo below shows the sorbet straight from the freezer - ideally, you should let it defrost a little before serving it so you get an enhanced flavour.

Elderflower and Strawberry Sorbet
Elderflower and Strawberry Sorbet

8oz/220g strawberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, defrost them first)
½ pint/10floz elderflower cordial, undiluted
juice of half a lemon
1 egg white, beaten

Mix together all the ingredients, put into an ice cream maker, and turn into a delicious foamy sorbet.  If your cordial is very sweet and sticky, dilute a little with some water.   

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Cheese Scones

This is meant to be a puddings blog, but these little cheese scones are so good, I simply couldn’t leave them out!   Cheese scones are very quick to make, even quicker to eat.  Whilst staying with my in-laws recently, I whipped up this batch, and had severe difficulty in keeping enough to take a photograph.  This is my mother-in-law’s recipe, and the scones turn out light and well-risen.   It doesn’t use mustard, unlike some recipes, so, if you like your scones with a bit of a kick, add 1tsp mustard to the mixture before the milk.  Gluten free flour works well in scones - just add a little more milk and don't roll them as flat as standard scones. 

Cheese Scones
Cheese Scones

8oz/225g plain flour  
2 ½ level tsps baking powder
½ level tsp salt
2oz/50g butter or margarine at room temperature
4oz/110g strong Cheddar cheese, grated
¼ pint/5floz milk, with extra for the tops

Preheat the oven to 230 deg C. 

In a large bowl, rub the butter into the flour until they look like breadcrumbs.  The best way to do this is to use only your fingertips, as lightly as possible, lifting the mixture as you rub it in to keep it airy.   Add 3oz/80g of the cheese and mix it in lightly.   Add the milk and mix the dough together quickly until it makes a single lump.  

Turn it out onto a floured board and knead it very lightly before patting it (or rolling it) to about ½”/1.5cm thick.   Cut small scones using a plain cutter.   If you dip the cutter in flour, the scones won’t get stuck when you release them.   Try not to pull the cutter, or the scones will be oval.   Warm the baking tray in the oven. 

Put the scones on the warm baking tray, brush with milk and sprinkle on the remaining cheese.   Makes approx 12.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes until well risen and golden.  Eat with butter.   They are good cold, but you won’t ever have any left…

Friday, 20 September 2013

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska was the ultimate 1970s children's treat - the miracle of ice cream inside a hot cooked meringue.... sometimes the simplest pleasures are the best!  A gooey confection of meringue, ice cream, fruit and cake, it  is surprisingly easy to put together and so last-minute, it gives almost immediate gratification.  There are many versions, and you could experiment with chocolate cake and ice cream, but this is easily the nicest.

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska

sponge cake (equivalent to 1 x 8” sandwich tin size)
fresh fruit
red jam/Framboise (omit the alcohol if you are making this for children)
ice cream

3 egg whites
5oz/140g sugar

Preheat the oven to 220deg C.

In an ovenproof dish, put the sponge cake in first, as the base, and cover with the fruit.  If you have time, you can simmer the fruit slightly beforehand, or melt some jam and pour it over.  Add a slug of liqueur.   Cover this in ice cream.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff, add the caster sugar and whisk until the sugar is incorporated into the meringue.  Pile the meringue on top of the fruit/ice cream mound, making sure that the meringue covers every bit of the ice cream so that it doesn’t melt prematurely.

Put into the oven for 3-5 minutes until the meringue is very lightly browned.
Serve immediately.   This will be enough for 6 people, or 4 very greedy ones!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Crunchy Nut Chocolate Crispies

When the hordes disappear from the house, apart from the inevitable abandoned single socks, plates and mugs in strange places and the general air of a beach after a very high tide, I am usually left with the kind of food that I don't usually eat, but can't bear to throw away!   In this case, it's Crunchy Nut cornflakes - you know, those sugar and nut soaked ones most sensible people wouldn't dream of buying.  On the other hand, my TA girlfriends will eat pretty much anything....  so Crunchy Nut Chocolate Crispies are the order of the day.  Next time I'm going to add peanuts or raisins to the mix.

Crunchy Nut Chocolate Crispies

Crunchy Nut Chocolate Crispies

2oz/50g butter
4oz/110g milk or dark chocolate
3 tbsp golden syrup
4oz/100g Crunchy Nut Cornflakes (or equivalent)

Line a tray approx 8” x 8” with baking parchment.   Melt together the first three ingredients, then add the cornflakes.   (You can usually add more than the stated amount).    Mix well to coat the cornflakes, and pour into the tray.   Chill to set the chocolate.   Cut into squares and watch them disappear.  

Friday, 13 September 2013

Apple and Raspberry Double Crust Pie

I love autumn, with its harvest of fruits and berries, with the (occasional) blessing of sunshine;  but the declining temperatures and shorter days make us think of more filling puddings, like fruit pies.   The recipe below is for an apple and raspberry pie, using some of the lovely autumn raspberries you get before the frosts, but blackberry and apple is the usual alternative.   I used the traditional shortcrust pastry, with no egg, and topped it in the way my mother used to, with a dredging of caster sugar.   Mum’s pies were always great, with lovely crisp pastry over the top (except on one memorable occasion when she produced an apple pie from the freezer that turned out to be chicken!).

Apple and Raspberry Double Crust Pie
Apple and Raspberry Double Crust Pie

Shortcrust Pastry
(approx 12oz flour, 6oz butter/margarine, tbsp icing sugar, water to mix)
1lb/450g apples (or thereabouts, depending on the size of your pie dish)
½ lb/220g raspberries or blackberries
small quantity of water
Demerara sugar to taste (approx 3-4oz)
Beaten egg or milk to glaze
caster sugar

Make the pastry, and leave it to rest in the fridge while you prepare the fruit.  I usually partly stew the apples first in a small quantity of water with the Demerara sugar, so they are slightly softened, but not mushy. 

Roll the pastry out and cut a circle slightly larger than the pie dish.  Put that to one side, and ball up the pastry and roll it out again to a size large enough to cover the base of the dish.   Pour in the fruit, and put the uncooked raspberries/blackcurrants on the top.   Wet the edges of the pastry around the rim of the dish.  Gently put the pastry circle over the top, and press the pastry edges together.  Brush the top with the egg glaze, cut an air hole, and stick on any little pastry decorations.  Cook for about 20-25 minutes on 200 deg C until golden brown and bubbling.     Dredge with caster sugar before serving with custard/yoghurt/cream…. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Butterfly Cakes

Butterfly cakes were my sister's first culinary succes, and I promised to put some onto the blog for my young cousins in Kenya, Jessica and Isabella, to get them started!  They are very quick and easy, with the only fiddly bit cutting out the butterfly wings from the tops of the cakes. 

Orange Butterfly Cakes

Orange or Lemon Butterfly Cakes

4oz/50g softened butter or spread
4oz/50g self raising flour
4oz/50g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 level tsp baking powder
the zest of an orange or a lemon

6oz sieved icing sugar (no cheating!)
3oz softened butter
approx ¾ of the juice of an orange or lemon, depending on size

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C, and put twelve cake cases into a muffin/cupcake tin.  Beat together all the ingredients until they are well mixed.  You could do this by hand, or in a food processor, but there should be no lumps!      Drop spoonfuls into each cake case, so that each one has the same amount.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes until they are well risen and golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.   Cut circles out of the tops, leaving a little margin around the edge.  It helps to keep each top with its own base.  Cut each little top in half.

Make up the icing by mixing the butter into the icing sugar and adding the orange juice so that the icing is not stiff, but not sloppy either.   Put a large teaspoonful of icing on each cake, and spread it out so that it almost covers each one.   

Carefully place the two halves of the top so that they look like little butterfly wings, and press them into the icing.   Chill briefly so that the icing sets. 

Friday, 6 September 2013

Nigella's Doughnut French Toast

For my 100th post, I thought I'd go to one of my favourite cooks for inspiration - Nigella Lawson. Nigella's food is amazing, and this French Toast is nothing short of fabulous.... it tastes just like hot jam doughnuts, and is so good I had to make it straight after seeing her making it on TV!  It's great comfort food, although I have made better looking puddings.  Go on, try it... you know you want to.

Nigella's Doughnut French Toast

Nigella’s Doughnut French Toast

2 large eggs
3 floz/60ml milk (Nigella uses full-fat, but I prefer semi-skimmed)
4 tsps vanilla extract
4 medium to thick slices white bread
1 oz/25g butter plus a few drops of vegetable oil
2oz/50g caster sugar
home made jam

In a shallow bowl beat together the eggs, milk and vanilla.   Cut the bread slices into halves, and dip each half into the egg mixture, turning over so they are fully coated and sopping (which is the traditional name for putting bread into liquid!). 

Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan, and fry the bread until it is golden brown.   Put the sugar on a flat plate and dip the toasts into it until they are coated with sugar.  Drop jam onto each piece and eat quickly!  This claims to serve 2. Really?  It's too good to share!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Labor Day Star Gazy Apple Pies

As American as apple pie... and what could be more suitable for Labor Day, but little apple pies with star-cut tops?  Stargazy pie is an old Cornish traditional savoury pie, but this is a homage to the Stars and Stripes.    Although Labor Day is a celebration of work, if you use ready-rolled puff pastry, there is very little work involved!   Especially for my US friends, including the Cryans.

Star Gazy Apple Pie

Star-Gazy Apple Pies

Shortcrust pastry:
8oz/220g plain flour
4oz/100g butter
1 egg, minus 1 tsp of yolk
1 pinch salt

1lb/450g cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut up into pieces
Demerara sugar to taste (approx 4-6oz/100-150g)
2 tbsp water
1tsp cinnamon

1 packet ready-rolled puff pastry, approx 10oz/300g
egg yolk glaze (take a teaspoon of yolk out of the egg above)

Make the pastry above and line six little tartlet tins, putting them in the fridge while you make up the apple filling.   In a pan over a low heat put the apples, sugar and water, and heat until the apples have nearly cooked, but are not quite mushy.   You may need to add more water.    

Heat the oven to 180 deg C and put in a baking tray to warm up – this helps crisp the pastry on the bottom of the tartlet.   Put the apple mixture into the tartlet tins, and then put the puff pastry on the top, cutting a star out of each little top (use one of the tartlet tins to cut out the puff pastry).   Glaze it with the egg yolk, and put all the tartlets on the preheated baking tray, and the left-over stars on baking parchment on another tray.  Bake for 15 minutes or so, until they are golden brown and puffed up.

Serve hot or cold, dredged with caster sugar, plus ice cream, cream or yoghurt.    

75 mouthwatering recipes, including over 30 exclusive ones, are in my new cookbook:  Kate's Puddings Cookbook - out now!