Friday, 28 March 2014

Apple and Calvados Soufflé

At this time of year, I'm using up the last of my home grown apples, but crumble palls after a while....  Back to the books!   My all-time inspiration, Claire MacDonald, has come up trumps with this delicious soufflé.   Don't panic, it is very well-behaved, and, providing you get it all ready apart from the egg whites, you can time it to perfection (nothing is sadder than a sinking soufflé), as there is a 45-40 minute time slot between putting it into the oven and receiving the congratulations of your appreciative family!  OK, I paraphrase slightly, but you get the idea....    The photo below doesn't really do it justice, but speed was of the essence.

Apple and Calvados Soufflé
 Apple and Calvados Soufflé

Apple base layer:
6 dessert apples, peeled and sliced
3oz/75g butter
4oz/110g soft brown sugar

Soufflé top layer:
2oz/50g butter
2oz/50g flour
¾ pint/450ml milk
¼ pint/150ml Calvados or apple brandy
2oz/50g caster sugar
5 eggs, separated

Butter a 3 pint/2l soufflé dish and dust it with caster sugar.   Make the apple base by melting the butter and sugar together, stirring until they have dissolved, then boiling for 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the apples and cook for 5 minutes, before pouring into the dish.   Heat the oven to 200 deg C. 

Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour until there are no lumps before adding the milk slowly.  I use a small whisk to do this, which seems to eliminate the lumps better than a wooden spoon.   Bring the sauce to the boil to thicken, then take it off the heat and stir in the Calvados, the sugar and the yolks, one at a time.  

Whisk the egg whites until firm and fold into the mixture using a metal spoon.   When it is reasonably well mixed, ie, not too many egg white islands, pour over the apple base. 

Cook for about 35-40 minutes until it is risen and browned.   Serve immediately, dusted with icing sugar. 

You can make most of this in advance, just up to the stage of whisking the egg whites.  

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Classic Vanilla Fudge

Fudge comes in many forms, but the ultimate has to be the lovely crisp home made fudge which breaks with a snap and melts in the mouth.   My mother's recipe is the one I've followed all my life, sometimes adding new ingredients, but generally coming back to the original.   For Mothering Sunday I made a special batch with some double cream added - it is delicious!  Chocolate is the traditional alternative, but vanilla, flavoured with real vanilla extract is still my favourite.   The recipe below is double quantity, as it really is pointless making anything less than a good sized tin of it...  I prefer to make slightly flatter squares in a larger tin.   A great recipe for children to use, but please help with the boiling stage - boiling sugar is very hot.  You will need a sugar thermometer, and a preserving pan is also a good idea as it helps with the evaporation during the boiling process.

Classic Vanilla Fudge

Classic Vanilla Fudge

1 pint/600ml milk, semi-skimmed or full fat
4oz/110g butter
2lb/900g granulated sugar
2tsp good quality vanilla extract

Oil the base of the preserving pan with flavourless cooking oil and wipe off the residue.    This helps to stop the mixture from burning.     Also oil a Swiss Roll sized baking tray (10” x 12” or smaller) – one that will not warp.   

Put all the ingredients except the vanilla into the pan and bring to a simmer, stirring.   When the sugar has melted, and you can’t hear it when you stir, boil the fudge rapidly until you get to 114 deg C (or soft ball).   This takes ages!   Some recipes say you should only stir occasionally, but ignore that – the fudge will do its best to burn on the bottom of the pan and you’ll get unattractive brown flecks (if that is the case, add 4oz/110g choc chips or nuts to disguise them!).    

Take it off the heat, cool very slightly and add the vanilla.  Then beat it until it fudges  – it goes opaque and starts to crystallise and you can just hear a scrunchy noise.   Quickly pour it into the tin and smooth it out.  If you’re too slow it will solidify in the pan.   Cut it into squares when it is cool enough that a knife cuts without getting either smears of fudge (too soon) or you can’t get it through (too late).

When it is cold, break it out of the tin by sacrificing the first square and digging a palette knife underneath it.  The rest should follow.  

(Sometimes I have found that the fudge could do with slightly less than 114 deg, when you can hear it crystallising on the sides).

I added 1/4pint/150ml of double cream... sheer indulgence.   Enjoy! 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Kate's Puddings Cookbook - perfect for Mother's Day

Instead of just using the blog, why not get a copy of Kate's Puddings Cookbook?   Lots of delicious recipes, some easy, some very easy, but all tested and photographed.   Most of them will not be appearing on my blog, so why not buy it and treat yourself?  Email me on - the book is £13.50 plus £ 3 postage - and I promise it will be with you as fast as its beautifully wipe-clean pages and spiral binding can run!

Kate's Puddings Cookbook

Canterbury Pudding Two Ways

In the spirit of generosity I am sharing with you a recipe I have failed on.... twice.   Living near Canterbury, I thought I'd try Canterbury Pudding, in the hope that this historic regional speciality might be a delight to the palate.  Alas, not.  Or, at least, not when I made it!  So I'm throwing this out as a challenge to all you wonderful cooks, in the hope that you succeed where I failed.   The pudding was intended to be either steamed or baked.  I tried both, and, as you can see, neither looks inviting, and neither was particularly edible.   Even the chickens rejected them initially!  To be fair, it did call for shredded suet or butter, and I used butter.   Maybe some historic recipes are doomed to die.    I promise you something more tempting next week.

Canterbury Pudding

Canterbury Pudding
Canterbury Pudding              

3oz/75g breadcrumbs (fresh, not stale!)
3oz/75g self-raising flour
3oz/75g suet or softened butter
2oz/50g soft brown sugar
1 egg
1 lemon, zest and juice
3 tbsp brandy
3tbsp milk

Grease a 2 pint/1100ml pudding basin, if you are going to steam the pudding, or grease a deep pie dish if you are baking it.    Mix together all the dry ingredients, then add in all the wet ingredients - a little milk at a time, as you want to produce a dropping consistency.  Pour the mixture into the pudding basin, cover with a hat of baking parchment tied with string (put a pleat in the middle to allow for the pudding to rise) and steam for 1.5 to 2 hours in a large, lidded saucepan, making sure that the water doesn’t come more than half way up the pudding basin. 

If you are baking the pudding, cook at 180 deg C for about an hour until well risen (it doesn’t!).     Turn out the pudding and serve hot with custard.

This quantity will feed up to 10 hens.   

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Coconut and Lime Macaroons

Two delicious flavours together are coconut with lime.  I adore the tartness of limes, and their glorious green colour.   Experimentally making macaroons with coconut instead of ground almonds, I decided to go the whole hog and add some lime zest and juice too.    My testers gave them the thumbs up and the accolade of the clean plate!    These macaroons are not particularly glamorous - consider them to be the rustic country cousins of beautiful coloured French macarons, but never judge a book by its cover.... they are also gluten and dairy-free.

Lime and Coconut Macaroons

Coconut and Lime Macaroons

1 egg white
3 ½ oz/100g caster sugar
2oz/50g desiccated coconut (unsweetened)
juice of half a lime
zest of 1 lime

Line 1-2 baking sheets with silicone paper/parchment (it has to be non-stick: I learned this the hard way!), and preheat the oven to 180 deg C.

Whisk the egg white until stiff, and fold in the lime zest and juice, coconut and caster sugar.   Put dessertspoonfuls of mixture onto the paper, allowing room to spread (about 6 per tray).     

Bake for about 10-15 minutes until just beginning to colour.  When you take them out they will be squidgy, but leave them and they will harden but still have a gloriously chewy inside.    

Friday, 14 March 2014

Kentish Pudding Pie, or Kent Lent Tart

Living in Kent, I thought I'd like to try a few traditional local recipes, and have had varying degrees of success! (of which more later).   The first one was Kentish Pudding Pie, also known as Kent Lent Tart, which originated in Folkestone, and was popular during Lent when diets were even more restricted than usual.  Having said that, I'm not always certain how many recipes containing lemons and ground rice can be deeply traditional!  Revd  Sydney Smith described life in Yorkshire in the 1800s as being "so far out of the way that it was actually twelve miles from a lemon", so maybe they were widely available!   Maybe the lemon zest was a later addition.  I made this one for a Puds Night, where we had puds from all over Europe, so I wanted a local one to add to the selection.

Kentish Pudding Pie or Kent Lent Tart

Kent Lent Tart/Kentish Pudding Pie

Shortcrust pastry:
6oz/150g plain flour
3oz/75g butter, chilled
3-4tbsp cold water
1 pinch salt

Make the pastry either by hand or in a food processor.  Line an 8” flan tin, prick the base, and refrigerate for 20 minutes to rest the pastry before baking blind at 180 deg C for 15 minutes until it is cooked, but not brown.     

½ pint/285ml milk
1oz/25g ground rice
3oz/75g butter at room temperature
2oz/50g caster sugar
2 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
½ tsp nutmeg
1oz/25g currants (or raisins, but currants are more traditional)

Put the rice and milk into a non-stick pan and bring to the boil, stirring until the rice thickens (be careful, you can get to “concrete” very quickly!).  Put aside to cool while you make the rest of the filling.   Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, then add the lemon zest, nutmeg and cooked rice, pouring the resulting mixture into the pastry case.  Scatter currants on the top.

The original recipe suggested this was baked for 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown and firm on top, but I rescued it much earlier!    It is best served warm. 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Rhubarb Tray Bake with Oat and Walnut Topping

Ever on the hunt for rhubarb recipes, I spotted this in Tesco's Real Food magazine, and just had to try it!  It had its first test at a TA weekend, and it was a great success.   You could also try using pieces of ginger, as they go so well with rhubarb.   The oat and walnut topping gives a fabulous crunch, and then there is a layer of tart rhubarb and a cake base.   Use the lovely pink winter rhubarb, and it makes the crumble top look bright and pretty.   I made this with rice flour instead of wheat, so it was also gluten-free.   If you substituted the butter for a dairy-free spread, it could also be dairy free.   I've found it is best to keep this uncovered until it is completely cold, as it will absorb any remaining steam from the cooking rhubarb and go a bit soft.

Rhubarb Tray Bake

Rhubarb Tray Bake with Oat and Walnut Topping

3.5oz/100g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
4oz/110g butter at room temperature (or spread)
3.5oz/100g caster sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract

Rhubarb Mix:
8oz/250g rhubarb, cut into small pieces
1tbsp soft brown sugar
1tbsp flour

3oz/75g butter (or spread), melted
3oz/75g plain flour  
4oz/110g soft brown sugar
2oz/50g walnuts, chopped roughly
2oz/50g oats

Preheat the oven to 190 deg C, and line an 8” square tin with parchment.    First, make the topping by forking together the butter, flour and sugar into big crumbs, then mix in the walnuts and oats.  Put this in the fridge to chill.

Next, sift together the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt.   In a separate bowl, mix the rhubarb, 1tbsp flour and the soft brown sugar so that the rhubarb is evenly coated.   Then, in another bowl, beat the caster sugar and butter until fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, and carry on beating.  Add the vanilla and then mix in the flour. 

Pour the beaten mix into the tin and cover with half of the oat and walnut topping.  Put the rhubarb on top, and finish with the remaining topping.  Bake for 45 minutes or until it a hot knife blade or skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean.   

Friday, 7 March 2014

Delicious Magazine's Blood Orange Sorbet

Blood oranges are an extraordinary surprise - a slightly dull-looking orange reveals unexpected ruby red flesh and juice.  They are delicious in their own right, but also make a fabulous sorbet - refreshing but also sweet, and very, very easy to create.  Delicious Magazine (my favourite cookery mag) did this wonderful recipe, which you will love.  You could also make it with normal oranges, or with orange juice (less hassle!). It's also perfect for gluten and dairy-free diets - serve with some little home made macaroons!

Blood Orange Sorbet

Blood Orange Sorbet

¼ pint/150ml water
7oz/200g sugar
600ml blood orange juice (about 8-10 oranges)
juice of half a lemon
2-3tbsp amaretto (which I didn't use)

Put the water and sugar into a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Simmer for 5 -10 minutes, remove the saucepan from the heat and leave it to cool entirely.    

Mix the juice (add the amaretto here if you are using it) and the syrupy water, and put into an ice cream maker.

Alternatively, put the mixture into a large polythene tub and freeze for 1 hour.  Remove from the freezer, mash up the crystals with a fork, and return.  Freeze for 30 minutes, and then beat it up again – repeat another 3 times.   Then freeze until firm.  This makes the sorbet light, with a smooth texture.

Sorbet, like ice cream, is best eaten slightly warmer than frozen, so get it out of the freezer 10-15 minutes before you want to use it.  

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Chocolate Pancakes

Shrove Tuesday AKA Pancake Day - the day of the year for mandatory pancakes!   You will simply love these chocolate pancakes with ice cream and chocolate sauce....  They are incredibly quick to make (you don't have to leave the batter to stand, but it does give it a better texture), and can be re-heated if for some extraordinary reason they haven't all been eaten at once!   These are finished off with some chocolate caramel fudge sauce and a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.   Normal pancake batter is made without sugar, and the sugar is added later.  This recipe includes sugar, as the cocoa tasted odd without it, and I wasn't planning to add sugar at the end.  

Chocolate Pancakes
Chocolate Pancakes

3 ½ oz/100g plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp caster sigar
1 egg
½ pint of milk

Butter to fry

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor/blender and whizz until thick and gloopy.  Leave to stand for half an hour.

Heat a frying pan and put in a small knob of butter.  Melt it and get it sizzling but not burnt.   Pour in the batter and swirl around the pan until it is evenly spread over the base (not too thick – use the first one as a test!).  Cook until it is beginning to brown underneath.  Turn the pancake over, tossing if you are feeling adventurous, otherwise using a spatula.  Cook on the other side.    Put onto a plate and repeat the process.  

This quantity will make 16 8” pancakes.  Serve with ice cream and chocolate sauce, dusted with icing sugar!