Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Double Chocolate Fudge

Do you know anybody who doesn't absolutely adore home made fudge?   Home made chocolate fudge is one of the seven Wonders of the World... up there with sticky toffee pudding and meringues...  This is, in my view, even more amazing than standard chocolate fudge as it uses double the amount of chocolate, yet the fudge is still crisp, with a snap to it.    That's the main difference between home made and commercial fudge - commercial fudge is all gooey and tastes oily. 

For the quantity below, use an 8"/20cm square tin.  I generally make double, as it disappears too quickly otherwise.   You will need a sugar thermometer. 

Double Chocolate Fudge

Double Chocolate Fudge

1lb/450g granulated sugar
½ pint/300ml milk
2oz/50g butter
2 tbsp cocoa powder
4oz/100g plain chocolate, chopped

Grease an 8” square tin.    Butter the base of a heavy saucepan (quite a large one, as it helps evaporation).   Put all the ingredients apart from the chocolate into the pan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Now add the chocolate and cocoa powder, and stir it in so that it all disappears.

Bring to the boil, and boil the mixture steadily, stirring only when you have to, as the fudge will burn on the base of the pan.   Boil until it reaches 114 deg C /238 deg F.  This takes some time!   

Take the pan off the heat and allow it to cool a little, beating the mixture until it starts to thicken and goes a little cloudy/opaque.   If you pour it straight into the tin, it will not set properly at this stage.   When you can just hear it becoming granular (fudging), pour it straight into the tin and leave it until it has nearly set.  If in doubt, pour it in to the tin and then stir it about a bit – the worst option is to leave it until it has set in the pan!  

Cut into squares with a sharp (not serrated) knife.  Leave in the tin until it is firm.    Put into cellophane bags and decorate, or just eat straight from the tin…

Monday, 15 October 2018

Breton Cake

I'm a keen follower of Stephen Harris's column in the Saturday Telegraph, not least because his award-winning restaurant is only a few miles away from where I live.    He has a lovely no-nonsense approach to food, but it is clear he absolutely loves what he does.

Breton Cake is a very butter-rich cake, and Stephen has chosen to offset the richness with a sharp gooseberry purée as well as some luxurious cream on the top.  I experimented with it for this year's Stour Festival, as you can't have too much cream at Stour!   It went down well, as it only has a small amount of obvious cream, and is more cakey than most of the offerings on the table.   I'm sure that it would be absolutely delicious with apples instead of gooseberries.    This picture doesn't show it to advantage - the cream has the look of desperate urgency about it which is quite true!  It also shows that my oven runs hot and the cake was a little bit browner than I'd like.

Breton Cake with Gooseberries and Elderflowers

Breton Cake with Gooseberries and Elderflowers

7oz190g butter at room temperature
3oz/75g egg yolks (from approx. 4 large eggs)
6oz/160g caster sugar
9oz/250g plain flour
8g/1 tsp baking powder
4 large fresh eggs
Pinch of salt

Gooseberry Purée Filling:
14oz/400g gooseberries, topped and tailed
3.5oz/80g caster sugar
1-2tbsp water

1 pint/500ml double cream
2oz/50g icing sugar
Elderflowers to decorate (I forgot!)

Take an 8”/ 22cm tart ring (or a sandwich tin without the base).  Line a baking ray with parchment and put the ring on top.   Cream the butter by beating it until it is pale.  In a Kenwood/Kitchen Aid mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale and fluffy, and then add the butter and mix everything together.  Then slowly (!) add the dry ingredients until you have a sticky dough.  Tip the dough into the tart tin and press it down with your fingers.  Wet a round-blade knife and smooth the surface.  Put the tray and ring into the fridge for an hour or two to rest.

Now heat oven to 180 deg C.   Bake the tart for approx. 30 minutes until it is golden brown (check after 20), then leave to cool.

Cook the gooseberries with the sugar and water until mushy.  Leave to cool.   Whip the cream with the sugar until it is thick enough to pipe. 

To decorate, spread the puree over the cake, then pipe the cream in a single spiral (I wish!), starting at the centre.  Top with elderflowers and dust with icing sugar.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Quince Cheese

I know this is not a pudding, but quince cheese is so delicious, it deserves to be one!    A cheese is a traditional preserve made in time of plenty, as a lot of ingredients go into relatively small pots after a lot of cooking.  However, they keep well, and in fact shouldn't be eaten before 3-4 months have passed.   They develop their flavour and colour over time.   This is a recipe from an old copy of Good Housekeeping, and its recipes are definitely maturing well! 

Quince cheese is similar to Membrillo, and is absolutely delicious with cheese, especially Manchego and (for me) Cornish Yarg.     I have given a quantity in the recipe below, but if you can only find a handful of quinces, make it anyway.

The photo below shows the raw quinces with this year's cheese - it's pale and anaemic compared to last year's richer, more terracotta coloured preserve.

Quince Cheese
Quince Cheese

3 ¼ lb/1.5kg quinces, washed but not peeled
Water to cover
1lb/450g sugar to 1lb/450g pulp

Chop the quinces into four to six pieces (using a sharp knife and some effort as they are very tough).   Put everything into a preserving pan and add water so that it just covers them.  Simmer for at least half an hour until the fruit is very soft and you can stick a knife into them easily.    

Use a plastic sieve if you have one (it stops the fruit from discolouring) and push the cooked fruit and a bit of the water through the sieve – I find it helps to pick out the tough cores and stems at this point.   Discard the remaining water and wash out the pan.   Weigh the pulp and add the sugar.  Over a medium heat stir it until the sugar has dissolved, then raise the heat and boil it gently until the bubbling mass is very thick and if you scrape a wooden spoon across the pan, it will leave a clean line (though not for long!).   As it gets closer to this stage, the fruit will try to stick and burn on the bottom of the pan, so give it your full attention and keep it moving. 

I prefer to use little glass or pottery pots/jars, so you can in principle turn the cheese out at some point.   Wipe the insides of the jars with olive oil.   Pour in the cheese, and cover each jar with a waxed disc (if you don’t have any large enough, baking parchment will do).   Then cover with a standard jam pot cover or, if the pot is too large, cling film.   

I can’t tell you how much this makes – probably about 6-8 little pots at least, but you will have a stash of beautiful amber coloured quince cheeses at the end!

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Mojito Cheesecake

Another cheesecake recipe?  Why not!   This was an experiment (famous last words that my friends have come to know), but one which worked well at Stour Festival, although, if I'm honest, it would have worked better if the rum glaze had either been a bit colder when it went on, or the cheesecake wasn't right up to the edges - in fact, you can see a hole in the picture below.  The cheesecake is still in its travelling case, so not fully decorated. 

If you are in doubt about this, a tip I can offer is that you make the gel glaze in a separate tin - ie, a cake tin with a solid base the same size - and only put it onto the cheesecake when it has set. 

Mojito Cheesecake
Mojito Cheesecake

8oz/225g digestive biscuits, crushed to crumbs
4oz/110g butter

8oz/225g cream cheese or soft cheese (full fat)
8oz/225g Mascarpone cheese (or just cream cheese)
3oz/75g icing sugar
10floz/280ml double cream
Juice and zest of 2 limes
Handful of very finely chopped mint
White Rum

2 sheets gelatine softened in water
5 floz/140ml White Rum and lime juice  
Mint leaves and another lime

Line a 9” spring clip tin with parchment.   Melt the butter in a bowl, add the biscuit crumbs, mix well and spread them over the base of the tin.  Chill in the fridge until set.     

In a Magimix, beat together the cream cheese, Mascarpone, icing sugar, cream, lime and a small amount of rum (a quick glug).  Beat until the cream thickens up, then add the lime zest and mint (I always find it sticks to the whisk otherwise!).  Pour the mixture into the tin and level it, making sure that it goes right to the edges.   Allow to chill for at least an hour.  Now take the gelatine and soften it in water.   Warm the rum to approx. blood heat before melting the gelatine into it – if it doesn’t dissolve, heat the Baileys a bit further).  Wait until the gelatine has started to cool and set, then pour it over the cheesecake.

Chill for a couple of hours until set.   

To remove from the tin, run a knife or thin spatula around the edge so that, when you remove the clip, the jelly layer does not break (nor do you lose a lot of the cheesecake on the sides of the tin, though that’s a cook’s bonus!).  Decorate with mint leaves and lime slices.  

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Hazelnut and Chocolate Caramels

Ever in pursuit of new recipes, I thought I'd try this delicious-sounding one cut out of the Sunday Times Magazine.   The resulting sweets tasted absolutely divine, and went down well with my testers.  If you sense a "but" coming, you are right!   But.... they didn't get hard enough to eat without very messy fingers, which wouldn't have mattered, except that my test group and I were on a trip to Ypres as part of the World War I commemorations.    Actually, taking home made caramels to Belgium is an exercise in "coals to Newcastle" anyway - and, yes, I was cheeky enough to ask the young woman in the Leonidas chocolate shop to taste one!   (and, yes, she liked it)

The recipe states quite clearly that you should not try the caramel until it has set.  As you can see from the photo below, I couldn't do that.   You will need a sugar thermometer - it's a great excuse to buy one! 

Toasted Hazelnut and Chocolate Caramels
Toasted Hazelnut and Chocolate Caramels

240ml double cream
140g dark chocolate
1 pinch of salt
195g golden caster sugar (I used half white and half soft brown)
75g liquid glucose
1.5tbsp unsalted butter (I used salted)
65g whole hazelnuts, blanched and toasted

Line a medium square tin with non stick parchment and set aside (about 8” square).  Get a sugar thermometer ready. 

Melt together the cream, chocolate and pinch of salt in a microwave (easiest) or heatproof bowl over simmering water.    Now take a medium size heavy base pan and warm the sugar, glucose and 1.5 tbsp of water over a low heat until it has dissolved. You can stir it occasionally.  Turn up the heat and boil until it becomes a terracotta colour – first of all the bubbles will get larger, and then the colour will change from clear to golden, and then to brown.   To keep the temperature even, swirl the pan from time to time.    Once it has become a caramel colour, take it off the heat.

Now, pour in the melted cream and chocolate.   Be careful, as the boiling caramel is VERY hot!   Put the pan back on the heat (medium), and stir until the caramel thickens and reaches 107 deg C. 

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and hazelnuts.  Pour the caramel into the tray and leave it to cool.   I sprinkled some salt flakes on it at this point, as I love the salt coming through the caramel.   Resist the temptation to cut it up until it has become thoroughly cool and hard (possibly my mistake!).   It should become hard enough to need cutting with a knife warmed in hot water.   Wrap the little rectangles/squares in waxed paper. 

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Blackcurrant and Blackcurrant Leaf Water Ice

It’s the time of year for currants, and, if you grow them, you’ll probably have a freezer full of the things by now!   I’ve made jams aplenty, but prefer this really intensely flavoured and delicious sorbet.   The original recipe was a Claire MacDonald Water Ice, so there's a higher proportion of liquid to fruit than a standard sorbet.   It did not include egg white, but I found that the egg white gives the whole ice a kind of frothy smoothness – so add it if you want to, or leave it out entirely.  Some recipes call for the egg white to be whisked.  The last time I made this, I totally forgot, so added the white while the mixture was in the churn.  It doesn’t seem to make any difference.  

This pudding was my Stour Showstopper - maybe that should be a new category!   Served in an ice bowl, it was one of the pudding highlights of 2018... 

Blackcurrant and Blackcurrant Leaf Water Ice
Blackcurrant and Blackcurrant Leaf Water Ice 

8oz/2250g sugar (use 6oz/175g in the syrup)
1 pint of water
Rind and juice of 2 lemons
Handful of blackcurrant leaves
8oz/225g blackcurrants
1 egg white

First make a sugar syrup with 6oz/175g sugar, lemon rind and water by bringing them to the boil, boiling for 5 minutes.  Take off the heat, add the lemon juice and blackcurrant leaves and then allow it to cool (you can put it in the freezer).   Wash the blackcurrants (don’t bother to top and tail), and put them into a pan with the rest of the sugar and 4tbsp water.  Simmer gently for at least 10 minutes until they are soft – blackcurrants have quite tough skins!  Allow the purée to cool then sieve the blackcurrants to remove the seeds.   

Strain the syrup and mix it together with the currant purée.  Whisk the egg white until it forms soft peaks and fold it into the mixture – this lightens the texture (or if you have an ice cream maker, simply add the egg white in its natural state). 

Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker.   Alternatively, freeze in a shallow container in the freezer, whisking it every couple of hours to stop large crystals from forming.

Remove from the freezer before serving, as any ice cream/sorbet is best slightly softened.  This will make enough for about 6-8 people.  

Monday, 25 June 2018

Bailey's Cheesecake

This year's Stour Music brings new puddings to the groaning table, and this Bailey's Cheesecake was particularly popular, even for people who (like me) don't actually like Bailey's!   I have a particular affection for an easy cheesecake, having been brought up on those impossible ones with lots of gelatine, whisked eggs and such flummery.   Having said that, I might blog my mother's blackcurrant one, just for the retro value. 

In the era of Magimixes, it is pointless trying to whisk cream separately and then incorporate it, so this is the simplest kind of all-in-one recipe, with a few extra touches to make it extra special. 

Bailey's Cheesecake

Bailey’s and Chocolate Cheesecake

8oz/225g digestive biscuits, crushed to crumbs (gluten free biscuits work well)
4oz/110g butter
4oz/110g dark chocolate

8oz/225g cream cheese or soft cheese (full fat)
8oz/225g Mascarpone cheese (or just more cream cheese)
3oz/75g icing sugar
10floz/280ml double cream
Baileys Irish Cream

2 sheets gelatine softened in water
5 floz/140ml Bailey’s Irish Cream
2oz/60g dark chocolate

Line the base of a 9” spring clip tin with parchment.   Melt the butter in a bowl, add the biscuit crumbs, mix well and spread them over the base of the tin.  Chill in the fridge until set.   Melt the chocolate and spread it over the chilled biscuits.  Allow to set.

In a Magimix, beat together the cream cheese, Mascarpone, icing sugar, cream and a glug of Baileys (unmeasurable, but you know what I mean).  Beat until the cream thickens up.  Scoop this mixture into the tin and level it.   Allow to chill for at least an hour.  Now take the gelatine and soften it in water.   Warm the Baileys to approx. blood heat before melting the gelatine into it – if it doesn’t dissolve, heat the Baileys a bit further).  Wait until the gelatine has started to cool and set, then pour it over the cheesecake.

Chill for a couple of hours until set.   

To make the chocolate scribble, melt the chocolate and pipe it onto baking parchment.  Chill in the fridge.  Simple designs work best. 

To remove from the tin, run a knife or thin spatula around the edge so that, when you remove the clip, the jelly layer does not break (nor do you lose a lot of the cheesecake on the sides of the tin, though that’s a cook’s bonus!).  If you can't remove the parchment, remember it is there when you cut into the cheesecake...

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Thyme Crème Caramel

This is a really delicious update on an old favourite!    I have been experimenting with various herbs, and thyme is extraordinary, as it goes really well with meat, but also with puddings and biscuits.  It has to be fresh, as little dried leaves don't work as a substitute.   When I made this one, I thought I'd overdone the caramel, but the slightly darker colour gave it more of a tang than usual.   Have you discovered the top tip for creme caramel?   When you have shaken the caramel out of the dish, microwave the dish to melt the rest of the caramel that sticks to the sides and pour it over the top (or keep it till later as the cook's perk!!).  This recipe quantity makes a good sized Crème - if you wanted a smaller one, look for one of my other recipes on the blog. 

Thyme Crème Caramel

Thyme-infused Crème Caramel

6 oz sugar
7.5 fl oz/220ml water

1 small bunch fresh thyme with extra to decorate
1.5 pints/880ml full fat or semi-skimmed milk
6 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 150 deg C and boil a kettle of water.   Get a soufflé dish or oven proof dish with a minimum base diameter of 9”/23cm ready.

In a small strong pan, boil the sugar and water until it forms a caramel – it goes bubbly and brown.  Take off the heat and gently pour it into the soufflé dish, using a heat-proof spatula to get the last delicious scrapings off the pan.   Swirl the dish around slowly while the caramel is setting to get an even coat, with some caramel up the sides.  Leave to get cold and hard.

Pour the milk into a non-stick pan.  Tie the thyme into a bunch so that it doesn’t fall apart, and add it to the milk.  Warm the milk to roughly blood heat, then pour onto the beaten eggs (and sugar).    Squeeze out the thyme, then stir the mixture thoroughly and strain it into the soufflé dish (this gets rid of those strange bits of egg white and any remaining leaves).  Put the dish into a baking tin and pour in enough boiling water to go half way up the side.   Bake for approx ¾ to1hr, until the caramel is set. 

Remove from the water, then put cling film on the top and refrigerate.  This is best left for at least 24hrs before unmoulding, as the caramel top gently merges into the cooked crème.  

To get it out of the dish successfully (!), run a palette knife round the edge, then put the receiving dish (one with at least 1” sides) on top of the soufflé dish.  Lift both dishes together and then turn them over in one movement.  There should be a gentle flop when the (hopefully undamaged) crème caramel slides onto the serving dish.    Add a sprinkling of thyme stalks.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Orange Crème Brulée

When I last blogged Crème Brulée, I had neither a blowtorch nor a grill.  Since then, I have become the proud owner of a cook's blowtorch (thanks John!) and the world of light, crisp caramel tops is now open...  and I have to say it does make a difference!

This is a highly decadent version of an already decadent pudding, as it has a small orange or citrus curd layer in the base, with a top of orange-flavoured caramel.  I used an orange curd, which is featured elsewhere on this blog, and used the remainder of the orange and a black pepper tuile (also on the blog) to serve.

Orange Crème Brulée
Crème Brulée

4 egg yolks
2oz (50g) caster sugar 
600ml (20 fl oz) double cream
1 tsp orange essence
zest of 1 orange (use the orange for decoration)
small jar of home made orange curd

Caramel:   caster sugar  
1 orange (to serve)
6 little ramekin dishes

Start by boiling a kettle of water (I always forget this bit).... and heating the oven to about 140 deg C.   Heat the double cream in a saucepan over a low heat, adding orange essence and the zest of 1 orange.  Meanwhile, mix the yolks and sugar together.  When the cream is at blood temperature, pour it over the yolks/sugar and whisk gently until well mixed.   

Put about a dessertpoonful of orange or citrus curd into six ramekin dishes.  Strain the crème and carefully pour it over the curd (I did it over the back of a spoon so the curd stayed at the bottom of the ramekin) and place the dishes in a roasting tin containing enough boiling water to come at least half way up the sides.   Bake for about three quarters to an hour until the mixture is set but not coloured (better that than runny though!).    Remove from the water, and allow to cool.   

Sprinkle approx 1 tsp caster sugar over each ramekin, then attack with a blowtorch until you have achieved caramelisation.   Allow this to set before eating. 

Cut the skin off the orange using a serrated knife and, holding the orange in your non-knife hand, cut each segment out of its transparent membrane.  There should be about 8-9 segments.  Do the same to the second orange, and serve with a tuile.   

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Chocolate and Orange Hot Cross Buns

Does a recipe ever leap at you from the page?  This one certainly did!  Delicious Magazine, my absolute favourite and source of many hours of food pleasure, popped this fabulous little number onto Facebook.  Once seen, I had to try it!   And now I am sharing it, as there's just time to get the ingredients ready to make your own for Good Friday.

What I tested here, apart from their fabulous recipe, was the overnight rising technique.  I make the dough up to the first rise, then put it into the fridge overnight, rescuing it at a time of my choosing the following day.  You have to leave it to rise/warm up for about half an hour or so, then continue with the rest of the recipe.  It's great to be able to produce fresh hot bread or buns for breakfast!!!

Spiced Chocolate and Orange Hot Cross Buns

Spiced Chocolate and Orange Hot Cross Buns

14oz/400g strong plain flour (bread flour) – plus extra for the crosses
1oz/25g cocoa powder
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp salt
3oz/85g butter (they use unsalted)
2 x sachets dried yeast
4oz/100g caster sugar
1 beaten egg
6 floz/190ml milk
3oz/75g raisins
3oz/75g milk chocolate, chopped
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
3oz/75g cut mixed peel  

Crosses:     3oz/75g flour, 1tbsp oil, 5 tbsp cold water
Glaze:         orange juice (as above) 2oz/50g caster sugar
Oven 190 deg C

If the raisins and peel are a bit hard, bring to the boil 2oz sugar and 1/4 pint water, add the dried fruit and simmer for a few minutes, then leave it to steep while you get the next part of the ingredients together.  Drain it before using.  

In a large mixing bowl, put 4oz (100g) of the flour, cocoa, mixed spice and walt.  Add the butter and rub it in until it looks like breadcrumbs.   Stir in the sugar and yeast.   Whisk together the egg and milk and pour it into the dried mixture.  Mix it quickly with a spoon to incorporate it.   This makes a very soft dough.   Turn onto a floured worktop and knead it until smooth (10 minutes).  Put back into the big bowl, cover with a cloth or greased cling film, and leave to rise until doubled in size – about 1 – 1 ½ hrs.     

At this point, you can put the dough into the fridge overnight, covered in cling film.  When you take it out, knead it gently, then continue, allowing longer than 30 minutes until the rolls have warmed up and risen.   

After that, turn the dough out again, add the raisins, chocolate, zest and peel and knead it again (about 2-3 minutes minimum).     
Cut the dough into 12 pieces, and shape into rolls.  Put them onto a floured baking sheet, cover with oiled clingfilm or a light cloth, then leave for another 30 minutes to prove.   

Score the tops of the buns with a serrated knife with a cross (I didn’t do this).   Mix together the flour, oil and water to a paste and pipe the crosses over the score marks.    Put the buns into the oven. 

In a small pan, mix the orange juice and sugar.  Boil for 2 minutes.  

Bake for about 15-20 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch (watch that they don’t go over-brown – always hard to tell with chocolate).    When you take them out, glaze the buns with the orange syrup mix.  For best results, do this twice, then leave them to cool…. if you can resist them for that long. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Blood Orange and Chocolate Cheesecake

What is life if not to test new puddings on one's friends?   Reader, they ate all of it...

This is a smooth cheesecake, very quick to make and containing no raw eggs.   In fact, it is the absolute antithesis of those solid, stiff, complicated cheesecakes that were the signature pudding of the 1970s!   I adore the combination of orange and dark chocolate, and had a few blood oranges knocking around in a bowl (as you do).   Of course you can make this with ordinary oranges, but the blood oranges just give a better colour.    I have given a quantity of juice, not number of oranges, for this reason.   It works well with gluten free digestive biscuits.

Blood Orange and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

Blood Orange and Chocolate Cheesecake

8oz/225g digestive biscuits, crushed to crumbs
5oz/125g dark chocolate
1oz/25g butter

8oz/225g cream cheese or soft cheese
8oz/225g Mascarpone cheese
3oz/75g caster sugar
2 sheets gelatine softened in water plus 2 sheets for the topping
12floz/340ml blood orange juice (about 4 or 5) and zest of 1 orange
1 tsp orange essence (not vital)
10floz/280ml double cream

6oz/150g dark chocolate, melted 
½ oz/10g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup

Line a 9” spring clip tin with parchment.   Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl, add the biscuit crumbs, mix well and spread them over the base of the tin.  Chill in the fridge until set. 

In a Magimix, beat together the cream cheese, orange zest, essence, Mascarpone and sugar.   Warm 2 tbsp of orange juice and add the softened gelatine, stirring until the gelatine has disappeared.   Add this, and the cream, to the mixture.  Beat until the cream thickens up.  Scoop this mixture into the tin and level it up (important!).   Allow to chill for at least half an hour.  Now take the remaining sheets of gelatine and soften them in water.   Warm the remaining juice and sieve it into a bowl before melting the gelatine into it.  Wait until the gelatine has started to set again (as otherwise it will find how un-level the cheesecake is and pour off the sides!), then pour it over the cheesecake.

Chill for a couple of hours until set.   

Melt together the chocolate, butter and golden syrup, beating gently until it is shiny, then allow it to cool a little and thicken.  You could either pour this all over the jelly top, or into large stripes.   Serve the cheesecake slightly warm (ie, not straight from the fridge) with the remainder of the chocolate, warmed up. 

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Cherry and Raspberry Fudge Crumble

Inventiveness, when in snow conditions and unable to get out of the drive, is all-important!  Frustrated by a wish to make a lovely warming fudge crumble combined with a lack of the usual rhubarb, I was forced to investigate the freezer for alternatives.... and just look what I found!!!!   Sweet cherries and home grown raspberries make the most delicious pudding imaginable.   It made up beautifully using gluten free digestive biscuits.  If you do use them, use a little less butter. 

Cherry and Raspberry Fudge Crumble
Cherry and Raspberry Fudge Crumble

1 ½ lb/900g frozen cherries and raspberries (approx.)
2oz/50g sugar, white or brown (to taste – I usually use less)
Slug of cassis/framboise

for the crumble: 
4oz/110g butter (3.5oz/90g if using gluten free biscuits)
4oz/110g Demerara sugar
6oz/170g digestive biscuits, crushed to crumbs
1 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon

Defrost the fruit in an ovenproof dish.  Add the liqueur and sugar to taste. 

Set the oven to 200 deg C.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the Demerara sugar, digestive crumbs and cinnamon.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.  Then cover the fruit with the crumble and bake in a hot oven 200 deg C for 15 or so minutes until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and serve either warm with vanilla ice cream (home made, naturally!) or cold with whipped cream/Greek yoghurt.  

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Lime and Basil Crunch Pie

This is an update on the classic Key Lime Pie, with a delicious twist of basil.  Very simple to make, it’s a firm favourite with my family, friends and also at the Stour Festival, where it is always one of the first to be finished.  What my father would describe as “the accolade of the empty plate”!    This serves about 8.

Lime and Basil Crunch Pie
Lime and Basil Crunch Pie

8oz/230g Gingernuts or Hobnobs, crushed (use gluten free biscuits if wished)
4oz/110 g butter, melted
Juice and zest of 4 limes
1 can condensed milk (full fat)
½ pint/300ml double cream
Small handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped, but not too fine
1 lime for decoration

Grease a 9” springclip tin and put baking parchment in the base.   Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and spread into the tin, levelling out.  Put in the fridge to allow the butter to harden.

Whisk the condensed milk, cream and lime zest and juice together for about 5 minutes or so until it has thickened.   This is best done with a Kenwood/Kitchen Aid mixer, or at least a deep bowl so you don’t redecorate the kitchen!

Lastly, add the basil leaves and stir in.  Pour the mixture onto the biscuit base, level the top and chill for at least half an hour so that it sets.    Cut the last lime into thin pieces and arrange over the top.

When you remove this from the tin, remember that it has paper underneath…

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Baked Bananas with Rum and Chocolate

The simplest recipes are sometimes the best....  this is a long established family favourite, especially useful when a whole hand of bananas appears to be in imminent danger (but not so bad that banana bread is the only option!).   It's the sort of pudding you can put together in a couple of minutes and leave in the oven while eating the main course, and perfect in winter when all you want to do is eat carbs but you know fruit is good for you....   You can use either lime or lemon juice.   If lemon, allow half a lemon per person.

It is best served with Greek yoghurt, or some plain ice cream.  If I'm honest, the ones in the picture below could have done with a sprinkling of sugar and a quick dash under a grill, but I was too hungry to wait!

Baked Bananas with Rum and Chocolate
Baked Bananas with Rum and Chocolate

Per person:
2 bananas, peeled
1 lime, zest and juice (you can omit the zest if you don't like it)
1 tbsp dark rum 
1 ½ tbsp. muscovado or soft brown sugar

Small handful chocolate chunks
Greek yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 200 deg C.

Either cut the bananas in half lengthways, or simply put into a baking dish just large enough.    Mix together the lime zest, juice, rum and sugar.   Pour it over the top of the bananas.  Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or so.    The bananas are better slightly overcooked than under – undercooked they will look distinctly unappealing!   You could sprinkle more sugar on and pop the dish under the grill just to get a lovely top.

Serve with a handful of chocolate (not mandatory) and a good dollop of healthy Greek yoghurt.

You could also serve it with cream or ice cream, if you were desperate!