Tuesday 31 May 2011

Strawberry Mojito Pudding

While at the grocers picking up veg for my Summer Tart I spied a large box of English Strawberries for £1.70 so I thought I would do a dessert as well.

Again, being lazy, I wanted to keep it simple but big on flavour.

I decided to attempt to combine the flavours of a Mojito (easily my favourite cocktail after a Vesper Martini) along with the summer classic of Strawberries and Cream.

Punnet of English Strawberries
Mint leaves (to taste)
25ml measure of Golden Rum
1 Tbsp golden Caster Sugar

250ml  Double cream
1Tbsp Icing sugar

Remove the stalk from about half of the strawberries and cut in half.
Place in a bowl and pour over the Rum and Caster Sugar
Rip up some mint leaves and add them to bowl.
Mix up and leave for an hour or so.

Whisk up the cream until stiff using an electic hand whisk or elbow power.
Beat in icing sugar.
Tip in the contents of the bowl and mix in gently.

To serve:
Thinly slice some remaining strawberries and place in the bottom of a martini glass.
Spoon over the strawberries and cream
Garnish with a sprig of mint and more strawberries


Simple Summer Tart

Seeking inspiration for my dinner this evening, I had a quick look on BBC food to see what was in season and holy mackerel(in season) do I like this time of year for food.

You've got; to name just a few:

lamb, french beans, peas, mangetout, radish, raspberry, sardines and the mighty tomato and strawberries.

I was in the mood for something easy to make, so with asparagus reaching the end of it's season I had a wander to the grocers to pick up some alongside some tomatoes to make a simple flavourful tart.

250g Ready made puff pastry (this just about covers a 20cm/30cm tray)
A little beaten egg

I'm not gonna give amounts for this because you can use as little or as much of the ingredient you prefer or even nothing I've used and create your own using your favourites.

Serrano ham
Red onion
Black pepper
Fresh basil

Pre heat the oven to 200C
Grease the tray with a little oil.
Roll out the pastry, large enough to cover the bottom of the tray and drape it over.

Brush with egg and put it into the oven for 2 minutes, this creates a waterproof layer.
Remove from the oven and place on whatever ingredients you like, however you like.
Bake for 20 minute or until the pastry is puffed up and golden.

I ground some black pepper and ripped some fresh basil over at this point.


Thursday 26 May 2011

Andhra banana curry

In my current school, every other Wednesday a world food club is held. This weeks theme was Indian.

A cook off challenge was issued to me from the head of department and who I am to refuse a cooking challenge.

Instead of playing it safe and doing something fairly standard I decided to come at it from another angle and try something a bit unusual and different...a curry made with bananas from Ramsay's great escape cookbook.

So having endured a day of abuse, mocking and mind games the big cook off challenge arrived:

Andhra banana curry
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
3cm ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1tsp urad dal
2tbsp vegetable oil
8 curry leaves
1tsp black mustard seeds
1tsp hot chili powder
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tbsp tamarind paste
400ml water
6 large unripe bananas, peeled and cut into 4cm pieces
2 tbsp grated fresh coconut.

Put the garlic, ginger, urad dal and a splash of water into a food processor and blend to a fine wet paste, set aside
Heat the oil in a wok and add the curry leaves and mustard seeds. cook for a minute until the seeds start spluttering.
Add the garlic paste into the pan with the wok with the turmeric and chili powder.
Fry for 5 minutes then add the tamarind paste.
Pour in the water and stir well, simmer for 2 minutes
Add the bananas and cook gently until the sauce thickens
Transfer into a warm bowl, stir in the coconut and serve.

Verdict: I will let the contrasting opinions sum this one up:

'A banana curry? really?'
'What on earth are you putting bananas in a curry for?'
'Are you mad?'

*in a broad yorkshire accent*: 'ooo thats reeeeet nice'
'Thats awesome sir'
'a very good balanced dish' (said grudingly from the HOD)

A draw was decided upon after an argument but I won really.

Tiramisu Cake

Last week I reached the rip old age of 23 (pre-orders walking stick). To celebrate this joyous of joyful days the Other Half, instead of making me a usual birthday cake, decided to make a Tiramisu cake for me which is hands down one of my all time favourite desserts. So having stuffed my face with it I demanded the recipe to share with you lovely lot.

Tiramisu Cake
  200g tub mascarpone cheese
  75g (3oz) caster sugar
  60ml (4tbsp) Marsala wine
  150g (5oz) plain chocolate, melted
  300ml (1/2pt) double cream
  150ml (1/4pt) strong black coffee, use the good stuff if you can, not instant.
  45ml (3tbsp) coffee liqueur, such as Tia Maria
  24 sponge fingers
  Chocolate curls to decorate

Place the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl and beat in the sugar and Marsala wine. Stir in the melted chocolate.

In a separate bowl, softly whip two-thirds of the cream. Fold the cream into the chocolate mixture.

Line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with clingfilm. Mix together the coffee and coffee liqueur. Trim 8 of the sponge fingers to fit the base of the tin. Dip each trimmed sponge finger into the coffee mixture, then place in the base of the tin.

Spread over half the chocolate cream, then top with 8 more sponge fingers dipped in the coffee mixture.

Spread over the rest of the chocolate cream and cover with the rest of the dipped sponge fingers pressing down gently. Cover with clingfilm and foil. Chill in the fridge overnight.

To serve, turn out on to a plate. Softly whip the rest of the cream and spread over the top of the terrine. Decorate with chocolate curls.


Tuesday 17 May 2011

Oaty Rum Cookies

After a long day of dealing with 12 year olds, I fancied chilling out with some easy baking. I was debating about what to make when I remembered I had left sultanas soaking overnight in spiced rum to make cookies...2 weeks ago. So I thought I'd better use them...

100g Butter
100g Golden Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tsp of Cinnamon
100g Rolled oats
100g Wholemeal flour
1.5 tsp Baking powder
100g Sultanas (soaked in 25ml of spiced rum for a few hours/overnight/2 weeks)

Beat the sugar into the butter with an electric whisk until fluffy.
Beat in the cinnamon and eggs.
In another bowl, mix together the flour, oats, sultanas and baking powder.
Add to the butter mixture and mix together.
Drop heaped dessert spoonfuls, or a tablespoon if want big ones, onto a greased baking sheet.
Bake for about 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 160C
Cool on the tray for a minute or two then transfer to a cooling rack.
Serve with.....do I really have to finish this sentence?


Tuesday 10 May 2011

Fig Tart

The blogger challenge this month over at Belleau Kitchen was 'Just Desserts'. Considering the amount I bake I dont actually own any pure dessert books so as instructed I picked from the books that had desserts in and then randomly picked a recipe from one of those.

The book I ended up picking was Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets. 

Now anybody who follows Raymond Blanc's recent programme or owns this book will know this book contains the quite legendary Piece Montee croquembouche, a literal mountain of choux pastry, caramel and spun sugar....fortunately I didnt land on this *breathes a sigh of relief* and instead I landed on his Fig Tart....

Fig Tart
250g Plain Flour
75g Icing Sugar
pinch of salt
120g unsalted butter (diced at room temp)
2 egg yolks
1-2 tsp cold water

150g Blackcurrants
150g Semi Dried figs 9stalks removed)
100g Fig Jam
12 Fresh Figs

50g Fig Jam

Pastry Case
In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, salt together.
Make a well and add the yolks and water
Mix together in concentric circles using your finger tips to bring together into a soft dough.
Remove 30g and wrap in clingfilm for later.
Roll into a cylinder and cut in half.
Squash each half into a circle 2cm thick and wrap up with clingfilm.
Rest one in the fridge for 30 minutes, the other can be frozen for future use.

Place the rested dough on a  large sheet of cling film and place another sheet over it. (this rolling out method is brilliant by the way)

Roll out the pastry in the cling film in a circle shape to about 0.3cm thick.
Remove and discard the top sheet of cling film.

Place a tart ring on a flat baking sheet covered with baking paper.
Drap the pastry into the tart ring by lifting the closest two corners of the clingfilm and inverting into the ring.
Use the little piece of pastry to mould into the ring.
Use a rolling pin to take off the excess around the edges and then push up the pastry above the edge by 2mm to compensate for shrinkage.

Rest for up to an hour in the fridge.
Preheat the oven and abaking stone or a heavy baking tray to 170 C.
Slide the pastry case off the tray onto the stone/tray and bake for 25 minutes.
Remove and brush with egg white.
Leave to cool.

Have a cup of tea and breathe.

Puree the soft figs in a food processor.
Crush the blackberries.
Mix both soft figs and blackberries in a bowl with the fig jam.
Pour into the cooled tart case and spread out evenly.
Quarter or half your figs and lay out in circles from the middle outwards.
Bake for 25 minutes at 170C.
Remove and cool.

Melt the jam and brush over the figs.

Serve sprinkled with Icing sugar and a dollop of creme fraiche.

Verdict: Absolutley delicious, lovely contrast between sweet figs and the sharpness of the blackberries alongside the lovely crumbly pastry. An excellent recipe to try if you want to test yourself in terms of pastry and the new techniques I have picked up will be very useful indeed.

Monday 9 May 2011

Tomato and Chorizo Sauce

A recent conversation with a friend of mine about a pasta sauce he made up recently got me thinking, he stated the key to it was making it very slowly to draw out all the flavour, most of the pasta sauces I make take about 10 minutes so being inspired by this I went home and had a go at making my own. (the chicken thighs in this dish are entirely optional)

1 Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
50g chorizo, chopped into small pieces
50g of sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
250g Passata
150ml Water
good splash of red wine
1 tbsp olive oil.
Salt and black Pepper

2 chicken thighs (if using)
1 tbsp olive oil
Black pepper

Prepare all the ingredients
If using the Chicken, then bush with oil and grind over some black pepper. roast in the oven at 190C for 20 minutes.
Gently heat the oil in a frying pan and gently cook the garlic for 1 minute, Do not burn.
Add the onion, Chorizo and sun dried tomatoes.
Cook very gently for 15-20 minutes, do not brown the onions and stir occasionally. No more than a very tiny sizzle should be heard.
Transfer to a saucepan, again on a gentle heat with the Passata and water.
Turn up the heat on the frying pan.
Remove the chicken from the oven and place skin side down in the frying pan, rock the chicken and brown on all sides, add to the saucepan.
Pour a good glug of the wine into the frying pan to deglaze, pour into the saucepan.
Season the sauce to taste
Simmer on a low heat for 25 minutes.
The sauce is done when it resembles lava glooping in the pan and is reduced by about half.

Serve with pasta, new potatoes, however you like.


Simple Chocolate Cake

Anybody can bake, its easy, simply follow the basic rules to whatever you are making and you really can't go wrong.

A request came in today from the Head of Department for a few cakes for the last lesson with the year 11's, before they leave, preferably a chocolate one and who am I to turn down an opportuinty to bake when I should be working....

This recipe is a standard recipe for a no frills speedy chocolate sponge cake. Dom at Belleau Kitchen did a post similar to this recently here.

So anyway the rules, unfortunatly baking is not someting you can randomly throw ingredients in until it tastes nice but they are fairly simple so if you follow them you will be fine.

  • Each ingredient weighs the same. If you use 100g of flour then use 100g of the other ingredients
    • 1 egg = average weight is 50g
  • Dont overbeat, when its smooth and all combined then stop.
  • Line your tin, however annoying it might be to do its more annoying when its stuck to the tin when you try and take it out.
  • Do not open your oven part way through the allotted cooking time, just don't not under any circumstances, your cake will sink in the centre and look a bit rubbish, wait until at least two thirds of the time has passed.
Simple chocolate sponge
190g Self Raising flour
10g Cocoa powder
200g Butter
200g Caster Sugar
4 Eggs

Weigh out and combine all ingredients in a bowl, beat with an electric whisk until smooth.
Divide equally between two lined 8 inch cake tins.
Level out the mixture in the tin with the back of a spoon.
Place in a pre heated oven at 190C for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from oven and tin and cool on a wire rack.
Decorate however you like

It really is as easy as that.

I decorated the above cake by beating 80g of butter with 155g of icing sugar and 5g of cocoa powder until combined and then sandwiched the two cakes together before sprinkling on icing sugar.

So go on then what are you waiting for.