Saturday, 29 December 2012


Spätzle dough

Spätzle is always fried in butter, but toasted breadcrumbs give an extra delicate crunch.

Freshly cooked spätzle
Spätzle is a good carbohydrate to mop up thick sauces with

Use approximately 100g of plain flour per person, and 1 egg for every 3 people as a general guidelines...

Add a dash of salt to your flour, and add the egg.
Mix with your hand of a spatula until you have a soft and slightly (but not too) wet dough. If you were using a food processor, use the dough hook.
Remember you can always add more flour or tepid water to get the perfect consistency.

Using a spätzle press, press the dough immediately into boiling water. When the spätzle has risen to the top, it is cooked... this usually takes half a minute to a minute. Immediately drain and pat dry.

With some seasoned melting salted butter in a pan, add breadcrumbs and toss the spätzle in it until it is crisped and golden.

What is spätzle?
Spätzle are a sort of pasta/noodle/dumpling originating from the Alsace region of Germany. Its often served topped with melted cheese

Our Christmas Dinner

Iceberg lettuce with  celeriac remoulade, dressed grated carrot and apple*, radish and tomato

Red cabbage with balsamic and apple*

Wild boar and venison goulash with chestnuts*, onions and carrots

Freshly made spätzle

Chestnut jam, chestnut jam glazed mousse topped with crumbled toasted walnuts* and a morceau of orange and almond cake

*all items marked with an asterisk were foraged (mostly from Baden-Baden, Germany)

Orange and almond cake

Orange and almond cake

*sizing is not accurate; the orange is definitely not that big

This cake is an easy wheat-free bake, perfect as a light end to a meal.
a large unwaxed orange
125g ground almonds
3 eggs, separated
75g sugar
Preheat the oven to 200C and butter a cake tin.
In a large saucepan on medium heat with a few tablespoons of water, put the orange in, cover, and leave to simmer for about half an hour, or until the orange has softened considerably.
When the orange has softened, dry it and blitz it. Although the pith has a lot of fibre, it can give a slightly bitter taste.
In one bowl whisk the whites of the eggs until you have soft peaks.
In another bowl, beat the yolks and the sugar until the volume of the yolks has doubled.
Add the ground almonds and orange mixture to the sugar/yolk mix until thorougly combined.
Gradually, add the egg whites, but be careful to not knock out the air you have obtained.
Pour into the cake tin from a low height. If you pour it from high, air is lost from the mixture.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and when the cake is pricked, the fork comes out clean or with a few crumbs.
Add baking powder for a higher rise in the cake.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, juice 4 large oranges. Reduce the juice in the pan till it is slightly more syrupy. Prick the cake with a fork several times, and drizzle the orange reduction over it. When you prick the cake, it absorbs more of the liquid.

Chestnut glazed mousse

Chestnut glazed mousse

Chestnut glazed mousse

350ml crème fraîche
400ml fromage frais
2 tbsp caster sugar (use icing sugar if you prefer a finer mixture)
a vanilla pod

half a jar of homemade chestnut jam

Whisk together the crème fraîche, fromage frais, caster sugar, and the seeds from the vanilla pod until you have a smooth mixture.
Generously decant into several pots- small jam jars would look nice.

In a small saucepan, heat the jam over a medium heat. When it has melted, pour it over the creamy mixture. However if your chestnut jam is more of a purée, immediately pour over the creamy mixture.

For extra lightness, whisk egg whites and add to the mix.
For a richer mixture, replace some of the crème fraîche and fromage frais for double cream.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Almond Tart with a Spiced Sauce

Possibly one of the crumbliest pastries ever?

Buttery and flakey!

Tart and sauce

It looks a tiny bit like a Crema Catalana...


150g plain flour
140g diced unsalted butter
35g caster sugar

Almond Mixture
110g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
3 eggs
70ml double cream
30ml milk

3 teaspoons of camp ( a coffee and chicory essence)
1/4 teaspoon of cinammon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
40ml double cream
20 ml milk

Preheat a fan oven to 200°C, and butter some tins for the tarts- I used Yorkshire pudding tins which are quite flat, but give a very even bake.

Stir the flour and sugar together and rub in the butter until you have a crumble mixture. As this dough is very buttery, it probably won't need any liquid, but if it does, use an egg yolk or a few drops of milk.
Cover the ball of pastry dough in clingfilm, and leave to harden in the fridge.

Whisk together all the ingredients of the almond mixture until it is thoroughly combined and it has increased in volume slightly.

Roll the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of about 0.75 cm.
Cut the pastry into shapes, place in their tins, and prick the pastry bases a couple of times.
Give the almond mixture another quick whisk in case the ingredients have separated, and pour into the lined tart cases. Pour the mixture to the same height as the pastry, or even a bit higher.
Bake in the oven until the almond mixtures have set and turned a golden colour.
Turn the tarts out onto a wire rack and leave to cool down.

Whilst the tarts are cooling down, mix together the cream, milk and camp.
Add the spices to the liquid and beat.
Pour the mixture into a presentable jug.

Serve the tart warm with the sauce as a dessert, or with a summer fruits compote for breakfast.

use chestnut flour in the pastry to make the tart even more nutty!
add poached cherries to the almond mixture
swap some of the ground almonds for polenta
add a drop (or two) of rum to the sauce

Orange and Armagnac Scones

Orange and armagnac scones

Ideal as a Christmas Eve treat


5 tablespoons of armagnac
10 tablespoons of raisins
the zest of two large Valencian oranges
235g plain flour
55g unsalted butter
35g muscovado sugar (caster is fine but muscovado gives a toffee-like flavour)
a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
milk (at least 120 ml)

a beaten egg

The night before you want* (*aim) to eat the scones, leave the raisins to soak in a cup of armagnac.

The following day, preheat a fan oven to 200°C and grease a baking sheet with a knob of salted butter.
In a reasonably sized bowl, rub together the flour and butter until you have a crumble like mixture.
Mix the sugar and the zest into the flour/butter.
Take the raisins out of the armagnac and gently pat dry- you don't want to squeeze out all of the juice, but you want to get rid of most of it.
Stir the raisins into the mixture, and once thoroughly combined, add the milk slowly.
Whilst you add the milk, continue mixing the scone dough. I use my hands, but its fine to use a spoon.
You want to achieve a soft dough and slightly sticky dough.

On a floured surface, gently tip out the scone mixture.
Roll the dough to an even thickness and use the cutters to press out shapes. Circle cutters are traditionally used, but for a minimalist scone I would suggest square cutters.
On your buttered tray, lay your scone shapes evenly spaced.
Brush your scones with the beaten egg, and bake in the oven for about 14 minutes- or until they have risen and the tops are golden.

Serve warm with marmalade and cream.

change the unsalted butter and raisins for salted butter, and served with an espresso chantilly
swap the raisins and sugar for manchego and rosemary