Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Porky's (NW1)

Pulled pork, cheese, fried eggs (in a muffin) and AMAZING hash browns - £6.95
Imagine the scene... It's a chilly winter's Sunday morning in Camden and it's raining. You're hungry. You're with six other people, including two children under ten. It's not quite the right time for Lebanese flat breads or Spanish churros. It's also a bit too early for nitrogen ice cream. Well never fear, Porky's is near.
Situated on Chalk Farm road, Porky's is not enveloped by the crowds of tourists flocking to Cyberdog, but it's still not entirely off the radar of the affluent north London familias. At ten thirty in the morning, every table in the cramped restaurant was being used, except for our one. We are placed in the cosy outside* area by a good-looking Nordic model. It's warm and the benches are not too uncomfortable.
"What's on the menu?" cries aged 4. "Are there pancakes?" aged 8 pipes up. "Don't like it" announces aged 4. (Bear in mind she'd just been deprived a doughnut.)
Straight-faced, the tall, Nordic model comes to take our order. Several of the dishes on the menu consist of an English muffin, fried egg, hash browns and some sort of meat, and at £6.95 I'm not complaining.
The pulled pork (my chosen meat) is tender and, well, pulled. It works nicely with the melted cheese and the runny egg yolk. The hash browns are delicious... Crispy and crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, this is how hash browns should be.
The others are disappointed with their sausages in the Full English (chose the wrong dish, my friend), but the mushrooms are good (Full English ) and the bacon's alright (Muffin with bacon and sausage). Aged 8 is impressed, not least because of the saloon-style bathrooms.
Porky's is a nice place to have American/bbq-influenced food, but if you like to read the weekend papers with your breakfast, I suggest you find somewhere with more space. The meal's good, staff are okay, but aged 4 still wants a doughnut, so we head to Tesco.

*It's outside in the sense that you're sitting in a conservatory made with corrugated glass.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Chocolate and chestnut cake

This is quite a bitter cake, perfect for an after dinner treat. It has quite a moussey texture thanks to the folded egg whites

400g whole cooked chestnuts
250g dark chocolate
150g unsalted butter
2 eggs, separated

100g dark chocolate
one orange - zest and juice
icing sugar, to taste
double cream, to taste

It's nearly Christmas already?!
Pulse the chestnuts until you have a fine crumb.
Melt the chocolate over a ban marie, and add the butter.

Melted chocolate.
Once melted, leave the chocolate/butter mixture to cool.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and add to the chocolate/butter liquid.
Whisk the egg whites.
Combine the chestnuts with your chocolate mixture, and beat in two tablespoons of the egg whites.
Gently fold the mixture into the rest of the egg whites.

The mixture.
Pour into two lined cake tins and leave to bake for half an hour.
The finished product should have a crumb when a skewer is inserted.

Melt the chocolate and add orange zest as well as the juice of an orange. I used clementines as I didn't have any oranges, but their flavour was not intense enough to cut through the orange.
Add icing sugar to taste. The cake is bitter, as is dark chocolate, so you need some sweetness!
Add double cream to thin the mixture, and dilute the intensity of the bitterness.

Spread onto the cake.

Serve a slice of cake with crème fraîche.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Banana and salted caramel cake

Yes banana is healthy, but when combined with copious amounts of butter, sugar and cream, the benefits are most probably cancelled out...

100g soft brown sugar
50g soft brown sugar
150g unsalted butter
250g plain flour
one teaspoon of cinnamon
half a teaspoon of ground ginger (optional)
half a teaspoon of nutmeg (optional)
one and a half teaspoons of baking powder
two eggs, beaten
one vanilla pod
three bananas, mashed
50 ml milk
a dash of orange juice

equal weights of butter and soft brown sugar (I used 100g of each and still had enough to fill a jar size 190g)
coarse sea salt - to taste
double cream

Preheat the oven to 200C and line two 18-20cm cake tins.

Lined tins.

Cream together the butter and sugar.
Deseed the vanilla pod, and add to the butter and sugar.
Gradually beat in the eggs to the butter and sugar - if you do it too quickly, the mixture will curdle and separate.
Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixture and whisk.
Then add all of the milk and orange juice, and whisk.
Once thoroughly combined, add the rest of the dry ingredients.
Add the mashed bananas to the mix and stir together.
Pour into the tins and cook for 30 - 40 minutes.


Salted caramel sauce.

Melt the sugar and butter in a sauce pan over a medium heat.
As soon as they have both fully melted, take off the heat.
Then add the salt and cream, and stir.
Leave aside to cool and thicken.
When lukewarm, drizzle onto the cake.

I topped the cake with extra pieces of cake.

For texture, you could add toasted walnuts to the mixture.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Caramel sauce

Some days you just need to indulge. Butter, sugar, butter, sugar, cream... probably not for the fainthearted! This ridiculously rich caramel sauce can be used for banoffee pie, to drizzle over ice cream, or to eat straight out of the jar. Don't tell anyone I said that.

To make 3 small jars:
150g unsalted butter
150g soft brown sugar
half a teaspoon sea salt
a dash of nutmeg
80ml double cream


Aside from the cream, chuck it all in a saucepan and leave on a medium heat to melt.
When the mixture it is about half melted, add the cream.
Stir the mixture every now and then, to make sure everything is melting.
Once you have a glossy mixture, take off the heat and leave to cool.
As it cools the mixture thickens, so place into sterilised jars once the mixture has cooled down a little.
Remember to seal jars, or a skin might form over the mixture.
This can be stored in the fridge for three days

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Pumpkin bites

I'm going to be honest with you. Until recently, I wasn't sure what you could really do with pumpkins, aside from pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, and the obligatory Halloween carved pumpkin. But I have been shown the light - no pun intended. There are over 15 different types of pumpkins, each with their own unique taste.
You have the sweeter varieties such as sugar pumpkins, small orange pumpkins best for puréeing and mashing, as well as the more salty/savoury ones, such as Japanese pumpkins which are dark green speckled with orange, and perfect for stir-frying.

When I made this recipe, I used the a small, orange "golden nugget" pumpkin, one of the most common types of pumpkin.

one small pumpkin
coarse sea salt
olive oil
sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 240C.
Deseed the pumpkin and cut into slices with thickness of around 1 cm.
Line a baking tray with tinfoil and place the pupkin slices.
Sprinkle the pumpkins with the salt.
Sprinkle the pumpkins with freshly ground nutmeg and cinnamon.
Drizzle the oil over the pumpkin slices, and pop in the oven for around 25 minutes.
When the pumpkin is soft to the touch it is ready to come out.

These are perfect warm with a dollop of soured cream, or cold, when you get a chewy, toffee-like texture.
If you are using sugar, sprinkle demerara sugar on the pumpkins during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Pumpkin soup and seeded honey bread

Roasted pumpkin #1

Pumpkin soup

one large pumpkin
olive oil
juice of half an orange
boiled potato (if you want the soup to go further)
light brown sugar
pepper - to season
orange juice
salt - to season
soured cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Cut a pumpkin in half and deseed. Set aside the seeds for the bread
Deeply score the pumpkin.
Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar over the pumpkin, then generously season with pepper and salt.
Drizzle the pumpkin with olive oil.
Bake in the oven until the pumpkin flesh is soft - this should take about 30-40 minutes.
Roasted pumpkin #2
Scoop out the pumpkin flesh, and blend with the orange juice, and potato if using. To thin the soup, you can add water, or preferably stock for extra flavour.
Serve with a dollop of soured cream.
Probably best to keep an eye on the soup when heating...
With a dollop (or two) or soured cream

For me, bread has always been one of those foods where the only quantities used are "a handful of this", "a dash of that", and "whatever looks right". Alternatively, start off with 50g flour per serving.

white or wholemeal flour, for a heartier loaf use rye flour
a teaspoon of yeast / 7g sachet
seeds, you can use the pumpkin seeds from earlier, along with sunflower seeds and sesame seeds
olive oil
warm water

Mix together the flour and the seeds.
Stir the yeast into an espresso-sized cup of warm water. It's important to add this to the mixture as soon as possible, because the yeast immediately reacts with the water, and is at its peak to work with the flour.
Pour the yeast water into the flour until you have a dough begins to come together.
Add oil to the dough-ish mixture until you have an only slightly sticky dough.
Flatten the mixture, and add the honey. I used about three teaspoons worth.
Fold the dough into an envelope shape, so all the honey is in the middle. Like a card if we're going to continue with the envelope metaphor.
Work the dough, and add more flour if it becomes to sticky.
Put in a lightly floured bowl, and cover with cling film.
Leave to rest in a warm place until the dough has doubled. This is usually about one hour.
Once the mixture has risen, work it... Knock the air out of the dough.
Then leave to rise again for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 220C.
Place the dough into a lightly oiled tin, or freeform on a baking tray.
Brush the dough with milk or beaten egg (for gloss) and sprinkle with salt.
Put in the oven.
After 20 minutes on 220C, turn the heat down to 180C. Cooking the bread for a short time on a high heat allows a crust to form, but if it is too high for too long the top of the bread will be burnt whilst the inside will be underbaked.
The bread should take about a further 40 minutes to cook. The bread is cooked if you hear a hollow sound when knocking the base.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Mini Carrot Cakes

Everybody loves Raymond? Everybody loves carrot cake. These gems are light and dairy-free (discounting the topping) and healthy enough to be a gym snack. Well, not quite. But nearly.

Fresh from the oven
The cakes were lining two by two hurrah, hurrah
one and a half medium-sized carrots, peeled and grated
caster sugar
rapeseed oil
olive oil
raisins (soaked overnight in whisky)
orange zest
orange juice
plain flour
baking powder
cream cheese
unsalted butter, softened (optional)
icing sugar
orange zest

One half with filling, the other half not...

Mix together the oil, sugar, flour and baking powder.
Once fully combined, add the orange juice, zest and raisins.
Fold in the grated carrots.
Pour into a greased baking tins, and cook at 180C for 35 minutes, or until a skewer can be inserted cleanly.
When baked, leave to cool in their tins for 5-10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
When the cakes get to room temperature, cut them in half using a serrated knife.

For the topping, if you're using butter, cream it with the sugar first, then add the orange zest and cream cheese.
If not using butter, gently fold the sugar and orange zest into the cream cheese.
Fill the cakes with the topping when they completely cool down - you don't want the icing to melt!
Serve with a cup of tea.

All together now...say cheese!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Apple bread and butter pudding

Bread and butter pudding
Let be honest, bread and butter pudding is a pretty great thing. It's warming, has custard and is ridiculously versatile - what's not to like? From substituting bread for croissants or brioche, flavouring the custard with coffee or chocolate and adding juicy liquor-soaked raisins, there's something for everyone. So for autumn, why not use up the glut of apples you bought for £1.50? This buttery, fruity recipe is meltingly delicious and perfect for those chilly autumn afternoons.

Buttered bread

bread* - I used rosemary and potato bread
butter, room temperature
2 egg yolks
150 ml double cream
100ml milk - you're using double cream and butter, so you might as well have full-fat**
100g sugar
2 apples, cored, peeled and evenly sliced
a big handful of raisins
dried apple, diced
more double cream, to taste
*it's best to use bread which is a couple of days old because it holds it shape hence not becoming soggy. As the Berry says, you don't want a soggy bottom...
**it's important to build up fat to insulate for the winter

The first layer
Soak the raisins overnight in the cognac. Before using, pat the raisins dry to get rid of excess moisture, and set the rest of the cognac aside for later.
Spread the sliced bread generously with butter. Unless you're dairy intolerant, there are no reasons why you should compromise and use margarine.

Jam-packed full of raisins
In a buttered and sugared tin**, layer the buttered bread with thickly sliced apples and raisins, similar to a dauphinoise. Repeat this until your baking tin is about three quarters full.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until your mixture has doubled in volume and become paler.

Heat the cream in a saucepan until it begins to bubble.
When the cream begins bubbling, take it off the heat and add the milk to it.
Once it has cooled down a bit, strain into the yolk/sugar mixture, whisking the whole time.◇◇

Sprinkling with sugar gives a brilliant toffee taste when cooked
When your baking tin is stuffed to the brim, liberally pour over with your custard.
Place in a preheated oven on 200C and bake for fifty-five minutes. When you take the pudding out, it should have puffed up and become golden and firm.
For the sauce, use the ratio of 1 part cognac to 2 parts cream.
In a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat, reduce the cognac until you have a thick glaze.
Add dried the dried apple and double cream to your reduced alcohol and on a low heat, let it cook for half a minute, and take off the heat.

I would suggest that you don't put raisins on top, because they will catc,. And burn.

Sprinkle the pudding with caster sugar and scorch with a blowtorch or grill for a crème brûlée touch.

Serve with lashings of sauce and a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

**Butter the tin as you would normally, then sprinkle sugar over. Shake out excess sugar so you have a fine sprinkling on all sides. This helps to caramelise the pudding, and adds to the toffee-apple taste.
◇◇ If your custard becomes scrambled eggs die to the cream being too hot or not whisking enough, strain the mixture through a sieve.


Thursday, 10 October 2013

Pimms Cake

For those of you who don't want to believe that summer is pretty much over, use your last drops of pimms to get yourself back into the summer 2013 mood.

Cake #1

PIMMS CAKE420g self-raising flour
400g sugar (I used a mixture of demerara and soft brown sugar)
two teaspoons of baking powder
120g unsalted butter, softened
200ml milk
strawberries, hulled and quartered
3 shots of Pimms

CREAM CHEEDE ICING250g cream cheese
40g unsalted butter, room temperature
350g icing sugar
one grapefruit, zest and juice

Cake #2
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Butter two cake tins, and line the bases (this is necessary because the syrawberries will stick).
Arrange the strawberries throughout the tins.
Mix all the dry ingredients together with the butter. When you get a crumble-like mixture, add the milk whilst continually beating.
When you have a batter, add the Pimms and completely stir.
Pour the cake mixture over the strawberries.
Put in the oven and turn the temperature down to 170C.
Check the cakes after 35 minutes, and as a general guide, take them out of the oven after 50 minutes.
Leave the cakes in their tins for 10 minutes, and then turn out to cool on a wire rack.

Cream the butter, sugar and grapefruit zest.
Add the grapefruit juice to the butter cream, and then the cream cheese.
Thoroughly mix, but be aware that too much mixing results in a flat liquid.
If your icing becomes too liquidy, you can add icing sugar of corn flour, but you don't want an icing which is too sweet or bland.

Autumn and Camus

I know, I know, I'm a terrible blogger. I haven't written for ages and, well, the blog's just a bit empty. There is a perfectly acceptable reason to my lack of posts; it's autumn! Autumn, you may cry, is one of those seasons where it doesn't quite know what it wants to do. Not quite winter, but definitely not summer- a bit like spring. Well, it definitely does know what it wants to do. It wants the leaves to become so crisp they crackle as you walk, it wants the wind to be brisk enough that you can wear gloves but not need a scarf. It wants you to start looking forward to the snow*.

Anyway, think of all the lovely produce in season...monkfish, pumpkins, game, apples, beetroots, wild mushrooms, celeriac, chestnuts. This season I will upload a tasty recipe using each one of these ingredients. Don't worry, it won't be all soups and crumbles- though you can't go wrong with either.

On other matters, this Camus' quote perfectly sums up my fridge at the moment.
'There was nothing but cheese'- Albert Camus

*If you're a Londoner, then it's the snow that comes in April.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Catalan style anchovies

This recipe is perfect for those hot summer days where you need something light and fresh to indulge in.

Liberally sprinkle fresh anchovy fillets with salt.
Leave to process for 2-12 hours.
Rinse the anchovies to get rid of salt and pat them dry.
Generously cover with olive oil, white wine vinegar, chopped garlic, Mediterranean herbs, lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper.
Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.

Serve with freshly cooked bread to mop up juices, and a glass of chilled white wine or rosé.

Make sure the anchovies are very fresh, to avoid food poisoning.
It is easier to fillet the anchovies if you put them in the freezer for half an hour before filleting.

Thank you to S for the delicious recipe.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Melon Soup

If you have a blender and a melon, there are absolutely no reasons why you should not be able to make this.

Single Cream

Deseed the melon and scoop the flesh into a blender.
Blitz the melon into a juice.
Add the cream to the melon whilst pureeing.
Serve chilled with Serrano ham.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


Serves 6

1.5kg big tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 large green pepper
1 thick slice of bread, no crust - this gives texture and consistency
1 clove of garlic
Cup of olive oil
Teaspoon of caster sugar
3 or 4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
Dash of salt

Freshly picked tomatoes from B's garden
Score crosses at both ends of all the tomatoes.
Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute, then put into iced water to stop them cooking.
Peel the skins and deseed. This gives the gazpacho a smooth texture.
Peel the skins of the cucumber, and deseed half of it.
Chop the cucumber and pepper, and blend with everything else.
Serve with ice cubes and a drizzle of chilli oil.

Thank you S for this recipe.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Baked chocolate mousse

BAKED CHOCOLATE MOUSSE300g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
150g unsalted butter
6 eggs, separated
60g icing sugar
Sea salt

Use sifted icing sugar and a template to create a pattern of your choice. We used a (clean) fly swat, although it looks a little like a wine glass...

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Melt together the chocolate and butter in a bain marie, then add sea salt to taste. I used 5 grinds.
Beat the egg yolks and half of the sugar for one minute, then add to the chocolate/butter mixture.
Whisk the egg whites until you get soft peaks, then gradually add the rest of the sugar until you get stiff peaks.
Fold a third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and then pour the mixture back into the egg whites. Don't pour from a height, because you'll lose the air you managed to trap.
Pour into your tin, and cook for 20 minutes (or a little less for a fondant type filling).

Serve with ice cream or white chocolate mousse, and a glass of nicely chilled Rivesalte wine.

Adapted from James Martin's Desserts

Wednesday, 14 August 2013


Imagine forests next to beaches next to mountains, and you're in the autonomous region of Catalunya (Catalan spelling). At the moment it is quite hot here - especially considering it's about 5C cooler in the mountains!
Turn on the grill.
Put the kippers on a foiled baking tray
Halve tomatoes, put them on the kippers, and then season with pepper and salt.
Cook for five minutes, and serve with lemon and bread. We had poppyseeded pain de campagne.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Eton Mess

This pud is ridiculously simple but rewarding EVERY time...


meringues (crispy meringues are better than chewy meringues)
icing sugar, to taste
double cream

As a general rule, I use 600ml double cream for every 10 meringues.

Whisk the cream, and add icing sugar as soon as it reaches soft peaks, until you get stiff peaks.
Break up the meringues- chunky pieces are good!
Fold in the broken meringues, and then the fruits.
Serve with a sprig of mint.

Add some Pimms and finely chopped basil when you have whipped the cream.
Use custard instead of cream, and freeze for Eton Mess ice cream.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Gooey and indulgent chocolate cake

250g dark chocolate (use milk chocolate for a fudgier taste)
250g unsalted butter
200g sugar - I used a mixture of soft brown sugar, caster sugar, and muscovado sugar
50g cocoa powder
4 eggs, separated

sea salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 160C, and line a tray/tin with salted butter.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain marie, then set aside.
Beat the egg yolks, sugar and cocoa powder until thoroughly combined.
Add the mixture to the chocolate/butter mixture.
Whisk the egg whites until you get stiff peaks, then fold into the other mixture.
Pour into the tray/tin.
If you're adding the salt, sprinkle a little over the top.
Pop into the oven for 30 minutes - or until a fork comes out clean.
When cooked, leave in the tin for 5 minutes (to hold its shape), then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
Serve with chantilly.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Potato salad

1.5kg potatoes (I would use New Potatoes or Jersey Royals)
a handful of finely chopped dill and parsley
a teaspoon of chopped chives
3 teaspoons of mustard
a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
pepper and salt (to season)

MAYONNAISE3 egg yolks
vegetable oil
olive oil (extra virgin is preferable)

Peel the potatoes and cut into small chunks.
Rinse the potatoes to get rid of excess starch. This is what makes the potatoes sticky and glutinous.
Boil the potatoes over a medium heat for 30 minutes (or until you can put a fork in easily).
When the potatoes are cooked, rinse them in cold water to stop them cooking.

Beat the egg yolks until you have a liquid.
Whilst whisking, add a little vegetable oil.  You must add it gradually so that the mixture does not separate.
Continue whisking and add some olive oil.
Repeat this until it looks like mayonnaise and you have the amount you need.

Add the mustard, herbs, vinegar, and pepper and salt to the mayonnaise, and whisk until thoroughly combined.
Toss among the potatoes and serve immediately.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Maple syrup and parsnip cake

This cake could not be classified as healthy, even though if you eat enough of it you will have several of your five-a-day. Unfortunately, the benefits of the apple, parsnip, lime and orange are cancelled out by the devilish amounts of butter, sugar and syrup- but everyone needs to spoil themselves occasionally (regularly in my case). Thoroughly indulgent, this moist treat could tempt even the most stringent of carbophobes!

Maple syrup and parsnip cake

CAKE170g butter
240g soft brown sugar
90ml maple syrup
3 eggs
230g self-raising flour
half a teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
half a teaspoon of nutmeg/ground ginger (optional)
one and a half teaspoons of baking powder (to give an extra lift)
one apple, grated
3 parsnips, grated (about 250g when prepared)
2 shots of whisky
zest of a large orange

maple syrup
zest and juice of 2 limes (or to taste... you want the acidic lime to cut through the blandness of the cheeses)

Preheat the oven to 200C and grease two 23cm baking tins.
Over a low-to-medium heat, melt the sugar, butter, whisky and maple syrup together. Once thoroughly melted and combined, set aside to cool down slightly.
Beat the eggs and slowly add into the cooled mixture.
Whisk the dry ingredients into the mixture, then the rest if the ingredients.
Pour into the cases and put into the oven.
After 10 minutes in the oven, turn the heat down to 180C.
The cakes should be cooked after around 35 minutes, but check the cakes with a fork after 25 minutes.
When the cakes have cooked, leave them in their tins for 5 minutes (to keep their shape), and then turn out onto wire racks to cool down.

Maple syrup and parsnip cake

Beat the marscapone until the volume begins to increase.
Then beat in the maple syrup.
Add the ricotta and the lime juice, and whisk until you get a smooth, creamy and sweet mixture.
Once the cakes have cooled down, top them with the icing.

..Try to put your mixture in the oven as soon as you can once you've added the baking power, as it immediately reacts with the wet ingredients.
..You could decorate the cake with walnuts or pecans.

Maple syrup and parsnip cake

Adapted from Catherine Berwick's Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake

Friday, 10 May 2013

Banana and butterscotch fool

Bananas, grown in 107 countries (according to Wikipedia), have the 4th highest monetary value in food (after rice, wheat and corn). In 2011, India produced 29.7 million tonnes of bananas (20% of the world's production) (also according to Wikipedia).When I made this dish, it was purely to use up a few overripe bananas, but it became SO much more... It's moreish and indulgent, yet light, as well as tasting just like bannoffee pie - which can only be a good thing. In the highly unlikely possibility that you have butterscotch left over, serve with ice cream for a knickerbocker glory, or with stewed apples.

Banana and butterscotch fool

 BANANA FOOLfour overripe bananas (just because their skin is speckled or brown, it doesn't mean the bananas are too ripe- especially if you're blending them!)
350ml double cream
100g marscapone/ ricotta
a few tablespoons of caster sugar (how much you use depends on the sweetness of the banana)

BUTTERSCOTCH200g soft brown sugar/ caster sugar
150g salted butter, cubed
200ml double cream
Banana and butterscotch fool

Blitz the bananas until smooth and set aside.
Whip the cream into soft peaks, then stir in the sugar until thoroughly combined.
Turn the whisk back on and add the marscapone (be careful the mixture doesn't splash up everywhere, unless you want your kitchen redecorated...)
Mix in the blitzed banana, and set the mixture aside.

Banana and butterscotch fool

In a medium-sized saucepan, put the sugar in on a low-to-medium heat.
If the mixture starts bubbling at the sides, add the butter onto the sugar, and start to stir.
Continue stirring until all the butter has melted, and the sugar has completely dissolved into it.
Take the mixture off the heat, and stir in the cream. Even if it looks like the cream is separating from the mixture, continue stirring until it combines.

In individual ramekins, layer the banana mixture, then the butterscotch, then banana mixture then butterscotch. I layered it up whilst the butterscotch is still warm, though not really hot (so the mixture is liquid enough to drizzle over and set).
Leave in the fridge until ready to be served.
Just before eating, top with flaked almonds.

Banana and butterscotch fool
Or, you could...
crumble amaretti or gingernut biscuits on top just before serving.
add a bottom of espresso-soaked biscuits.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Toasted walnut and gruyère biscotti

Toasted walnut and gruyère biscotti 
BISCOTTI150g plain flour
half a teaspoon of baking powder
dash of salt (because cheese provides a lot of saltiness)
2 small/medium eggs, beaten
70g whole walnuts
70g gruyère cheese, grated
a teaspoon of worcestershire sauce

Preheat the oven to 200C, and turn a pan onto medium heat.
In the pan, toast the walnuts for about 5 minutes, but be careful not to burn them! Constantly move them.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and worcestershire sauce.
Then add the eggs, mixing with the fork until you get a good dough. You don't want the mixture to be wet, so add more flour if it needs it.
Roughly chop the walnuts into smaller chunks (discarding any burnt bits), and add to the dough.
Also add the cheese to the dough and combine by hand. Or do it all by food processor. But cooking like this is healthy! It's exercise! Cans of beans for weights, whisking egg whites for toning, and kneading for stamina. It's cheaper than a gym membership too!

Toasted walnut and gruyère biscotti
Divide the dough into two and shape into rolls.
Press down on the rolls so that you have fat, flat, long rolls (approx, and I mean approx 1.5cm x 5cm x 15cm)
Put them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and 2 minutes before you put them in the oven, turn the oven down to 180C.
Leave to cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
When you take the biscotti out, cut it diagonally (it looks nice) with a serrated knife.
Put these slices back into the oven on the slightly lower temperature of 170C to cook for a further fifteen minutes. You want to dry the biscotti out a bit.

Serve with a nut dip, or a soup.
I would personally serve with a fresh chunky yet smooth blend of cashews and salted/honey roasted peanuts (blitz them together in a food processor) or guacamole, or French onion soup.

Peanut dip
You could:
add diced black olives/ serve with a tapenade
use sundried tomatoes instead of walnuts
use parmigiano reggiano
make a 'quattro formaggi' biscotti with 4 different cheeses

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Pea and leek risotto

Many people think that risottos are rich, creamy, savoury, calorie-laden rice puddings for which you have to laboriously slave over the stove for an hour or more. NOT TRUE. Many people think that it's dinner party food. NOT (necessarily) TRUE. Maybe I'm just projecting all of my previous risotto-related thoughts onto the third person. But whatever. NOT TRUE.

Pea and leek risotto

2 leeks, sliced - about 1cm widths, peppered
150g frozen peas
a few handfuls of spinach
lots of streaky bacon, chopped - I use oak smoked for a deeper flavour
some chunks of ham
250g risotto rice
700ml chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 190C. I use a fan oven.
In a pan, on medium heat, pour in a healthy glug of oil.
When hot (the oil rolls around the pan easily), add the bacon and fry for two minutes.
Then turn the heat down a little and add the leeks.
Whilst the leeks are cooking, prepare the chicken stock (dissolve a cube). If you're using homemade chicken stock, I applaud you!
After the leeks have softened (about 5-6 minutes), add the risotto rice- I use arborio.
After 1 minute, cover with the chicken stock, cover with tinfoil and leave in the oven for 25 minutes.
About half-way through stir the risotto, recover with tinfoil, and pop back in the oven.
After 15 minutes (or until the rice has soaked up all of the moisture), add the peas and ham, and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Once cooked, stir in the cream cheese and mozzarella. ET VOILA.

Serve with wilted spinach and a glass of chablis.

Swap some of the chicken stock for pea and ham soup.
Add mint.
Use double cream/ soured cream/ gran padano/ parmesan instead of cream cheese and mozzarella.
Serve topped with crispy leeks and onions.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

To be honest, there aren't many things you can do with an overripe pineapple. So I was thinking, why not do something using the excess sweetness and slight alcohol tint to complement something which is perfectly nice on its own, but could do with a bit of spicing up.
It's paramount to have fluffy egg whites, because juice from the pineapple drips into the cake (like a tarte tatin) making it a bit wet, and therefore making an otherwise light dessert, dense.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Serves 6

1 small pineapple, cut into chunks
3 eggs separated
150g slightly salted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
150g plain flour (you can add baking powder for an extra lift)
a few spoonfuls of muscovado sugar
caster sugar to water in the units of 1:3 (respectively)
a teaspoon of chilli flakes

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Preheat your oven to 200C and grease a cake tin.
Beat together the egg yolks and sugar until you get a smooth, creamy consistency.
Stir in the flour until you get a sort of wet crumble-looking mixture. Yes it should look like that.
Beat in the softened butter until you have a more typical cake mixture.
Then, whisk the egg whites until they're stiff like meringues.
When you add the egg whites to the rest of the mixture, don't add it from a height or you'll lose some of the air.
Stir the mixtures together until fully combined and you have a fluffy mixture. Yum.
Turn the oven down to 180C as you're nearly to put the cake in.
Put the pineapple in the cake tin, neat and evenly spaced, or dropped in (authentic).
Evenly sprinkle muscovado (or another dark brown sugar, maybe treacle) over the pineapple. This creates a kind of caramel, nuttifying the pineapple.
Completely cover the pineapple with cake mixture, and put in the oven for 40 minutes or until a fork comes out of the cake with a few crumbs. Check the cake at 35 minutes though.
When cooked, turn the cake out and leave to cool- if you leave it in the tin, it continues cooking, drying the cake out.
Over a medium heat, bring caster sugar and cold water to the boil in a saucepan.
Then turn the heat down, add the chilli flakes, and continuously stir until ALL of the sugar is dissolved.
Strain the syrup and leave to cool to remember.
The longer you boil the syrup, the thicker it will be.
Syrup keeps for one month in a sealed container.
Serve a slice of cake with a drizzle of chilli.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
In the syrup I used chilli flakes instead of fresh chilli because I didn't want too strong a flavour.