Tag Archives: Dessert

10 of my favourite online recipes

I have recipes everywhere. In cookbooks, scribbled on pieces of paper, cut out from magazines and bookmarked online and then there’s the ones that just exist in my head. I subscribe to a ton of food blogs through Google Reader which I look over while I down my morning coffee. My favourite food blogs currently have to be:

Joy The Baker – the mother of all baking food blogs
The Pioneer Woman Cooks – delicious cowgirl food
The Pink Whisk – previous runner-up of Great British Bake Off, step my step recipes and techniques
Food Stories – makes food you really want to eat. Also has a separate sandwich rating blog
Domestic Diva M.D – super entertaining with recipes too
A Cozy Kitchen – awesome food photography and recipes

I’ve just been dribbling over the home pages of these whilst retrieving the links for you. Anyway, I find that subscribing to blogs is a great way of coming across yummy new recipes which you won’t find on websites like BBC food although they are great go to’s for recipes as well. Thanks to satellite television, I can also watch recipes being made at almost any hour of the day. And with the invention of Pinterest I can also be constantly looking at pictures of food. Frankly, it’s enough to make you fat.

Another great online tool is Delicious which is where I keep all my bookmarked recipes. You can tag links as you like and since they’re all stored on the web, you can access your bookmarks anywhere from any device. I have almost 500 recipe links saved and unlike a chef’s cookbook, all of the recipes are things I know I’ve seen and liked. Here are 10 of my favourite recipes which are available online and that I’ve previously bookmarked, cooked, eaten and LOVED then cooked, eaten and LOVED again!

1. Nigella’s Mexican Lasagne

A recent addition that’s already been made and enjoyed a few times! Absolutely scrumptious and innovative recipe which uses flour tortillas to create a Mexican lasagne. I adapt the recipe my adding beef mince before the canned tomatoes but the unadulterated recipe is great for vegetarians.

2. Joy The Baker’s Polenta

I’d never ever heard of adding milk to polenta until I’d seen this and now I always make it this way. Plus I love using American cup measures – so much easier.

3. Heston’s Ultimate Mashed Potato

There aren’t many Heston Blumenthal recipes you can make on a regular basis but here is one! I think I’ve mentioned this recipe at least twice on my blog already but it… is… goooooood! I don’t have a thermometer or a potato ricer (family take note, Christmas is coming :-)) but I can still make this easily. The amount of butter required is a little alarming, but one taste and you know it’s worth it.

4. Ottolenghi’s Vegetable Paella

Another vegetarian recipe which I’ve made meaty by adding fried chorizo in at the end! Great served with some olive bread and a platter of Manchego and Serrano ham.

5. BBC Good Food Chicken Cacciatore

A really quick and inexpensive midweek recipe of chicken in a tomato and mascarpone sauce. The simple sauce is tasty over pasta too.

6. Delia’s Dhal Curry

Super cheap, healthy and vegetarian (I haven’t added meat to this one!) recipe for a dhal curry. Mr B. even liked it despite the lack of meat which means it must be a good recipe. You can add a Nann bread on the side if you want to.

7. Antony Worrall-Thomspon Goat’s Cheese and Roasted Vegetable Terrine 

Unlike Antony I don’t thieve the cheese from my local Tesco to make this! A really nice make-ahead recipe which works well as a dinner-party starter. Looks pretty impressive when served as well.

8. Nigella’s Mustard Pork Chops 

Really easy and cheap midweek meal. I use honey mustard instead of wholegrain as I found that a bit too strong in taste. Goes really well with the gnocchi that Nigella recommends as well as some buttery spinach… which I recommend!

9. Joy The Baker’s Pull Apart Cinnamon Bread

I mean, just look at it! You’re in trouble of eating your laptop screen aren’t you? I’ve made it. It was amazing. When I went to bookmark it on a social media site, I saw that 2 million others had done so before me!

10. Lorraine Pascale’s Honeycomb

Simples. Tasty. Versatile. The recipe works every time.

Happy bookmarking and cooking.

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How to… do Petits Fours

I love petits fours for two reasons. One, they are rather posh! And two, sometimes three courses just aren’t enough and a chocolatey soupçon with coffee (which I also love!) is very welcome.

You don’t need to be a French pastry chef to make petits fours, nor do you need to rush out to Harrods to buy too-pretty-to-eat bite-sized desserts. Here is how I made them at home – inspired by Margots restaurant in Padstow where I like to gorge on their sticky toffee pudding prior to getting onto their petits fours.

First and foremost, it’s good to have something chocolatey in your petits fours mix. Margots serves homemade chocolate fudge with theirs so that’s what I went for too. You have two options when making fudge. You can make it properly using liquid glucose syrup or you can go for a bit of a cheat version (like I did) and use condensed milk. It takes 10 minutes to make this way and just needs to set overnight in the fridge. Simples.

I used this Kirstie Allsop recipe, though Nigella has a similar recipe with pistachio nuts. It stores well in the freezer and can be eaten as a melt-in-your-mouth sweet for months afterwards. You can also chop it into ice cream or pop into cellophane bags and give as Christmas gifts. The possibilities are endless!

Anyway, back to the petits fours…. you can make vanilla or traditional fudge if you prefer. Or you could make your own chocolate truffles or salted caramel bites even. Mmm!

To compliment the rich chocolate, it’s nice to serve something fruity. I used dark chocolate for my fudge, which goes well with forest fruits, so a handful of fresh and a few glacé cherries is what I opted for. Chocolate also goes well with strawberries, raspberries and figs.

Caramelised walnuts also work well with the chocolate and were the next component to my lil’ platter. Again, they are easy to make, caramelised hazelnuts would make a nice alternative.

Finally, I put Palmiers biscuits onto my platter. I’m slightly obsessed with these little things. If you’re patient enough to make puff pastry you can make them yourself really easily too. Palmiers go very well with all of the other petits fours ingredients as well as coffee. Equally you could serve amaretti or biscotti, which would be yummy with truffles instead of fudge.

Then it’s just a case of making sure that you and your guests save yourself some room to eat them!

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Herman the German Friendship Cake

Someone gave me a Herman. Nothing dodgy… it’s a sourdough mix which you ‘feed’ and stir over 10 days before using the mix to make a cake. You actually make a cake with just a ¼ of the mix and give the other ¾ to 3 friends for them to make their own Hermans. It’s the noughties answer to a chain letter!

When I first received Herman I wasn’t all too sure to be honest. He was exploding out of the Tupperware and they’d be a bit of leakage! Was this really going to end up a scrummy cake? And how much effort was this going to be?

True to my word I kept and fed my Herman with milk, sugar and flour and the end result was really moreish and although it took 10 days, it was minimal effort. I shared the cake with a group of friends who snaffled it in record time whilst referring to it as ‘love cake’!

You can read more about Herman on this website http://www.hermanthegermanfriendshipcake.com/

Herman the German Friendship Cake
Don’t worry if you haven’t received a Herman mix as you can make your own really easily. Click here for instructions on how to make the starter mix and also how to grow your mix once you have received or made it!

My Herman
I pimped my Herman slightly before baking. Here’s what I added:
– 200g Glace Cherries, halved (most delicious things EVER, why haven’t I used them before?!)
– Small handful of Hazlenuts
– 100g dark chocolate chips
– Small handful of Walnut halves

I also left the suggested apples out of the cake as I didn’t fancy them and I used Vanilla extract instead of essence. Finally, try and bake your Herman in a large cake tin. Since it’s such a moist mix Herman will take longer to cook in a deep tin.

Then simply share the love by passing Herman on!

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Vanilla and Pistachio Ice Cream Sundae with Caramel Sauce

I’d love to say this kid’s dream of a dessert is full of nostalgia for me but really I spent my childhood eating large chunks of cheddar and slices of processed ham from the fridge!

It was only after trips to Italy and Croatia that I’ve grown to love and appreciate good ice cream that’s super-creamy and flavoursome. You can get good ice cream like Green and Blacks at the supermarket now, so I don’t have to travel that far to get a good head-freezing fix. I managed to find some Italian ice cream at Ocado and decided I wanted to make a dessert with it… rather than eat it on its own straight from the tub while I watched Beaches on DVD… again.

So here be an easy ice cream dessert for kids and big kids everywhere!

Ingredients
For the caramel sauce:
– 125g caster sugar
– 2 tablespoons water
– 25g butter
– 75ml double cream

For the sundae:
– Vanilla ice cream (I used Green and Blacks)
– Pistachio ice cream (I used Antontio Federici available from Ocado)
– Can of squirty cream
– A few pistachio kernels

Method
1. First make the caramel sauce. Put the sugar into a saucepan and add the water. Put on a medium heat and watch the sugar dissolve. Turn the heat up a little and wait 8-10 minutes or so until you have caramel. When the mix starts to turn brown cook it just a minute more before taking it off of the heat.

2. Be extra careful when you add the butter and the double cream to the caramel. It’s hot, hot, hot! It will foam up a little as you add the butter and cream. Give it a stir, let it settle and then leave to one side to cool. Transfer to a jug so it’s easy to pour. If it cools so much that it sets don’t worry – just put it in the microwave for 20 seconds or so for it to loosen again.

3. Now it’s time to assemble your sundae! Scoop alternate balls of vanilla and pistachio ice cream into a sundae glass. Add a flourish of squirty cream.  Now get your jug of sauce and carefully drizzle some sticky caramel over the cream. Then just top the sundae off with some crunchy pistachio nuts. Eat right away!

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Food Miles: Iceland

I knew we were likely to eat a fair amount of seafood in Iceland. Cod and Prawns often have “Icelandic” on the packet! But aside from that, I wasn’t sure what would be on the menu. I’d heard lots of stories about the putrefied shark – buried for 6 months and dug up ready for your “enjoyment”. So when the Rough Guide arrived in the post, I flicked straight to the FOOD section! I read that a popular snack is wind-dried fish. Hmmm. In some places they serve whale and seal meat. Really?! And the only common vegetable is a type of tasteless lichen. Time to pack some snacks.

We were pleasantly surprised. 8 hours in Iceland and we were tucking into a breakfast of scrambled eggs and a mound of tea-smoked salmon. I can’t see any rotten shark anywhere?!

Breakfast set the tone. Lunch that day was in Iceland’s only fish and chip restaurant in Reykjavík. We had battered Pollock and locally caught langoustines with herby potatoes and a choice of dip (including white truffle mayo, garlic & herb & Taramosalata). So good – Iceland should open more chippys! But with a total population of 318k, 1 will probably do.

We stayed at Hotel Ranga in Hella, which has a fantastic restaurant. We enjoyed lots of delicious, top-notch cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. Highlights included reindeer carpaccio with truffle oil, smoked puffin, lobster soup with local langoustine tails and local wild salmon served with white chocolate puree, Champagne foam and local strawberries! Skyr featured heavily on the dessert menu… it’s Icelandic yoghurt… which is technically cheese… though it tastes just like yoghurt!

Winding around the “Golden Circle” route we also found a friendly little restaurant called Café Lindin. Mr B. devoured a mean looking reindeer burger while the rest of us took comfort in a warming bowl of very good lobster bisque served with a savoury muffin. It was a lovely pit stop and on a clear day you can get a good panorama of some of Iceland’s biggest volcanoes.

So (thankfully!) there’s more to Icelandic cuisine than tasteless lichen! With the Northern Lights ticked off the bucket list, I’d love to revisit and sample more of the restaurants in Reykjavík. Until then, I’m going to make my way through the bottle of Duty Free Reyka vodka. I’m sure it won’t taste as good as it does in a hot tub though!

Blueberry Yogurt Pot
Serves 1

I tried to get Skyr all over London and failed. I was still determined to recreate a dessert I’d had at our hotel and so settled for set yogurt. Skyr tastes like yogurt but has a moose like texture. If you do manage to find it, substitute it for the yogurt I’ve used here. I’m tempted to make this again using moose instead of yogurt for a firmer texture.

Ingredients
– 150g blueberries
– 2 tbsp caster sugar
– 1 capful of vanilla extract
– 250g natural set yogurt
– Sprinkling of flaked almonds

Method
1. Heat a saucepan on a medium heat and add the blueberries, sugar and vanilla extract. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the sugar foams up and you and a thick sauce. Leave to cool.

2. Discard the whey from the top of the yogurt before putting a dollop into a tumbler. Level off.

3. Add the blueberry mix, level off and then add another load of the blueberry sauce. Do this again if necessary depending on how much yogurt and blueberry sauce you have left.

4. Top with flaked almonds (I only had ground to hand) and chill before serving.

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Quick Fig Pud

“What cheese do you use to hide a horse?”

“Mascarpone!”

Never gets old.

Anyway, here’s a really easy and speedy dessert of Honeyed Figs with Mascarpone. I love the seedy texture of figs and they just look so pretty. They’re also really good served with italian ham and buffalo mozzarella but that’s a whole other blog post!

Honeyed Figs with Mascarpone
Serves 1

Ingredients
– 2 Figs
– 2 teaspoons light brown muscovado sugar
– 1 teaspoon of good quality honey
– 2 heaped tablespoons of mascarpone cheese

Method
1. Cut your figs into quarters but only cut through 3/4 of the way into the fig from the top. Fan the fig open.

2. Sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over inside of each fig. Put on a baking tray and grill for a few minutes until the sugar has caramelised.

3. Load a tumbler with the mascarpone. When the figs are ready lay on top of the cheese. Then just drizzle your honey over the figs and serve. Simples!

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Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

This week I made lemon curd. It’s real easy to buy a jar of the stuff but it’s also easy to make it yourself. Use lemon curd to add some zing to your toast or in the recipes below. These little jars of sunshine also make great gifts… so go on, say it with lemon curd!

I became slightly addicted to lemons after a holiday to Sorrento, Italy, where lemons can be seen growing everywhere and some to the size of footballs! Naturally the lemons are used in the local specialities so I made my way through lots of ice cold lemon granita, plates of gooey, oozing grilled mozzarella and lemon leaves (my favourite), shots of alcoholic limoncello (my husband’s favourite!) and bowlfuls of lemon infused pasta and gnocchi. Every time I get a punchy hit of lemon now it sends me back to the pretty, sun-drenched and lemony town of Sorrento.

Lemon Curd
Makes 500ml

Ingredients
– 5 medium unwaxed lemons (Waitrose ones are particularly good)
– 5 eggs (4 eggs plus 1 egg yolk)
– 250g caser sugar
– 125g unsalted butter

If you plan to store your lemon curd for later use, sterilize your jam jars by putting them onto an oven tray lined with baking paper and into a 180° oven (Gas Mark 4) for 20 minutes. Carefully remove with oven gloves and cool.

Method
1. Zest and juice the lemons being careful not to grate the bitter pith of the lemon (or your fingers for that matter!).


2. You need to cook the ingredients in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl shouldn’t touch the water so find a suitable saucepan and bowl (big enough to fit all of the ingredients into). Weigh out the sugar and the butter and put into the bowl. Put the saucepan filled with some water on a medium heat.

3. Add the lemon zest and juice to the sugar and the butter. When the water starts simmering in the saucepan, put your bowl over the top and slowly mix everything with a wooden spoon or a whisk until the butter melts.

4. While the butter is melting, crack the eggs and the extra yolk into a jug. Whisk lightly. When the butter has melted, slowly add the eggs to the other ingredients, stirring slowly whilst you add them.

5. Now just keep the bowl over the pan, stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes. Take off of the heat and allow it to cool. As it does so, it will thicken so don’t worry too much if it seems quite liquid still after 10 minutes. When it’s fully cooled, decant into your jam jars. I then decorated my jam jar lids by taking a pair of scissors to a Selfridges bag!

The curd will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Let me know if it lasts that long!

Ways with curd

Lemon Cupcakes

Make up a batch of lemon cupcakes. Use an apple corer to hollow out some sponge and fill the gap with your lemon curd. A little ooze of lemon curd in a cupcake – Mmmmm. I used a Hummingbird Bakery lemon cupcake recipe.

Michelle’s Lemony Dessert

My friend Michelle taught me this lovely little lemony dessert. So easy but very yummy. Fold together equal amounts of lemon curd and natural yoghurt (I used Total 0% brand). Lightly mix the curd with the yoghurt so that you have ribbons of curd running through the yoghurt. Spoon into tumblers and top with raspberries (I found some yellow raspberries in my local supermarket). Chill for a couple of hours before serving. You’ll need around 150g of curd and 150g yoghurt per person.

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